N.S. RCMP use warrants to find killer’s cellphone, computer and other devices

N.S. RCMP use warrants to find killer’s cellphone, computer and other devices

HALIFAX — As police continue their investigation into a mass killing that claimed 22 lives last month in rural Nova Scotia, newly released documents reveal the RCMP recently seized and searched the killer’s computer, cellphone, tablet and navigation devices.

The search warrants, unsealed by a judge on Monday, do not provide details about what police found because their investigation has yet to be completed. As a result, the documents are heavily redacted.

The warrants say police were looking for firearms, ammunition, explosives, chemicals, surveillance systems, computers, electronic devices, police-related clothing, human remains and “documents related to planning mass murder events” and the acquisition of weapons.

Each of the warrants is accompanied by a grim recounting of the events that started on the night of April 18, when 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman allegedly assaulted his common-law spouse at one of his seasonal homes in the village of Portapique, N.S.

Armed with several semi-automatic weapons, he set fire to properties and killed 13 people in Portapiqe before he left the area, disguised as a Mountie and driving a vehicle that looked exactly like an RCMP cruiser.

He killed another nine people the following day in several other communities in northern and central Nova Scotia before an RCMP officer fatally shot him at a gas station in Enfield, N.S., about 90 kilometres south of Portapique.

The suspect remained at large for 13 hours.

“Gabriel Wortman showed a complete disregard for human life as he shot at people sitting in their cars, people walking along the side of the road, and at people in their private homes,” says a document prepared by RCMP Sgt. Angela Hawryluk.

Investigators have said little when asked what may have motivated the killer.

The RCMP documents say police seized a Samsung cellphone, Toshiba laptop, Acer tablet, a data-storage card and a Garmin global positioning device from the gunman’s denture clinic in Dartmouth, N.S., on April 20, the day after he was killed by police.

As well, the warrants and other documents say police have obtained data from the infotainment systems inside two vehicles seized from the same property: a 2013 Ford Taurus Police Interceptor and a 2015 C-300 Mercedes-Benz.

Police say these systems can store synchronized cellphone data regarding navigation, texting, phone calls and internet-enabled content including traffic conditions and weather.

Meanwhile, the RCMP have filed a so-called production order with telecommunications provider Telus Communications Inc., based in Scarborough, Ont. The order says the Mounties are seeking documents and data from Telus Mobility, but the specific requests have been redacted.

Investigators obtained warrants to search at least four other properties owned by the killer, two of them in Portapique.

Police confirmed that nothing was seized from 287 Portapique Beach Road, which was destroyed by fire.

At another burned property, 136 Orchard Beach Drive, police found something they described as “rounds,” but the description on either side of that word has been blacked out.

At 200 Portapique Beach Road, Wortman’s main seasonal residence, police found an ammunition box with a burnt $100 bill, a black plastic bag, a burnt receipt box and burnt pieces of a rifle.

Police were also granted permission to search a second denture clinic at 3542 Novalea Drive in Halifax, where they hoped to find another computer. But the search turned up nothing.

The documents released Monday were unsealed after a media consortium, including The Canadian Press, went to court.

Last week, the court released other documents that revealed statements from witnesses who described Wortman as an abusive “sociopath” who had suffered a mental breakdown and was stockpiling guns while displaying paranoid behaviour because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

One witness said Wortman “had been disturbed and that he was severely abused as a young boy,” adding he was “very smart, cheated and was a psychopath.” Another witness said Wortman had described ways to get rid of bodies using chemicals.

The document confirmed Wortman had purchased used police cars at auctions and had obtained decals to make one vehicle, another Ford Taurus, look exactly like an RCMP cruiser.

In the reasons given for seeking search warrants, Hawryluk describes how the first two officers to arrive in Portapique on the night of April 18 encountered a wounded witness who told them he’d been fired upon by a man in uniform driving what they thought was an RCMP vehicle.

The witness told police his ”first suspicion was that (the gunman) was … Gabe (Wortman) because his barn was on fire and he had a look-a-like Taurus that he was calling a police car.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 25, 2020.

Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press

Mass shootings

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta has 3,651 active cases of COVID-19. (File photo)
432 new COVID cases sets another record Friday

Central zone holds steady at 126 active cases

"We are looking seriously at the spread and determining what our next steps should be," says Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, as the daily number of COVID-19 cases continues to climb.
427 new COVID cases is highest in Alberta ever

Central zone has 126 active cases of COVID-19

100 Women Who Care make a donation to Sylvan Lake Food Bank and Bethany Care Centre. Photo By Megan Roth/Sylvan Lake News
100 Women Who Care donate to four Sylvan Lake groups

The Food Bank, Bethany Sylvan Lake, Community Partners and the Library all received a donation

RCMP. (Black Press File Photo)
Calgary man dies in two-vehicle collision near Sylvan Lake

A semi truck collided with a SUV just east of Hwy. 781 on Hwy 11.

Shaelynn Decock and her dog Taco, who has been missing since Aug. 26. Photo Submitted
Sylvan Lake woman looking for closure for her stolen dog

Shaelynn Decock says it has been two months since she last saw her dog Taco

B.C. Liberal leader Andrew Wilkinson, B.C. NDP leader John Horgan and B.C. Greens leader Sonia Furstenau. (Black Press Media)
VIDEO: One day until B.C. voters go to the polls in snap election defined by pandemic

NDP Leader John Horgan’s decision to call an election comes more than a year ahead of schedule and during a pandemic

Ryen Williams, 11, with a lost miniature horse at JJ Collett Oct. 23. Photo by Don Williams
UPDATE: Owners found

Father and son found him while out for a walk at JJ Collett

A Le Chateau retail store is shown in Montreal on Wednesday July 13, 2016. Le Chateau Inc. says it is seeking court protection from creditors under the Companies’ Creditors Arrangement Act to allow it to liquidate its assets and wind down its operations.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Clothing retailer Le Chateau plans to close its doors, files for CCAA protection

Le Chateau said it intends to remain fully operational as it liquidates its 123 stores

U.S. border officers at the Peace Arch crossing arrested two men on California warrants this week. (File photo)
Ottawa predicts system delays, backlogs unless court extends life of refugee pact

Canada and the United States recognize each other as safe places to seek protection

Conservative member of Parliament Michelle Rempel Garner, left to right, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole and Conservative Deputy Leader Candice Bergen arrive to hold a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
No-confidence showdown over sweeping Tory motion on government handling of pandemic

The Conservative motion is to be put to a vote Monday and has the support of both the Bloc Québécois and NDP

From l-r., first lady Melania Trump, President Donald Trump, moderator Kristen Welker of NBC News, Democratic presidential candidate former Vice President Joe Biden and his wife Jill Biden on stage at the conclusion of the second and final presidential debate Thursday, Oct. 22, 2020, at Belmont University in Nashville, Tenn. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)
Trump, Biden fight over the raging virus, climate and race

Republican president declared the virus, which killed more than 1,000 Americans on Thursday alone, will “go away.”

JJ Collett Natural Area Foundation held its AGM on Oct. 19 at the Ponoka Legion. (Emily Jaycox/Ponoka News)
De-listing Alberta parks creates ‘risk’ for coal mining: CPAWS

Canadian Parks and Wilderness Society speaks at JJ Collett AGM

COVID-19. (Image courtesy CDC)
Temporary COVID-19 testing sites coming to Wetaskiwin and Ponoka

The Wetaskiwin location will open Oct. 23, 2020 and the Ponoka location will open Oct. 29.

ACC President and CEO Ken Kobly spoke to Ponoka Chamber of Commerce members over Zoom on Oct. 20. (Image: screenshot)
Alberta chambers are ‘411’ to members, government: ACC president

Changes to government supports, second wave and snap election

Most Read