RCMP agent who visited NS shooter years before mass shooting testifies today | TBEN News


The RCMP officer who attended the mass shooting in Nova Scotia about 16 years before the mass shooting and was tasked with investigating at least one report of his illegal weapons is testifying before the investigation into the 2020 massacre.

const. Greg Wiley will testify on Tuesday before the Mass Casualty Commission leading the investigation into the April 18-19 2020 mass shooting that killed 22 people in the county. This week’s proceedings are virtual and Wiley will testify via a closed video link with media, lawyers and the commission, which will not be webcast.

Wiley spoke to RCMP shortly after the 2020 murders and to investigators on the commission last June. He is no longer based in Nova Scotia and has said he was shocked to discover that the gunman, Gabriel Wortman, was the same man he had visited in Portapique, NS, for tips on local crime.

“Apart from the pain, do ask yourself questions. I had a certain number of contacts with this man. Did I miss something? Did I sleep here behind the wheel? Could I somehow have been better on top of this or what then? ?” Wiley told the committee.

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“All I can answer is… I have a conscience, but I do sleep at night.”

First met after tool theft

Wiley said he developed a professional relationship with the gunman after responding to a break-in at his garage where tools were stolen around 2007 or 2008 while Wiley was working from the Bible Hill detachment.

Once most of the tools were recovered and the case closed, Wiley said he kept checking with the man regularly because he “knew the value” of community contact, a lesson he picked up as a cadet at the RCMP Depot in Saskatchewan. .

“And isn’t it ironic how it turned out?” said Willy.

The Mountie estimated that he stopped by about 16 times over the years to visit the shooter, often sitting and chatting over a soft drink in the living room of the cottage, or simply in the driveway. He said some of his Portapique visits would last an hour or more if he didn’t respond to other calls.

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It’s unclear exactly when Wiley’s visits took place, but most appear to have been between 2008 and 2011 before he was transferred to the Parrsboro area of ​​neighboring Cumberland County. Wiley said he last saw the shooter on a forest trail in Colchester County in 2017 when Wortman passed him on a quad bike, and had probably not seen him in years before that.

The gunman never seemed overly interested in his RCMP uniform or car, Wiley said. .

Wiley told the committee that he “had pretty good control of Wortman,” who was always polite, and said he “didn’t strike me as a violent man.”

Halifax police call after threat to parents

A few years after Wiley made contact with the gunman, a Halifax Regional Police Officer contacted Wiley in June 2010 about a tip that Wortman had threatened to kill his parents in New Brunswick.

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Cordell Poirier, a 35-year-old retired Halifax regional police officer, said in a commission interview that an RCMP officer from Moncton, NB, had called him to tell him about the alleged threat. The gunman’s father had also reported that his son was an alcoholic with “several long-barreled weapons.” The shooter never had a gun license.

Poirier investigated, but decided there was no need for a search warrant at the shooter’s home in Dartmouth.

The Halifax officer then spoke to Wiley over the phone about the complaint. Wiley “told me he was a good friend” of the gunman, according to Poirier, and was going to try and find out if he did indeed have weapons in his Portapique cottage.

Poirier said he never heard from Wiley again, and closed the file on his side.

Regional police investigators confer outside the Atlantic Denture Clinic in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia on April 20, 2020. Shooter Gabriel Wortman owned the clinic and lived in the apartment above it for years. (Tim Krochak/Getty Images)

But Wiley told the committee he couldn’t recall hearing from another officer about a threat complaint, didn’t recognize Poirier’s name, and couldn’t recall ever asking Wortman about guns — but he insisted that he should have done that.

“If I had told the man I would talk to Gabriel about that, I would have talked to Gabriel about it,” Wiley said. “Like, I wouldn’t have been negligent about that.”

Wiley did recall talking to the shooter about some sort of “disagreement” he had over a will or property with his family in New Brunswick, “but he wasn’t exaggerating about it.” The situation seemed quintessentially something Wiley went through himself growing up on an Ontario farm, he said.

Wiley said he didn’t see a gun rack or guns in the cottage, but never searched the house.

Exactly what Wiley did in 2010 to investigate the weapons and threat tip is unknown, as the RCMP files from that time have been removed as part of their regular practice. Wiley also searched for his notes on the shooter, but found none.

The remains of Gabriel Wortman’s Portapique cottage and burnt car in Portapique, NS in May 2020. (Steve Lawrence/TBEN)

During that visit in 2010, Lisa Banfield said that Wiley had asked Wortman if he had any weapons. The gunner showed the Mountie an old musket and a decorative rifle over a fireplace filled with wax. Wiley was only at Portapique’s cottage for about 10 minutes and did not appear to take an official statement from the shooter, nor did he search the house, Banfield said.

Lawyers for the victims’ families, including Michael Scott of Patterson Law, have asked Wiley to attend the investigation.

Scott has questioned whether Wiley was the right officer to investigate the shooter given their connection, saying he is unclear about the “appropriateness of those interactions.”

A year later, in May 2011, a security bulletin about the gunman was sent to all police departments in the province based on an anonymous tip to Cpl. Greg Densmore of the Truro Police Department.

Densmore said an unknown man approached him while on duty and said the gunman “declared he wanted to kill a cop”.

Wiley can’t remember following the tip from 2011

According to Densmore’s report, the source said Wortman had “at least one pistol” that he would take between Dartmouth and Portapique, plus “several long guns in his cottage” that may have been stored in a “compartment behind the chimney”.

“Be extremely careful when dealing with WORTMAN,” the bulletin said.

Poirier recognized the name and called the RCMP’s Bible Hill detachment, where he spoke to Supervisor on duty Const. John MacMinn. MacMinn said he would review Wiley’s file on the 2010 threat to “determine what action, if any, was taken last year” and return to Poirier.

But Poirer said that never happened, so from his perspective “that was it” and he left the case with the RCMP.

Chief Dan Kinsella of the Halifax Regional Police Department recently testified to the investigation that it was up to the RCMP to assume responsibility for investigating that tip, as the weapons were allegedly in the Portapique cottage in Mountie territory. .

Twenty-two people died on April 18-19, 2020. Top row from left: Gina Goulet, Dawn Gulenchyn, Jolene Oliver, Frank Gulenchyn, Sean McLeod, Alanna Jenkins. Second row: John Zahl, Lisa McCully, Joey Webber, Heidi Stevenson, Heather O’Brien and Jamie Blair. Third row from top: Kristen Beaton, Lillian Campbell, Joanne Thomas, Peter Bond, Tom Bagley and Greg Blair. Bottom row: Emily Tuck, Joy Bond, Corrie Ellison and Aaron Tuck. (TBEN)

He said that if a similar bulletin were to reach the Halifax Police Department, he expected action would be taken “on the spot.”

“It’s not meant to go into a database to look at it later, and hopefully someone finds it. Whether that happens in all cases, I don’t know,” Kinsella said.

In his interview with police, Wiley said he couldn’t remember seeing the Densmore bulletin detailing Wortman wanting to kill a cop, or conversations with MacMinn. When the commission asked if it was alarming to learn that the gunman wanted to kill a cop, Wiley said he can’t remember being given anything “so formal.”

“How I felt about him as a person was benign, so… I knew Dr. Jekyll, but I didn’t know Mr. Hyde at all,” Wiley said.

All records of Wiley’s or other RCMP officers’ investigations into the 2011 tip, if any, have also been removed from the system.

Scott told TBEN that details, such as the 2011 tipster referring to firearms kept in a chimney compartment in the shooter’s cottage, point to first-hand knowledge — and that’s “pretty reliable information” for an order.

The commission also plans to question Wiley about his involvement in the case of Susie Butlin, a Tatamagouche woman who was murdered by her neighbor in September 2017 after reporting him to RCMP for assault and harassment.

When Butlin called the RCMP on August 26, 2017 to report intimidating reports of her neighbor trying to intimidate her into dropping a peace guarantee application against him, Wiley was appointed as the lead investigator. He discussed the reports with Butlin and determined that there was no basis for filing a criminal charge.