The number of fatalities in the deadliest shooting ever to take place in Canada has risen from 19 to 23, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).
The youngest killed was a 17-year-old, the RCMP acknowledged in the press briefing.
Kristen Beaton, a nurse, was also among the dead. Her husband, Nick, told CTV news that he had warned his wife that an active shooter was on the loose shortly before she was killed. Kristen died while pregnant with the couple’s second child.
It remains unknown how the gunman, Gabriel Wortman, who reportedly embarked on a 12 to 13 hour shooting rampage across 16 communities, obtained such a seemingly authentic police uniform and vehicle, both of which allowed him to carry out his shooting spree undetected.
While the motivation behind his “senseless” attack remains unclear, Wortman, who worked as a denturist, reportedly had a fascination with law enforcement, owning several replica uniforms and a homemade law enforcement vehicle.
It’s been reported that some of the victims apparently had ties to the shooter, though it appears others did not.
Other victims of the gunman sustained injuries, but the police did not speculate on whether or not the death toll was likely to increase. However, the police previously acknowledged that the distance covered by the gunman as well as the number of properties and vehicles set alight has made it difficult to pinpoint an exact figure.
The population of Scotia Nova was 971,395 in 2019.
Backlash from the community
The RCMP is facing a backlash for its failure to adequately alert the community.
Rather than warning the public through the province’s emergency alert system, it sent news of the active shooting out over Twitter. At the time of the shooting, the RCMP’s account had just under 91,000 followers.
In response to the criticism, Chris Leather – the RCMP Chief Superintendent for Nova Scotia – told reporters that the police force thought it was a “superior way to communicate,” but added that he would investigate further into the matter.
Nova Scotia premier Stephen McNeil said that no message had been received from the police notifying the province of the need to issue an emergency alert.
The military is now assisting in the RCMP’s investigation.
Prime minister responds
In response to the shooting, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has stressed the importance of gun control, saying the “tragedy in Nova Scotia simply reinforces and underlines how important it is for us to continue to move forward on strengthening gun control in this country.”
However, in likely acknowledgement of the difficulty of getting gun control legislation completed in a time when a global pandemic has moved other issues to the back burner, Trudeau added that these steps would be taken at “the appropriate time.”