RCMP wanted 2011 tip about Nova Scotia shooter ‘clear’: Truro police chief

According to documents released by the Public Inquiry examining the tragedy.

Two weeks after Gabriel Wortman killed 22 people, including a pregnant woman and an RCMP officer, CBC News has requested all Truro Police Service records related to the mass shooting through Liberty Legislation of information.

Chief Dave MacNeil told Mass Casualty Commission investigators that he advised the RCMP in advance that his legal advisers had determined they were required by law to release their records. In response, he said two of the most senior constables in the province, Chief Superintendent. Chris Leather and the Chief Superintendent. Janis Gray, organized a call.

“Tome [the message] was, this bulletin should not surface. We have to explain this bulletin,” MacNeil said during his interview with the public inquiry.

“I felt like, I’m not going to say pressured, but I felt…if the newsletter could go away, they’d be very happy. And I couldn’t because that’s not how I do business.”

MacNeil, whom the commission interviewed in August 2021, said he believed it was “not ethically and morally correct” to withhold public records requested by CBC and Global. He said he declined the RCMP’s request to review their records during that May 2020 appeal.

The police chief declined to speak to CBC News on Thursday, citing his involvement in the investigation. He expects to be called as a witness in June.

Truro Police Chief Dave MacNeil told CBC in May 2020 that officer safety bulletins are rarely released and one of his officers submitted one about the shooter in 2011 which was broadcast nationwide. Province. He said they didn’t investigate directly because the shooter lived in Dartmouth and Portapique, Nova Scotia. (Elizabeth McMillan/CBC)

The RCMP told CBC News it would be inappropriate to comment on specific documents or testimony while the investigation is ongoing.

In an emailed statement, Cpl. Chris Marshall did not specifically respond to the May call, but said Leather and Gray had contacted Truro earlier, on April 24, as they were looking for “more details, including the context of the information in the bulletin. and whether additional information was available.”

Agent Safety Bulletin

Records released to CBC in May 2020 included transcripts of dispatch communications on April 18 and 19, bulletins issued by the RCMP about the active shooter on April 19, and emails referring to an anonymous tip that Cpl. Greg Densmore received in 2011 about Gabriel Wortman.

Densmore had sent an “officer safety bulletinto other police departments at the time advising them that he had heard from an unnamed source that Wortman had multiple firearms and a source said he suffered from mental health issues.

Before Radio Canada publish an article on the tip of 2011, the RCMP had not mentioned it publicly – although records show that city police forces reported the bulletin within hours of the release of the shooter’s name on April 19 and that the RCMP began to investigate. examine in a few days.

A screenshot of a 2011 officer safety bulletin, aired on CBC in May 2020, which contained a tip about the man who, nine years later, killed 22 people in rural New Scotland. (Turo Police Service)

MacNeil said the release of the whistleblower had become a “contentious” issue and the RCMP wanted him and other city leaders to attend a joint press conference about it.

“It became very clear to all three chiefs that it was about ‘how to move the narrative and put it on somebody else’. And we weren’t playing ball,” he told the Commission.

MacNeil told the inquest, as he told CBC News at the time, that the tip was about someone who didn’t live within the jurisdiction of his force, so his agency’s involvement took end after its submission and that it would have been up to other agencies to investigate.

Lowest relationship with the RCMP

Although the RCMP did not ask the municipal force to respond on April 19, except for a belated request to “lock down” the city and investigate a possible sighting of the shooter at the grocery store on April 19 April, Truro’s police chief told the inquest he had a profound impact on his team and his community.

“The incident has caused a great deal of anguish and grief among our officers,” he said. “A lot of them thought it was a complete mess…. [They] didn’t get any information, but we didn’t have any information to give them.”

In his interview with the commission, he said his frontline officers still have a good relationship with their RCMP counterparts in Colchester County and share information as needed. But he said that at the top level, strained relations with the RCMP had hit “bottom low” in the wake of the tragedy.

He said that at the provincial level, the RCMP has treated its command team with “intimidation and spin doctoring and lack of transparency.”

The commission had originally planned to release its preliminary report on the involvement of municipal police departments this week on April 18-19, 2020. The release of this seminal document has not yet been postponed.

HRP made calls after 2011 tip

When asked in the spring of 2020 how officers responded to the 2011 tip, the RCMP first said it purged the records from its system and did not have access to the bulletin on the 18th and April 19. At a press conference on June 4, 2020, they said they were looking for contact an officer had with Wortman.

Documents released this spring by the public inquiry showed that after the bulletin aired in 2011, a Halifax police officer who had investigated an earlier complaint that the shooter had threatened his parents had followed Densmore.

Cordell Poirier, who has since retired from the Halifax police force, told the commission he contacted the RCMP constable. Greg Wiley at Bible Hill following the 2010 threat complaint. Wiley described himself as a friend of the shooter and told Poirier he would try to speak with Wortman directly about the complaint.

Poirier told the commission he found it “strange” to learn that more than a month later Wiley had not. Poirier closed the case in late August without ever hearing from Wiley.

Wiley told RCMP investigators in a June 2021 interview that he did not recall speaking to Poirier and described Wortman as a “very, very polite guy.”

After the 2011 bulletin was published, Poirier—describing Wortman in his notes as a “viable threat”—contacted Bible Hill RCMP Detachment again and informed the supervisor on duty, Const. John MacMinn about the incident the previous year. MacMinn, who hadn’t seen the bulletin, said he would follow up with Wiley and contact Poirier with an update.

“I never got that update,” Poirier told the commission. “I don’t know if he contacted anyone in our department and passed on the information, but I never got any information.”

Twenty-two people died on April 18 and 19, 2020. Top row from left: Gina Goulet, Dawn Gulenchyn, Jolene Oliver, Frank Gulenchyn, Sean McLeod, Alanna Jenkins. Second row: John Zahl, Lisa McCully, Joey Webber, Heidi Stevenson, Heather O’Brien and Jamie Blair. Third row from top: Kristen Beaton, Lillian Campbell, Joanne Thomas, Peter Bond, Tom Bagley and Greg Blair. Bottom row: Emily Tuck, Joy Bond, Corrie Ellison and Aaron Tuck. (Radio Canada)

Other FOIPOP requests refused

CBC filed the same request for records sent to Truro police at Amherst Police Department and Halifax Regional Police. Amherst released its records, but Halifax did not, citing the ongoing investigation.

Halifax police also denied a later request for information on how they responded to the 2011 tip. CBC appealed both cases and they have yet to be resolved.

CBC has also filed numerous access to information requests with the RCMP.

Some requests have been refused because the records requested relate to “the detection, prevention or suppression of crime”, one of the many reasons public bodies are authorized to make exceptions. None of the published records referenced the 2011 tip.