After a frantic morning following the shooter as he left destruction in his path, killing 22 people in four Nova Scotia communities, two RCMP officers describe how they maneuvered to get ahead of the suspect and found themselves by coincidence by his side at a quiet gas station.
In documents recently released by the Mass Casualty Commission, Emergency Response Team (ERT) member Const. Ben MacLeod and RCMP dog handler const. Craig Hubley provides details of how they both shot Gabriel Wortman multiple times without hesitation, ending his life.
The couple had stopped to refuel at the Irving Big Stop in Enfield, when Hubley noticed a man sitting in a gray Mazda 3. Hubley describes having a “profile view of him as he stared straight ahead.”
He noticed a small trickle of blood running down the man’s forehead, which seemed strange to him.
“The look on his face was that of someone who had just fought. He was breathing heavily, his mouth open and he was pissed off,” Hubley said in a statement provided to the Incident Response Team. serious in September 2020.
He said the man’s unusual behavior prompted him to take a closer look. Hubley recognized the face in photos he had seen on the wall earlier in the day at the RCMP command post in Great Village and realized it was the same man who had just killed his colleague const. Heidi Stevenson.
Hubley yelled “Benny it’s him” and pointed his gun directly at the suspect. Both officers describe how the man also reached for a gun.
“That’s when I saw a silver and black gun coming with his right hand, and then I made the decision to shoot,” MacLeod said. “I immediately focused on the pistol. I knew it looked like an RCMP general duty pistol. I knew Heidi’s had been stolen.”
Hubley said he was within five yards of the suspect and had a clear shot through the passenger side window.
“There was no time to take cover because Wortman was already killing me,” he said.
Both officers fired several shots at the suspect. Hubley had a pistol and MacLeod had an ERT carbine rifle.
“Even while I’m shooting, he… he raises the gun. He ends up putting it to his temple. I didn’t know at the time if he had fired or not. I keep shooting until ‘He is no longer a threat,’ MacLeod said.
MacLeod said Hubley then used his vehicle’s radio to communicate “where we were and what we had”. Both men believed Wortman was barely alive, but said they went through their training by not approaching him.
Within minutes, the ERT team arrived and extracted Wortman from the vehicle, which he had stolen from his last victim, Gina Goulet. He was taken into custody and then officers determined he was dead.
Reflection on withdrawal
During an interview with the commission last September, MacLeod said he did not recall pressing the emergency button on his radio, which opens the communication to broadcast what was happening, until let him know about it months later. He said he probably hit him unconscious after Hubley alerted him that the suspect was there.
The entire meeting was recorded accordingly. When the commission asked MacLeod how long the encounter lasted, he said there could be “time distortions in a stressful incident.”
“If you had asked me this last year or in the days since, you would have said it all happened within five seconds of me stepping out, moving around and I shot. Listening to that audio, it sounds like it was maybe closer to 20 seconds,” he said.
Hubley said he feared for his own life and that of MacLeod that day, knowing that the shooter had already murdered numerous civilians and a police officer.
“I believed he had no intention of surrendering. He used violence to defeat a police officer and was clearly continuing his slaughter despite encountering an authority figure. I believed he was trying to kill as many people as possible,” he said.