Statement by RCMP: Criminal Operations Officer, Commanding Officer

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**** RCMP Media Release

Statement by RCMP Criminal Operations Officer, Chief Superintendent Chris Leather

As we try and piece together the​ many details of the​ incidents that unfolded over the weekend,​ here​ is some of the information we know to date.

Throughout the evening Saturday and into the early morning hours Sunday, the RCMP established and maintained a significant presence in the Portapique area in response to an active threat. Our response centred on protecting people, which included providing up-to-minute information on Twitter.

RCMP members were in the community of Portapique at 10:26 p.m. responding to a possible shooting. When they responded, members determined this to be a homicide. As part of the investigation, officers began notifying residents in the immediate area and searching for suspect(s). The RCMP issued a public instruction on Twitter that we were aware of a firearms complaint in the Portapique area and advised them to stay inside.

Within a short period of time, police discovered additional victims and several structure fires in Portapique. A complete search of the area was underway throughout the evening and into the morning hours and the suspect was not located.

Based on the evidence available at the time, the RCMP established a perimeter in the Portapique area as part of their ongoing investigation.

Early Sunday morning, the RCMP began providing real-time information on its Nova Scotia RCMP Twitter account. While doing so, confirmation was obtained about who the suspect was and at 9:35 a.m. police received a call about a possible female victim on Hwy 4 in Wentworth. Throughout this time the RCMP were able to broadcast photos of the suspect, suspect vehicle, locations and sightings. Twitter allowed our information to be shared, followed and broadcast by local, provincial and national news outlets.

At 10:15 a.m. Nova Scotia Provincial Emergency Management officials contacted the RCMP to offer the use of the public emergency alerting system.

The RCMP was in the process of preparing an alert when the gunman was shot and killed by the RCMP.

This incident was dynamic and fluid. The RCMP have highly trained and capable Critical Incident Command staff who were on site in Portapique. Operational Communications Centre operators assisting the response and police presence was significant. The members who responded used their training and made tough decisions while encountering the unimaginable. Collectively, RCMP employees had one objective and that was to protect Nova Scotians and each other by stopping the threat. At 11:26 the gunman was killed by the RCMP.

We are working towards providing a full timeline, and more information will be provided as it becomes available.

Chief Superintendent Chris Leather, Criminal Operations Officer

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Remarks from the Commanding Officer, Assistant Commissioner Lee Bergerman

What happened this past weekend in our beautiful province can only be described as devastating. The sorrow in communities from coast to coast is palpable. I feel it, we feel it. We see it in the candles lit in windows and on porches.

The pain and heartache of all of the families and friends who have lost loved ones though is incomprehensible and only made more difficult by the COVID-19 pandemic among us. The opportunity to come together to provide comfort, is not there. I and all of us in “H” Division RCMP extend our sympathies to all affected.

We see the vigils across the province in honour of your loved ones and recognizing your great loss, including the loss of RCMP member, Cst. Heidi Stevenson, who was dedicated to protecting Nova Scotians, and whose family is interwoven in the local community.

The impact of the weekend’s incidents will remain and how it’s changed us all cannot be ignored. One of these impacts is an understandable unease, and for some fear. These incidents were unprecedented, not only in this province but in this country. There is no instruction book for how we should feel.

What I can assure you of, is that all of us in every part of our Division and in communities across the province are dedicated to your safety and security. We are here for you.

I am very proud of the dedication of all employees in this Division and of their commitment to all Nova Scotians. This was never more on display than in our response this past weekend. From when our telecommunicators received the 911 calls and we arrived in Portapique to the extensive search for the suspect to when we stopped the gunman. Our officers were there to protect Nova Scotians.

One of our jobs is to thoroughly investigate the tragic incidents. We are doing just that. We know you have many unanswered questions. We do too. We also know you expect us to do a good job, and we want to do a good job for you. We will need some time to do that. You can be assured our investigative teams are working around the clock and employees at every level are contributing to this investigation. We have tremendous resource support from other provinces and our federal counterparts to help us with the investigation. We are grateful for their support.

We feel your sorrow, but we also feel your support and your resilience. Thank you. Thank you for your condolences, your well wishes, and the many messages of support.

Nova Scotia Strong is indeed accurate. We are here for you.

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