The RCMP searched computers, phones, a GPS and the in-car data of two vehicles in its probe of last month’s Nova Scotia mass shooting, as well as ordering a cell phone service company to turn over the gunman’s phone records.
The new information on the steps taken by the RCMP in the wake of the worst mass killing in Canada’s history are revealed in new police documents about the ongoing investigation, released Monday on a judge’s order.
The documents were prepared by the RCMP to get a judge’s approval to search various properties — including gunman Gabriel Wortman’s real estate — and to compel other people to produce material police believed relevant to their probe. Heavily redacted versions of the documents were ordered released as part of a larger court motion by media organizations.
The in-car data was sought for two vehicles which were recovered by police, a 2013 Ford Taurus and a 2015 Mercedes. The Ford was registered to a company that was registered by Wortman and the Mercedes was registered in Wortman’s own name. A witness said Wortman’s common-law spouse usually drove the Mercedes. Police were interested in retrieving the “stored data” from the cars.
Police also sought court permission to search electronic equipment that was being held by officers, including a Samsung cellphone, a laptop, a memory card, a tablet and a GPS.
Among the information withheld from the public in this version of released documents is who owned some of the devices, and what police believed they would find on them.
Although what was found on the devices is not revealed, the documents do show there were no insurmountable password or security access difficulties, as has happened in other mass murder investigations.
“Gabriel Wortman showed a complete disregard for human life as he shot at people sitting in their cars, people walking on the side of the road, and at people in their private homes,” one of the documents says, summarizing the vast crime being investigated.
“Witness statement were obtained and Gabriel Wortman was described as a man who collected firearms, decommissioned police cars, police uniforms and equipment, was paranoid and had security systems in place at his properties.”
The National Post is still examining the newly released material and will update this report throughout the day.
The RCMP investigation into the murder rampage across northern Nova Scotia, which spanned from the evening of April 18 to midday on April 19, is ongoing.
Twenty-two people were killed by the gunman and several others injured; some victims were known to the gunman while others were random people he encountered, police said.
Wortman, 51, who ran denture clinics in Nova Scotia, dressed in an authentic RCMP uniform and drove a replica of an RCMP cruiser when he set out from his home in Portapique, N.S., on his killing spree.
He was shot and killed by police when he stopped for gas in Enfield, N.S.
A single document, called an Information to Obtain (ITO), was released by the court last week. Crown prosecutors described it as the most comprehensive overview of the investigation up to the point it was written, April 24.
The other documents released Monday include additional ITOs for search warrants, police reports to the judges detailing the results of their searches, and production orders, which are court orders to compel others to assist police, by turning over evidence police believe is relevant to the investigation.
There are at least 20 such ITOs from the police investigation being sought by a consortium of media organizations, including Postmedia.
Future court hearings are scheduled to examine the reasons why portions of the ITOs are redacted, and to potentially argue over how necessary or supportable the redactions are. The reasons for the redactions will not be known until June 12.
The media’s court challenge to access the documents is to ensure transparency and public scrutiny over an important investigation, amid growing calls for a public inquiry into the incident.
Case law says search warrant information — once executed and if items are seized by police — should be public information.
Crown prosecutors, however, argue that some information involving third parties, victims, and information that could hamper an ongoing investigation, needs to be withheld from the public.