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Death toll from Canada’s mass shooting rises, Trudeau pledges action on guns

Leather said police teams were spread out at 16 locations across central and northern Nova Scotia. He said some victims knew Wortman, who worked as a denturist, and some didn’t.

“We believe there may be victims still within the remains of those homes which burnt to the ground,” Leather said.

A tribute is displayed at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police headquarters in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.

A tribute is displayed at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police headquarters in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia.Credit:AP

The dead included Constable Heidi Stevenson. Another police officer was wounded by gunfire and was recovering at home, Leather said.

“The 18 innocent lives lost will be remembered throughout Canada’s history,” Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commissioner Brenda Lucki told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp on Sunday there was no indication at that time that the killings were terrorism-related.

Lucki told reporters on Monday the investigation was going to be very long and complicated, adding the suspect was not well-known to police. Police would not confirm a report by the CTV network that RCMP had shot him, beyond saying they had ended the threat posed by Wortman.

Leather said the suspect’s ability to move around the province was “greatly benefited” by the fact that he had a vehicle that looked identical in every way to a marked police car and that he was wearing a police uniform that was either a very good fabrication or an actual uniform.

Trudeau noted how close-knit the small province of Nova Scotia was.

“The vast majority of Nova Scotians will have a direct link with one or more of the victims. The entire province and country is grieving right now as we come to grips with something that is unimaginable,” Trudeau said.

“The pandemic will prevent us from mourning together in person, but a vigil will be held virtually to celebrate the lives of the victims,” Trudeau added, saying it would take place on Friday night through a Facebook group.

Trudeau asked the media to avoid mentioning the name of the assailant or showing his picture.

“Do not give this person the gift of infamy,” he said.

On his pledge to act on gun control, Trudeau said the country was “on the verge of introducing legislation to ban assault-style weapons”.

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“It was interrupted when the pandemic caused Parliament to be suspended, but we have every intention of moving forward on that measure, and potentially other measures, when Parliament returns.”

The 12-hour rampage began late Saturday night in the rural town of Portapique, about 100km north of Halifax, where police warned residents to lock their doors and stay in their basements as the attack unfolded.

The town, like all of Canada, had been adhering to government advice to remain at home because of the coronavirus pandemic and most of the victims were inside when the attack began.

Several bodies were later found inside and outside one house on the street where the suspect lived, authorities said.

Bodies were also found at other locations within about a 50km area from the neighbourhood where the shootings began, and authorities believe the shooter may have targeted his first victims but then began attacking randomly. They believe he acted alone.

Trudeau said the killings “happened in small towns: Portapique, Truro, Milford and Enfield, places where people have deep roots, places where people know their neighbours and look out for one another.”

“Now these communities are in mourning and Canada is in mourning with them,” Trudeau said.

Reuters, Washington Post, AP

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