As is unfortunately often the case, the mass shooting that took place on April 18 in Nova Scotia began with an incident of domestic violence.
Authorities say that before the shooting that killed 22 people in the rural coastal community of Portapique, 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman argued before leaving a party. At home, Wortman assaulted his girlfriend and tied her up before returning to the party and killing several in attendance. Police didn’t find Wortman’s girlfriend until 7 a.m. the following morning, after Wortman—armed with a rifle, a handgun, and a shotgun—had left those at the party for dead and began targeting random victims. His girlfriend warned authorities that Wortman was driving an SUV modified to resemble a police cruiser and was probably dressed as an officer. The shootings went on for nearly 12 hours before a police standoff in which Wortman was killed after shooting Royal Canadian Mounted Police Constable Heidi Stevenson in the chest, before dragging her out of her police car and shooting her a second time.
Wortman’s violence at home escalating to violence against strangers is part of a horrific pattern that is all-too-common in mass shooting. According to a report by Everytown, in 54 percent of mass shootings, the perpetrator had a history of domestic violence. And in Canada, intimate partner violence accounts for one-third of all violent crimes reported to police.
A vigil for the victims, including Stevenson, along with a family of three, and an elementary school teacher, among others, will be held on Friday, though mourners must participate remotely due to covid-19 lockdowns.