Psychological assessment of NS shooter questioned by the RCMP

The authors of an RCMP-commissioned psychological assessment did not substantiate their findings about the shooter in the 2020 Nova Scotia mass shooting, according to two researchers appearing before the inquest into the tragedy on Friday.

In the months following the rampage of Gabriel Wortman in April 2020, an RCMP team – including internal profilers and an RCMP forensic psychologist – attempted to understand his state of mind at the time of the shooting and identify any behavioral patterns.

In June 2020, RCMP Superintendent. Darren Campbell revealed some of the initial findings of the “psychological autopsy”, calling the shooter an injustice collector – someone who hung on to perceived insults until he “got angry”.

The report also says the victims were either targeted for perceived past injustices or random targets.

The Mass Casualty Commission called on psychologists Kristy Martire, associate professor at the University of South Wales in Australia, and Tess Neal, associate professor at Arizona State University, to review the report.

They concluded that the authors of the RCMP report “provided no evidence at all that the method or process used in the report had been measured.”

Martire and Neal go on to write that the authors did not refer to any published research to support their report.

They also concluded that the RCMP had a “direct interest” in a particular outcome of the psychological assessment as critical violence incident responders and that they were in a potential conflict of interest.

For example, they point out that the authors of the report work for the RCMP and knew the details of the outcome of the events before undertaking the assessment.

“There appears to have been no attempt to reduce the potential effects of hindsight bias, such as blinding of certain details of the results or having the assessment carried out by someone who did not know the details of the results,” they wrote. they wrote.

Martire and Neal also found “frequent examples of opinions and beliefs presented as if they were facts”.

Their report noted that the purpose of the psychological autopsy is not explicitly stated, and the relevance of certain findings is unclear.

Although the RCMP report is titled “Psychological Autopsy,” it also examined the shooter’s behavior, Martire and Neal wrote.

“For this reason, it is unclear how the analysis and conclusions served the purposes of the evaluation.”

Martire and Neal will take questions from the committee later on Friday.