A suspect in an active shooter investigation was arrested Sunday at a gas station in Nova Scotia after a shooting rampage in the Canadian province left “multiple victims,” police said.
Police didn’t immediately say how many victims there were, or the nature of their injuries.
A man identified by police as 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman was arrested by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police at the Enfield, Nova Scotia, gas station, northwest of downtown Halifax.
By late morning, there were half a dozen police vehicles at the scene. Yellow police tape surrounded the gas pumps, and a large silver-colored SUV was being investigated by police.
Witnesses saw a body lying at the gas station. Police did not immediately comment on the identity.
The incident started in the small, rural town of Portapique, with police advising residents to lock their homes and stay in their basements.
Several building fires were reported by residents as well, but police didn’t immediately confirm details.
“I never imagined when I went to bed last night that I would wake up to the horrific news that an active shooter was on the loose in Nova Scotia,” said Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil.
“This is one of the most senseless acts of violence in our province’s history,” he said.
He said it was an additional “heavy burden” amid efforts to contain the new coronavirus, and that police will announce further details later.
Police stated earlier Sunday the suspect was driving a car that looked like a police vehicle and wearing a police uniform, but later said he was “believed to be driving a small, silver Chevrolet SUV,” travelling southbound on a highway. They said he is not an RCMP employee or officer.
Cpl. Lisa Croteau, a spokeswoman with the provincial force, said police received a call about “a person with firearms” at around 10:30 p.m. Saturday and the investigation “evolved into an active shooting investigation.”
“My heart goes out to everyone affected in what is a terrible situation,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said.
Christine Mills, a resident of the town, said it had been a frightening night for the small town, with armed officers patrolling the streets. In the morning, helicopters flew overhead searching for the suspect.
“I feel better now to know he’s in custody,” Mills said. “It’s nerve-wracking because you don’t know if somebody has lost their mind and is going to beat in your front door.”
Tom Taggart, a lawmaker who represents the Portapique area in the Municipality of Colchester, said the quiet community has been shaken.
“This is just an absolutely wonderful, peaceful quiet community and the idea that this could happen in our community is unbelievable,” Taggart said by phone from his home in Bass River, near the lockdown area.
RCMP Cpl. Lisa Croteau confirmed a tweet saying there are “multiple victims” but could not provide a number or say whether any people had been killed.
The RCMP posted an update on Twitter just after 10:15 a.m., warning that the male suspect was in the Debert and Central Oslow area and may be dressed as a police officer in a vehicle resembling a police car.
A Gabriel Wortman is listed as a denturist in Dartmouth, according to the Denturist Society of Nova Scotia website. A suspect photo issued by the RCMP matches video footage of a man being interviewed about dentures by CTV Atlantic in 2014.
Mills also said that Wortman was known locally as a denturist who divided his time between a residence in Halifax and a residence in Portapique.
Taggart said he didn’t know Wortman well, but spoke to him a few times when he telephoned about municipal issues.
Taggart described knowing Wortman’s “lovely big home” on Portapique Beach Road. He said Wortman owned a few other properties and was believed to divide his time between Portapique and his business in Dartmouth.