Errors and omissions revealed in RCMP statements after Nova Scotia mass shooting

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In the times following the mass shooting that left 22 people dead in Nova Scotia, the RCMP’s statements to the general public have been riddled with errors, confusion and omissions, a newly launched report reveals.

The doc, printed Tuesday by the inquiry investigating the 2020 tragedy, additionally asserts that key details about the case, together with the victims’ names and the varieties of weapons utilized by the killer, was withheld from the general public longer than was wanted.

The fee of inquiry doesn’t have a mandate to assign blame, however the 126-page doc lays out an extended record of miscues and delays, a few of which attracted the ire of senior RCMP brass in Ottawa.

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The abstract of proof confirms that on the evening of April 19, 2020, when the Mounties held their first news convention concerning the killer’s 13-hour rampage, the RCMP initially selected to understate the quantity of people that have been identified to be victims.

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The senior Mountie who led the RCMP’s preliminary news conferences, Chief Supt. Chris Leather, stated after being pressed by reporters that “in excess of 10 have been killed.” However, earlier than his 6 p.m. news convention in Halifax, Leather knew that victims have been nonetheless being discovered and the official quantity stood at 17, the doc says.

In media interviews later that evening, the top of the RCMP, Commissioner Brenda Lucki, advised the CBC that 13 folks have been killed. And simply earlier than 8 p.m. that evening, Lucki advised The Canadian Press that the loss of life toll was 17.

The ensuing confusion prompted a flurry of emails amongst senior RCMP employees. Jolene Bradley, director of strategic communications at RCMP headquarters in Ottawa, despatched a message to her counterpart in Nova Scotia, saying, “Doesn’t help that the (commissioner) is giving the number!!!! Am really trying to get that back in the box for you.”

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information/8905835/ns-mass-shooting-communications-delay/”>Lia Scanlan, director of strategic communications in Halifax, replied: “Thank you. It looks awful and I’ve had to ask my entire team to turn their phones off …. Lord help me!!”

At 10:21 p.m., Scanlan despatched one other electronic mail to headquarters, saying: “Can I make a request to stop changing number on victims. Please allow us to lead the release of information. It looks fragmented and inconsistent.”

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In a followup interview with inquiry investigators, Scanlan stated authorities officers, together with Public Safety Minister Bill Blair and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, have been “weighing in on what we could and couldn’t say” throughout media briefings. She didn’t present additional particulars.

Scanlan has advised the inquiry that 10 was the quantity the Nova Scotia RCMP first used “because at a certain point, you have to call your information final.”


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RCMP communications official admits warning was delayed throughout N.S. mass shooting


RCMP communications official admits warning was delayed throughout N.S. mass shooting – Jun 8, 2022

By 11 p.m. on April 19, 2020, the RCMP had concluded that as much as 22 folks had been killed. The subsequent day, Leather stated the loss of life toll had climbed to a minimum of 19. The RCMP didn’t reveal the ultimate quantity till a press release was launched on April 21, 2020.

At one other level through the first news convention, Leather was requested if the killer was identified to police. Leather stated: “No, he was not.” But that was not the case.

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On the morning of April 19, 2020, the RCMP discovered from police information that the killer had threatened to kill his dad and mom in 2010 and had entry to lengthy weapons. The information additionally confirmed he had advised a police supply in 2011 that he “wanted to kill a cop.” And in early 2020, he had a weird however non-violent interplay with police who had parked their automobile in the lot subsequent to his denture-making business in Dartmouth, N.S.

As for the identities of the victims, Leather stated on April 20, 2020, that no names could be launched till Nova Scotia’s medical expert had confirmed the identification of sure people. The Mounties’ personal information, nevertheless, present that by 5:25 p.m. that day, the entire victims’ instant subsequent of kin had been notified of their deaths — and that RCMP headquarters had confirmed its help for releasing the names.

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By April 25, media stories confirmed the names of the 22 victims, however the RCMP had but to supply an inventory.

The RCMP’s operational guide says the names of deceased individuals may be launched as soon as subsequent of kin have been notified, however provided that the disclosure will additional the investigation, or there’s a public security concern or the identities have already been made public by different means.

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On one other entrance, Leather was requested at subsequent news conferences concerning the weapons owned by the gunman. He declined to supply particulars, saying he couldn’t remark as a result of the province’s police watchdog company — the Serious Incident Response Team (SIRT) — was investigating.

But the inquiry’s doc makes it clear the Mounties knew an important deal concerning the killer’s firearms early in their investigation.

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The RCMP had recovered a number of firearms from the stolen automotive the gunman was driving when he was shot useless by two Mounties at a gasoline station north of Halifax on April 19, 2020. A forensic identification officer had catalogued an inventory of 5 weapons, together with two semi-automatic rifles, by April 21.

The varieties of weapons utilized by the shooter, nevertheless, weren’t shared in the 5 news conferences that passed off in the week following the mass shooting.

Internal RCMP paperwork present that on April 28, 2020, Lucki convened a gathering of senior RCMP officers, throughout which she stated she was upset that particulars about firearms had been omitted. According to notes taken by RCMP Supt. Darren Campbell, Lucki stated she felt “disobeyed” when these particulars weren’t shared.


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RCMP officer who pulled over N.S. gunman testifies at inquiry


RCMP officer who pulled over N.S. gunman testifies at inquiry

Campbell’s notes say Lucki had promised the Prime Minister’s Office that the RCMP would launch the descriptions, including that the data “was tied to pending gun control legislation that would make officers and public safer.”

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In response, Campbell advised Lucki that he was the one who had requested the strategic communications group to not launch the firearms particulars as a result of doing so might jeopardize the RCMP’s investigation into how the gunman obtained them.

The inquiry’s doc additionally takes difficulty with Leather’s assertion on April 20, 2020, that police didn’t know concerning the killer’s reproduction police automobile till the morning of April 19 — the second day of the killer’s rampage.

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The inquiry has heard the Mounties have been first advised the gunman was driving a totally marked reproduction cruiser shortly after 10 p.m. on April 18, 2020, when 911 calls beginning coming in from Portapique, N.S., the place 13 folks have been killed. More witnesses got here ahead at 10:25 p.m. and the following morning at 5:16 a.m.

The doc additionally reveals that RCMP Const. Wayne Tingley had seen the totally marked RCMP reproduction in Elmsdale, N.S., on April 17, 2020 — a day earlier than the shootings began.

He observed the automotive had a push bar — unusual for precise RCMP cruisers — and lacked a licence plate however he didn’t see the motive force. Tingley offered a press release to the RCMP about his sighting on April 23, 2020.

This report by The Canadian Press was first printed June 21, 2021.

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— With information from Lyndsay Armstrong and Keith Doucette

© 2022 The Canadian Press

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