At least 16 people have been killed in a 12-hour shooting rampage in several communities in the Canadian province of Nova Scotia, according to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP).

At a press conference in Dartmouth of the province Sunday evening, April 19,  Nova Scotia RCMP Chief Superintendent Chris Leather confirmed there were at least 16 people killed in several locations across the province, including an RCMP officer. 

Nova Scotia shooting
RCMP officers go over a car collision scene involving the fake RCMP car driven by Gabriel Wortman in Shubenacadie, Nova Scotia, Canada April 19, 2020. Reuters.

Among the victims of the shooting spree that spread across part of the Atlantic Canadian province was RCMP officer Heidi Stevenson, a 23-year veteran of the force with two children.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said the gunman, 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman, who worked as a denturist, appeared at one stage to have been wearing part of a police uniform. He had also painstakingly disguised his car to look like a police cruiser.

Police added they had ended the threat posed by Wortman, who was dead but would not confirm a report by the CTV network that the RCMP had shot him.

No indication that the killings were terrorism-related

Wortman shot people in several locations in Nova Scotia, the RCMP told a briefing. RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki told the Canadian Broadcasting Corp the police knew of at least 16 victims, besides the shooter. She added there was no indication at this time that the killings were terrorism-related.

canada police
A Royal Canadian Mounted Police vehicle passes the Fairmont Chateau Laurier as it leaves a secure area downtown following shootings in Ottawa on 22 October 2014.Reuters/Blair Gable

Police said there was no apparent link between Wortman and at least some of his victims. They said they had no idea what his motivation might have been. "Today is a devastating day for Nova Scotia, and it will remain etched in the minds for many years to come," said Lee Bergerman, commanding officer of the RCMP in Nova Scotia.

The death toll exceeded that of a Montreal massacre in 1989 when a gunman killed 15 women. Mass shootings are relatively rare in Canada, which has tighter gun control laws than the United States. Nova Scotia, like the rest of Canada, is under a stay-at-home order because of the coronavirus pandemic.