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Thank you Cpl. Clarke.
Before I begin and provide you with information related to the investigation and what we have learned thus far, I also want to highlight that today is the National Day of Mourning — a day dedicated to remembering and honoring those who have lost their lives or suffered injury or illness on the job. The recent events here in Nova Scotia remind us that policing is an inherently dangerous job, and today Constable Heidi Stevenson, who gave her life to protect her community, and Constable Chad Morrison, who was injured in the incident, are both very much on our minds. Thank you once again to everyone who bravely responded to intervene and those who stepped up to help them.
Today is also a day to acknowledge the victims of the tragic incidents on April 18 and 19, and I express my sincere condolences to all the families of the twenty-two innocent people who were killed at the hands of the gunman. I want to thank Nova Scotians for the support they have shown all the families and the RCMP.
Having provided an account of the incidents this past Friday, my focus today is on providing you with an update on our investigation and the information we have collected and pieced together to date.
Any homicide investigation is a significant endeavor. In this case, we are dealing with 22. We have a sizeable major crime team dedicated to the investigation and we have engaged specialized resources. In addition, we have experts across the country and are now receiving additional support from RCMP resources across the country. We have received support from external agencies, including the Canadian Armed Forces, Halifax Regional Police and Canada Border Services Agency.
I want to extend my appreciation to all of the law enforcement agencies who have offered assistance and support.
Our job is now to determine the actions of the gunman on April 18 and 19. Though the gunman will never stand trial, we still have a duty to complete this investigation by the same standards that we would if he was.
At this time, priority areas for us are to determine how the gunman obtained access to the equipment he used, to establish the gunman's movements on April 18 and 19, and to determine if anyone had knowledge of the gunman's plan, if any, and if they had assisted him in any way.
We have been focusing on witness interviews, video canvass, and judicial authorizations that allow us to obtain search warrants and records. This work has enabled us to gain a better picture.
To give you a sense of the scope of the investigation, we have identified over 435 witnesses to this point and we have interviewed more than half of them. There are many more interviews to come and we expect the witness list to grow. Also, we have completed approximately 20 legal applications and have obtained authorizations to help us determine the acquisition of equipment and the gunman's activities and movements.
I should point out that Nova Scotians have responded to our tip line. Thank you to everyone who has called and spoken with an investigator. I encourage anyone with information regardless of whether you think it's important or not to please call the toll-free tip line and share what you know.
I would like to address the uniform. From witness statements, we've learned that the gunman was a collector of many things, including police memorabilia and was in possession of multiple pieces of police uniforms from a variety of agencies. Many witnesses interviewed have spoken to the gunman's interest in the RCMP, which dates back some time.
We now know that on April 18 and 19, the gunman wore parts of an authentic RCMP uniform, including a shirt and pants with a yellow stripe. We also know that he changed his clothing as he travelled between communities.
We have yet to confirm exactly where or how he obtained the uniforms. This is an important aspect of our investigation and will take time.
We do know that surplus police uniforms are available to the public through a variety of means, including surplus stores, auctions and online.
I'm now going to address the police cars. We've learned through the investigation that the gunman's collection of police memorabilia, including the police cars, was widely known. He didn't hide the fact that he had the cars or the memorabilia from people who knew him. However, at this stage of the investigation, we have not uncovered any information that the police had knowledge that he possessed the vehicles.
Investigators have determined that all four police cars were former police models and the gunman acquired them through auctions within the last few years. With regard to the replicated police car he used on April 18 and 19, we believe he obtained it in the fall of 2019, and it was at that time that he outfitted it with the light bar and decals.
How he had the decals produced is an investigative detail that I can't get into other than to say we've made progress in this area.
I would like to now take you through a more detailed account of the gunman's movements on April 18 and 19. This information has been established through the efforts of our investigative teams.
At this point in our investigation, this is what we believe:
After receiving the first 9-1-1 call at 10:01 pm, officers arrived on scene in Portapique at 10:26 pm.
The information gathered since the incidents occurred leads us to believe the gunman left Portapique through a field at 10:35 pm.
We're now able to confirm that the gunman went to an industrial building in Debert, arriving at 11:10 pm, which suggests he travelled directly from Portapique to that area.
The gunman departed Debert at 5:45 am Sunday. What he did in that area between those times is of great interest to us. We have conducted a thorough search of the area and we are looking for anyone who may have seen anything suspicious to contact us.
From the industrial area of Debert, the gunman travelled to Wentworth. We have him on video on Hunter Road at approximately 6:30 am close to the residence where he killed two men and a woman.
We believe he entered the residence, killed the victims shortly after and remained there for some time.
The next photograph I'm showing you captures the gunman leaving the area at 9:35 am travelling south along Hunter Road heading back in the direction he came from earlier.
He travels south on Hwy 4 through Wentworth.
At 9:43 am he was near the intersection of Hwy 4 and Hwy 246. And at 9:48 am we received 911 call that place him at a residence in Wentworth where he knocked on the door but did not enter.
We next have him on video driving east on the Plains Road in Debert at 9:57 am.
From there, he travels eastbound on Hwy 4 toward Truro.
We've captured him on video moving through downtown Truro between 10:15 and 10:20 am It doesn't appear he made any stops in Truro.
From Truro, he takes Hwy 2 to Millbrook.
This photo of him at the Millbrook Fire Station, which you may have seen in the media, shows the gunman taking a jacket off and putting a reflective vest on.
The gunman continues southbound on Hwy 2 through Hilden.
We next have him on video going by the Brookfield Esso at 10:32 am.
The next two points of interest include where he encountered Cst. Chad Morrison and Cst. Heidi Stevenson.
After those encounters, the gunman travelled south on Hwy 224 for a short distance where he entered a home on the east side of the Highway. That is where he left the silver SUV he had been driving behind the home and removed the police clothing he was wearing. As mentioned on Friday, he transferred his weapons to the female victim's vehicle which was a Mazda 3.
He leaves there and travels via the 102 Hwy to Enfield. We next pick him up as he exits the highway goes by the weigh scales at 11:23 am.
In Enfield, he enters the BigStop.
Since our last press conference, our investigation has progressed quite significantly.
Five scenes are still being held in Portapique and Hunter Road as we continue our investigation, all others have been released back to the owners.
Traffic into the Portapique area is still being restricted.
Scenes will be held for as long as we need them as part of our investigation.
As I mentioned, we have pieced together the gunman's movements through witness statements and video canvass. There is still much work to be done on the investigation, but we have made significant progress to date. We are continuing to ask for anyone with information to call the tip line.