Two years after 22 gunmen were killed in Nova Scotia, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police is still under the microscope

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Two years after her father was murdered by a man disguised as Monty, Charlene Bagley is still convinced he would be alive today if… Nova Scotia RCMP He issued a county-wide alert early on in the killer’s rampage.

“Usually he would check the news on Facebook,” Bagley said in a recent interview, recalling the morning of April 19, 2020 when her father, Tom, was murdered. “That was his morning routine. But at that point, they didn’t show the offender’s face or anything.”

The RCMP’s contact with the public within 13 hours of the gunman at large has become a focal point for the commission of inquiry investigating the incident. Worst mass shooting In recent Canadian history, which killed 22 people on April 18-19, 2020.

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After nearly eight weeks of public hearingsmajor questions remain about how and when the Mounties shared the information, including on the first night when the killer killed 13 people in the countryside of Portapique, NS, about 50 kilometers south of Bagley’s home.

The investigation heard that on April 18, 2020, at 11:32 pm, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police used Twitter to inform Portapique residents to close their doors because the police were investigating a “firearms complaint”.

This innocuous statement offered little hint of the unfolding tragedy. By then, Mountis was at the scene aware that an active shooter had already killed at least two people, wounded another and set fire to a number of homes.

Additionally, the suspect has yet to be found, officers have been reporting gunfire and explosions, and a series of 911 calls indicated that the killer was driving a vehicle that looked like a fully-branded RCMP cruiser.

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The investigation has heard that at least two Mounties, Const. Stuart Bisselt and Sgt. Al Carroll suggested that the public should be alerted to what was going on. But this did not happen until the next morning.

Besselt, the first officer to arrive in Portapique at 9:25 p.m., delivered the following message on his police radio at 11:16 p.m. as the search for the killer continued: “Is there some kind of emergency broadcast that we can do (to) make People go to their basement and don’t come out?”

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He was told that the residents of the area were called directly. Not broadcast.

As for Carroll, the district commander in Colchester County, he told co-investigators that sometime before midnight, he advised colleagues to “get something there through our media contacts…outside of Section H (headquarters)”.

“They are our media men,” he remembers saying. “Connect with them so they can get something… through their regular channels,” which included social media. But the RCMP did not send any further messages to the public that night.

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said Michael Arntfield, professor and criminologist at Western University in London, Ont. Decision making within an RCMP can be a slow process, particularly when it comes to dealing with the public.

He said, “Obviously there will be tactical decisions that are taken quickly…but everything needs to be raised and then lowered if it comes to any public communications.”

“So even for something urgent, dangerous and imminent… they can’t free themselves from bureaucratic machinations. It is like the paralysis of analysis.”

“no precedent”

There is evidence, though, that the RCMP had reason to be cautious about releasing more information to the public, said Christian Liebrecht, a professor at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont., who specializes in policing and security issues.

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Although the recipients of the 911 calls had received witness reports of a replica of the RCMP cruiser, investigators later found three decommissioned police cars belonging to the killer – two torched near his property in Portapique and one still intact in Dartmouth, N

At the time, police were unaware that the killer had escaped from Portapique on a fourth decommissioned cruiser that had been expertly modified to look identical to an RCMP cruiser.

“In the end, you need to validate (witness statements) because if you give false information, you will make the situation worse,” said Leobrecht, referring to the discovery of the three previous police cars.

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Arntfield, a former police officer, said it was also important to learn about the RCMP in rural Nova Scotia who were facing an unprecedented situation.

“You have a serious and liquid incident,” Arntfield said in an interview. “They had no precedent or training in terms of dealing with this kind of scenario.”

During the night, the police force shared basic information about the suspect with its officers through internal messages known as BOLOs, short for “Be On The Lookout.” But the audience remained in the dark.

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‘Everyone of us just wanted to find him’: RCMP officers who stopped the Nova Scotia massacre speak at public inquiry


‘Everyone of us just wanted to find him’: RCMP officers who stopped the Nova Scotia massacre speak at public inquiry

At 1:09 a.m., officers were warned of an “active shooting incident in progress.” The warning identified the suspect, saying he was armed, dangerous, and “linked” to an “old police car” that may have burned down in Portapique. Several similar messages were repeated in the early hours of the morning.

The situation changed at 7:22 AM when the killer’s husband came out of hiding and revealed details of the fourth vehicle and provided a photo of the vehicle. This important information was passed on to the police at 8:04 a.m. through BOLO who said the vehicle was loaded with weapons and “could be anywhere in the county.”

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By 7:45 AM, RCMP crew sergeant. Addie MacCallum was commissioned to prepare a press release with the assistance of the RCMP’s Media Relations Division. In a subsequent interview with investigative investigators, McCallum said he made it clear that the public should be told to “look for this vehicle.”

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At 8:02 a.m., nearly 10 hours after the shooter killed his first victim, Mounties issued a tweet declaring a “state of active shooting” in Portapique, the first time the public had received such a warning. But it did not mention the suspected escape vehicle or that the perpetrator might be anywhere in the governorate.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police followed up with another tweet at 8:54 am identifying 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman as the suspected gunman. A picture of him is attached to the tweet.

“My dad will be here today.”

Around that time Tom Bagley left for his morning walk on Hunter Road in West Wentworth.

Investigators believe the former firefighter was shot dead by the perpetrator when he approached the burning home of Garen Sean McLeod and Alana Jenkins. Police believe MacLeod and Jenkins were killed in their home sometime between 6:35 a.m. and 9 a.m.

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Charlene Bagley said her father would have stayed home had a county alert alerted him to an active shooter in the area.

“I guarantee you my father will be here today,” she said.

“Some men run around and kill people and set fires. I think I would like to know how much more is needed so that they realize that an alert was necessary.”

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RCMP Const. Heidi Stevenson asked supervisors at 8:44 a.m. if they had considered distributing a media release about a replica of the cruiser, according to documents released by the investigative committee.

Sgt. Bruce Briers, in his notes submitted to the investigation, asserted that Sgt. Al Carroll, the District Commander in Colchester, responded to the request in an email at 9:08 a.m., saying: “The vehicle was considered to be released, but the decision was made not to.”

“Very well. They thought they might not want to be released,” replied Briers, director of risk at the Operational Communications Center in Pebble Hill, New South Wales.

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Stevenson died later that morning when the killer smashed his car into her cruiser. Before she was shot dead, the officer was able to fire a bullet that hit the suspect in the right side of the head, injuring him, the investigation heard last week.

The RCMP did not send out until 10:17am a tweet showing a photo of the killer’s car, saying the perpetrator may have been wearing an RCMP uniform. This major warning came about 12 hours after the Montez were first told about the car, and more than two hours after they received the photo.

Additionally, Mounties has faced criticism for using Twitter to issue warnings, considering that the social media platform is not popular in rural environments.

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“Nova Scotia citizens have a right to know if and when they are in danger,” Attorney Jane Linehan told the inquiry last week.

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“The perpetrator poses a serious threat to their safety… Yet the vast majority of Nova Scotia residents were oblivious to the gravity of the threat…. Important information has been withheld.”

Lenihan represents the family of Gina Gullit, the last person killed by Wortman on April 19, 2020. She said that many Nova Scotia residents would have made different choices about their movements that morning if they had learned of the threat posed by the perpetrator.

That’s why the RCMP should have distributed district-level warnings through the Alert Ready system, which sends urgent messages directly to television screens, radios, and wireless devices, she said.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police confirmed that when two of the Monterey soldiers killed the killer at a North Halifax gas station at 11:25 a.m., the police force was in the middle of crafting a ready-made alert message that was never sent.

This report was first published by The Canadian Press on April 18, 2022.

– With files from Michael Totton

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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