Authorities said the attacker, wearing a police uniform, could have targeted his very first victims before assaulting randomly in the state of Nova Scotia.
Several bodies were located inside and out one house in the little town of Portapique, 60 kilometers north town of Halifax. Overnight, police advised citizens to lock their doors and remain in their kitchens. Several homes were set on fire.
Bodies were found in other places, authorities said. They identified the defendant as Gabriel Wortman, 51.
Police first announced they had detained Wortman in a petrol station in Enfield, out Halifax, but afterward said he’d expired. It wasn’t clear, and they didn’t clarify further.
“This is among the most senseless acts of violence within our state’s history,” said Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil.
The dead officer has been known as Constable Heidi Stevenson, a mom of 2 and a 23-year veteran of the drive. Another officer was injured.
“Every day, law enforcement members place themselves in harm’s way to make sure our security and well-being. I thank them, and most of the first responders, because of their dedication, professionalism, and support, and for always being there for us.
“As a nation, in moments such as these, we come together to encourage one another. Collectively we’ll mourn with the families of these victims, and help them get through this challenging time.”
Mass shootings are rather rare in the nation. Canada overhauled its gun-control legislation following a 1989 mass firing where gunman Marc Lepine killed 14 women and himself in Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique school. Earlier this weekend’s rampage, which had become the nation’s worst.
It’s currently illegal to have an unregistered handgun or any sort of rapid-fire weapon in Canada. The nation also needs training, a private risk assessment, two references, spousal notification, and criminal record checks to buy a weapon.