The ordinarily quiet country of Canada was rocked by its worst mass shooting in history this weekend.
A gunman set homes on fire and took the lives of at least 18 victims, including a police officer, on a horrifying rampage through Nova Scotia, according to media reports. Canadian police say they believe more victims will be found as homes that were “burnt to the ground” are searched.
Canada mass shooting kills 19+
Police were alerted to a “firearms complaint” around 11:30 p.m. local time in the rural town of Portapique, where they found multiple victims at a residence. They warned residents — who were already sheltering in place from the coronavirus — to lock their doors and take refuge, according to the BBC. From there it turned into an overnight manhunt for a depraved suspect who chose victims seemingly at random, over the course of a murder spree that lasted 12 hours and left at least 16 crime scenes, the New York Post said.
The perpetrator set homes on fire throughout the Nova Scotia region and, for part of his attack, killed residents while dressed as an officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Authorities also say that he outfitted a car to look like a police cruiser and went around making stops and knocking on the doors of unsuspecting victims, according to the Toronto Sun.
Among his victims is Heidi Stevenson, a mom of two and an RCMP officer of 23 years who tried to stop him. The officer had tried to intercept the killer at one point by ramming her car into the suspect’s vehicle. She was shot and then viciously killed execution-style by the suspect, who took her weapon, the New York Post reported.
“Heidi answered the call of duty and lost her life while protecting those she served,” Nova Scotia RCMP Commanding Officer, Assistant Commissioner Lee Bergerman said in a Facebook post, according to the BBC. “Two children have lost their mother and a husband his wife. Parents lost their daughter and countless others lost an incredible friend and colleague.”
By Sunday morning, the suspect had changed his vehicle and was heading south in a Chevrolet Tracker on Highway 102, the BBC said. Police pinned him down at a gas station in Enfield, where he reportedly died in a shootout.
Canada reels from tragedy
The suspect has been described as a successful, millionaire denturist — a person who makes dentures — who had an alcohol problem and a life-long obsession with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, according to the New York Post. The motive is unclear, but his spree reportedly began with the killing of his former significant other and her new partner. A source said that he appeared to have planned the attack methodically, despite the random appearance of many of the killings.
“He’s been planning this for a while,” a source told the New York Post.
As Canada reels from this senseless attack, authorities have said that there could be more casualties since they are still accounting for the carnage. The death toll was updated to 19 on Monday, and homes that the suspect burned to the ground still need to be searched.
He urged Canadians not to give the suspect the “infamy” he was seeking.