by Paul Palango
When Frank Magazine reported earlier this month that some observers had speculated that mass shooter Gabriel Wortman had been “executed” by Mounties at the Irving Big Stop in Enfield on April 19, 2020, howls of outrage could be heard from both inside the force and from its public and private enablers in the outside world.
Videotapes obtained by Frank from a source we dubbed True Blue showed an unmarked RCMP Chevrolet Suburban pull up to a pump next to Wortman. Two officers jumped out and immediately began firing between 15 and 20 shots into a Mazda 3 killing Wortman, a couple of times over, as it were.
One of the videos shot from an overhead camera showed Wortman lunging across the passenger seat. There might have been something white in his hand. It’s difficult to make out. The long guns he had were under a blanket in the back seat. Constable Heidi Stevenson’s service weapon was later found in the driver’s side foot well. How it got there, we don’t know. We have to trust the RCMP to tell us that, which is problematic.
The RCMP would like us to believe that it and its members are paragons of virtue, honour and truth, but all that has become a matter of debate considering the force’s actions and stunning inaction before, during and after the Nova Scotia massacres.
A new source has emerged from within the confines of law enforcement to shed even more light on the curious and disturbing RCMP behaviour.
We are calling this source Big Stop.
After Wortman was shot, his body was dragged out of the car and positioned face down on the pavement, his chin holding up his head. His hands were bound behind his back. Everyone looking at the grainy photo assumed that Wortman had been handcuffed, even though he was very dead. That’s a normal police procedure.
“He wasn’t handcuffed,” Big Stop said. “They used a shoelace.”
“Why a shoelace?” I asked a number of former detectives.
“Each handcuff has a serial number on it that is linked to a specific officer,” said one. “My serial number was _ _ _ _ _ _. I always remembered that.”
“Whoever was there obviously didn’t want to be identified,” said another former detective source. “I would think that during the autopsy the pathologist would have taken note of the serial number. It certainly raises questions, doesn’t it?”
The requisite question was put to the newest N.S. RCMP communications drone, Cpl Chris Marshall:
"As he lay dead on the ground at the Irving Big Stop, what was used to secure Gabriel Wortman's wrists behind his back?"
By now, everyone will be familiar with the answer that came back, via email:
"The RCMP is fully cooperating with the Mass Casualty Commission and will respectfully refrain from further commenting on specific details".
From the first moments of Wortman’s killing spree beginning on the evening of April 18th at Portapique Beach, the RCMP’s response was entirely unusual.
“There are procedures in place for everything,” one former detective told me. “From what I can see the RCMP failed to follow their own procedures from the very beginning. Why? What made them do that?”
The failure to follow protocols and procedures was evident in the last few minutes of Wortman’s life.
The gas station video tapes showed Wortman in a near confrontation with a Mountie at the Petro Canada station, just off Exit 8 on Highway 102. Wortman was driving a Mazda 3 with two red tennis balls impaled on the rear antenna. The car belonged to his last murder victim, Gina Goulet, and the RCMP had no idea he was in that vehicle.
The video appears to accurately describe, in part, the official RCMP narrative of what happened, except the RCMP said it all happened at the Irving Big Stop at Exit 7, not at the Petro Canada station.
The RCMP said that dog handler Craig Hubley accidentally came across Wortman at the Big Stop. Hubley noticed an abrasion on Wortman’s forehead and a “thousand-mile stare.” Hubley alerted an ERT officer who was travelling with him. They confronted Wortman and killed him. Hubley was declared a hero.
That version of the story was confirmed by ex-judge Felix Cacchione in a December report by the Serious Incident Response Team. Cacchione is the director of SIRT, which supposedly acts in an independent police oversight capacity.
The tapes clearly show that the RCMP officer who was eyeballing Wortman at the Petro Canada station was not the same officer who shot and killed Wortman at the Irving Big Stop.
The two events appear to have been conflated into one, which Cacchione denied in a bizarre interview with the CBC’s Elizabeth McMillan. In that interview Cacchione essentially borrowed the famous Chico Marx line from the 1933 movie Duck Soup: “Who you gonna believe me or your own eyes?”
Cacchione said he found no evidence that RCMP officers followed the gunman from the Petro-Canada to the Big Stop about 7.5 kilometres away.
"There was no indication in any of the radio transmissions that indicated he had been recognized and a broadcast made that he was driving a grey Mazda 3 vehicle. There was nothing like that. The officers didn't know — the officers at the Petro-Can — that it was him," said Cacchione.
In its summary of the investigation into the shooting, SIRT determined the two police officers, who had seen the bodies of people killed in Portapique the previous night, were lawfully justified in shooting their suspect.
The report said it was "a mere coincidence" that they stopped to refuel and recognized the gunman sitting in a vehicle at the adjacent pump. After one officer called out to his colleague, they saw Wortman raise Const. Heidi Stevenson's gun, prompting them both to start firing, the report found.
One of the videos Frank Magazine posted shows that three seconds after opening his door, an officer had his gun drawn. It's not clear at what point he started firing.
Cacchione disputed the suggestion that the officer, a dog handler, got out of the vehicle intending to shoot. He said it only took seconds for the officer to spot a bruise on the gunman's forehead and realize it was the man wanted for murdering several people.
"Getting out of the vehicle, [the officer] would have been looking directly at the affected party and that's when he recognized him. There was no indication that he recognized him while he was in the police vehicle," said Cacchione.
As part of the investigation, Cacchione, a former Nova Scotia Supreme Court Justice, said he reviewed videos from the Irving that were longer than the clips Frank Magazine posted and taken from additional angles.
The images were also clearer, he said, adding that one showed both the suspect's car and the RCMP vehicle driving in, and the frame was wider on the image of the police vehicle.
"The quality [of video] we viewed was excellent, it was not grainy. It was typical of surveillance footage, but it was not blurry," he said. "What I see on screen from Frank Magazine is very condensed compared to what I saw."
The obvious discrepancy between the video and Cacchione’s defiance about his “findings,” such as they were, are an indelible stain on the integrity of the justice system. Cacchione told McMillan he had viewed all the evidence. He even went as far as to say that he had better video than what Frank released but couldn’t show it to her. That would be up to the Mass Casualty Commission to release. It was all in their hands.
Cacchione was all but saying: “I have a clearer video of the coverup, but I can’t make that public.”
Felix, I have some advice for you since you’ve allowed yourself to become trapped in a box canyon: Tell the truth or resign. Or both.
Getting at what really happened between the RCMP and Wortman has been made exceedingly difficult because of all the secrecy that is being enforced at every turn. For example, Frank has been told, Petro Canada employees were forced to sign a non-disclosure agreement involving what happened that day. Irving is believed to have done much the same to its employees, according to earlier interviews.
All of which brings us back to the shoelace.
The incurious Cacchione didn’t see the importance of what happened at the Petro Canada station worthy of inclusion in his report. Even though the videos clearly put the lie to his report, Cacchione has dug in his heels and defended it as if he’s got a gun to his head. Is it any surprise, therefore, that he didn’t bother to mention the shoelace?
That the RCMP members on the scene decided to use an untraceable shoelace rather than numbered handcuffs is the opposite of what one might expect in such a circumstance. Like the official story put it, they were all heroes. They confronted a murderous madman, bravely confronted him, and killed him. Nova Scotia and Canada would hold a parade for them. But that’s not how the RCMP reacted.
The force was obviously in coverup mode. The RCMP and Cacchione say that canine officer Craig Hubley was the hero at the Big Stop, but was he? There is no proof that he was the person who got out of the Suburban and opened up on Wortman sitting behind the wheel in Goulet’s car.
Cacchione said that the Mounties at the Petro Canada station did not identify Wortman. If that’s true, then how did the Mounties know it was Wortman in the vehicle at the Big Stop?
Those Mounties appear to have made no attempt to arrest the man in the Mazda, whom Cacchione said they didn’t know. They dispatched of Wortman immediately. How did they know it was him?
“The Mounties did not follow their own procedures,” one ex-detective stated.
Afterward, It took the RCMP 3.5 hours after the shooting to confirm to the CBC that Wortman had actually been killed by the Mounties and was not “in custody.”
What were the Mounties doing all this time – constructing an appropriate narrative?
The shoelace used to bind Wortman has the RCMP tied up in another knot.
Some additional notes as Paul queries: The after the fact gunshots were plentiful. Was there a gun battle going on that had nothing to do with Wortman?
Photo below: Gabriel Wortman as a young man.