Paul Palango is a Nova Scotian – chapter six


Cyndi Starratt has so much faith in God that she believes He has orchestrated her life for her to achieve some unknown greater purpose. Peruse her various Facebook pages for more than a decade and, for the most part, she comes across as a Bible pounder, a woman in her mid-50s who has careered from grace to alcoholism, with lots of sex throughout.  She’s an anti-vax religious proselytizer who admires Paris Hilton. She credits the vapid U.S. heiress for helping her to think straight. She has suffered through more than her fair share of lying, violent, weird men in her life. Her ex-husband was into child porn and was abusive toward her. She ended up in jail for assaulting him. But if she ever thought that was the worst scourge her God could inflict upon her, she was undoubtedly disappointed. The Supreme Being had an even more difficult test planned for her – Gabriel Wortman, the Dartmouth denturist who killed 22 Nova Scotians in two separate rampages on April 18 and 19, 2020.

Full article from Frank Magazine

Paul Palango is a Nova Scotian

The Nova Scotia gunman (Gabriel Wortman) may have been a confidential informant for the RCMP – June 15 2020

Portapique inquiry delays point to predetermined outcome by Paul Palango – FRANK MAGAZINE THURSDAY JANUARY 13, 2022

The quest for accountability in the murders of 22 residents of Nova Scotia has proven to be a road littered with delays, distractions and deflections.

The latest twist came on January 11 when nearing its promised public hearings set to begin on January 25, the Mass Casualty Commission investigating the massacres announced in a mealy-mouthed press release that it was putting off those hearings until February 22, a date which was not mentioned in the press release but could be found elsewhere on the commission’s website. No reasons were cited for the postponement.

This is the second major delay in hearings which were originally slated to begin last October but the three-person commission said it needed more time to review key the large volumes of materials – much of it contained in the ongoing series of Frank Magazine articles.

The new delay should come as no surprise after this magazine published confidential internal documents provided to it by Red Horse, a disgruntled insider who believes the Commission is not acting on the up-and-up.

Reading between the lines of the press release and the Commission’s website, any astute observer could detect any number of disturbing revelations.

“An important part of the process for creating Foundational Documents has been consulting and meeting with Participants to identify gaps or errors to ensure the Foundational Documents are as accurate as possible before they are shared publicly,” the release states. “As we anticipated, additional information and evidence has been identified that our investigations and legal teams are now reviewing.”

Then there is this: “Public proceedings will include hearings, expert roundtables, the sharing of Foundational Documents and Commissioned Reports.”

Since there is no intent for anyone to be “adversarial,” the plan is for hearings that are devoid of tension or truth seeking. It’s all going to be orchestrated by the documents and the pre-planned chatter. No one is supposed to get emotional about 22 people being murdered, the life and times of a mad man with apparent close connections to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and that police force’s inability or unwillingness to get in front of him and stop him when they had more than a half a day to do so. Oh yeah, and the force didn’t put out a public alert when it should have.

The commission is clearly attempting to turn a much-needed investigation into an unprecedented, murderous rampage into a group discussion on the greater and lesser merits of lachrymal avoidance. Call it the world’s most boring coverup

The Portapique Portal – Part 1; A cold dark night

A comprehensive timeline of the events leading up to and during the Nova Scotia Massacres on April 18-19 2020.

The Portapique Portal – Part 2; Where’s Wortman?

The Portapique Portal – Part 3; A lingering darkness

The Portapique Portal – Part 4; It’s Zero degrees outside!


Gabriel Wortman likely committed suicide with the service revolver he stole from RCMP Constable Heidi Stevenson after he murdered her on April 19, 2020.

Two independent sources, both with knowledge of the inner workings of the Mass Casualty Commission, say there’s a good chance the possibility of the denturist’s suicide will be raised in public foundational documents being compiled by the commission.

“Wortman potentially shoots himself and then they shoot him,” White Knight told Frank Magazine, describing how two as-yet-unidentified Mounties unloaded on Wortman. A second, independent source confirmed things appear to be moving in that direction in the MCC foundational document sewing circle.

Video tape obtained by Frank Magazine last June indicates that about 20 rounds were fired at or into Wortman. “When they finally shot him at the Irving Big Stop, he was basically a piece of Swiss Cheese,” White Knight says.

“He was shot in the neck and head. They pull him out of the car, lay his body face down on the pavement and then cuff him with zip ties behind his back.” (Or, as Frank reported last year, shoelaces-ed.)

Suicide or not, hundreds of questions remain unanswered. How did the RCMP know it was Wortman in the car that day? Why did they not make an attempt to arrest him? Police watchdog Felix Cacchione, director of the Serious Incident Response Team, issued a report in which he described a final confrontation with Wortman that did not match with video evidence later obtained by Frank Magazine. 

Cacchione said Constable Craig Hubley identified Wortman and called upon another Mountie for assistance. A scenario that looked like that actually occurred minutes earlier at a Petro Canada station in Elmsdale. Cacchione has defended his version of events. He admitted that the Elmsdale incident had taken place but that the officers there did not identify Wortman. By the way, the shy and retiring Hubley, who has never spoken in public about any of this, is the beloved stepson on Nova Scotia Supreme Court Chief Justice Deborah K. Smith.

The problem with any findings by the Mass Casualty Commission should be obvious.  Twenty-two months down the road, there is possible evidence of gross, if not criminal, negligence by the RCMP, yet there has been no investigation. The RCMP has been not only allowed to investigate itself, it has a seat at the Commission with a say in interpreting the evidence, as if this is all so normal.

Twenty-two months down the road, the public has been shown no ballistics evidence for any of the shootings. There have been no coroner’s inquests. Everything is a secret that needs to be pried out of the grasp of the Mounties and the government.

If Wortman indeed committed suicide 22 months ago, how could anyone inside the RCMP or government not think that would be helpful for the public to know at the time? Even then, it took a whistleblower to leak the news. If something as simple and clear cut as that is being hidden, what else is there? 

Policed by the RCMP? Get yourself a gun – Second of two articles. Frank Magazine February 7, 2022

by Paul Palango

A credible source who has viewed transcripts of RCMP communications during Gabriel Wortman’s murderous rampage in April 2020 has a single recommendation for the public. “It’s absolutely clear that the police who were supposed to be there to protect (the public) were incompetent,” says the source, whom we’ve nicknamed White Knight. “If there was a message in all this, it would be this: If you are in a jurisdiction being policed by the RCMP, you should get guns for your own safety.”

White Knight, like previous Frank Magazine sources, including True Blue and Red Horse, stepped forward recently out of a sense of frustration about the lack of transparency displayed by the federal and provincial governments, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and the Mass Casualty Commission empanelled to investigate the massacres of April 18 and 19, 2020.

“From what I’ve seen, there is no way to sugar coat this for the RCMP,” White Knight said. “In the best-case scenario this is a horrific case of incompetence after incompetence after incompetence.” White Knight, who has participated in the Mass Casualty Commission’s secret sessions for months, says the entire RCMP response to the Portapique scene that Saturday night smacked of the poor quality of training, and even poorer supervision that happens inside the force.

“The Mounties were acting like they were dealing with 29 people or something,” said our new source who, because of the confidentiality agreement the MCC forces participants to sign, is risking their livelihood to speak to us. “You would have thought under the circumstances that they would have been running all over the community trying to save people.”

Audio tapes obtained by Frank Magazine over the past 14 months confirm eyewitness reports that instead of charging into the Portapique neighbourhood, the Mounties used the majority of their manpower and resources erecting roadblocks in locations kilometres away. But the roadblocks failed to catch Wortman who, it appears, drove right past the Mounties and escaped that night, took a rest in Debert, and then went on killing nine more people the next day.

“The whole thing is that they start setting up roadblocks and stuff, but it made no sense,” White Knight said.

“It’s a rural community. There are backroads and driveable paths and water. Why take half of your manpower and put them in intersections far from the scene and let the gunman get away?”

Going through the communication records, White Knight detected an institutional cowardice in the RCMP. This is clearly the result of numerous crippling factors. It has been cowed by multiple high-profile screw ups across the country over the years. It is bedevilled by poor recruitment, weak retention of staff and a much-criticized promotion system that propels the least field-tested of managers to the top. After the force was fined $550,000 for failing its members in Moncton, three of whom were murdered in June 2014, dangerous situations now elicit a fear of more fines or prosecution for the force. 

All this trickles down to members who avoid danger. They call it FIDO – Fuck It, Drive On. The end result is that, with notable exceptions in the field, the RCMP is all uniform and no heart. You could argue that’s been ingrained in the force’s genetic makeup for 40 years.

In previous reporting I have noted that multiple law enforcement sources have described how one of the first RCMP members who arrived on the scene hid in the bushes and threw away her gun. The same corporal apparently ordered members not to go down the road at the risk of losing their jobs.

“No one was shooting at them,” White Knight said of the events that took place on that Saturday night at Portapique Beach. “The Mounties seemed terrified the entire time. That will come out in the public version of the foundational papers. All they were really doing was taking precautions so that they wouldn’t be exposed to any personal risk. When it all blew over and calmed down, then they were going to march in.”

After that weekend, 70 Mounties took months, some longer, off work on medical leave costing taxpayers several million dollars for replacements to be brought in from across the country. Many others at all ranks right up to Assistant Commissioner Leona (Lee) Bergerman and Chief Superintendent Janis Gray have retired and slipped away from being held accountable.

The fear factor in the RCMP response was evident throughout Wortman’s rampage, until it came to an end at the Irving Big Stop in Enfield on the morning of April 19. White Knight added, somewhat sarcastically, “The RCMP will say that ‘we did this all by the book, the way we’re supposed to do things,’ as if being super cautious and terrified is the way you are supposed to do it.”

White Knight believes the communications should be released, not just the transcripts, so that the public can fully understand the issues at hand. “What I got from all this is this message: If you ever have to call the RCMP for help, they will hide several hundred metres from your house until they are sure it’s safe to go in.” 

Save the kids are save the ex- con ?

By Paul Palango in Frank Magazine – Jan 12 2021

On that terrible night in Portapique, the RCMP faced what on the surface, at least, seemed like a no-brainer of a situation: rescue four children hiding in a basement after their parents had been murdered by Gabriel Wortman, or save a convicted drug trafficker with ties to a Mexican drug cartel and his parents. Save the kids or save the con. An easy choice, you’d think. Yet, the RCMP chose to evacuate convicted drug trafficker Peter Griffon and his parents, Alan and Joanne Griffon, an hour or so before attending to the children. The cavalry showed up at the Griffon house at 4 Faris Lane sometime around midnight.

Meanwhile, since 10:01 p.m. on April 18, four terrified children, two aged 12 and two aged 10, had been on the line with a 911 operator for about two hours, hunkered in the basement of slain school-teacher Lisa McCully’s house at 135 Orchard Beach Drive. Some half a kilometre away from the Griffon residence, as the crow flies. Two of the boys were the children of Greg and Jamie Blair. A boy and a girl were McCully’s children. The Blair children had taken their dead father’s cell phone from his pocket, run over to the McCully house and woke the children there. Outside, McCully was already lying dead on the front lawn.

The Mounties left the children there until around 1 a.m., a total of three hours, according to RCMP communications recordings obtained recently by Frank magazine. The recordings, which we will call the Portapique Comms, were archived on the Pictou County Public Safety channel, which can be found on the U.S. website Broadcastify. What does it mean, that the RCMP chose to save a relatively recent parolee over four frightened children? Thirteen people were murdered at Portapique and nine more the next day across central Nova Scotia, the largest death toll in a shooting spree in Canadian history.

Eleven of the 13 murdered at Portapique lived or were killed on or near Orchard Beach Drive, which forks off from Portapique Beach Road, just south of Highway 2. They were: McCully, the Blairs, Frank Gulenchyn and Dawn Madsen, Corrie Ellison, Aaron Tuck, Jolene Oliver, Emily Tuck and Peter and Joy Bond. Two of the murders occurred on Portapique Beach Road. The victims were John Zahl and Elizabeth (Jo) Thomas, who lived at 293 Portapique Beach Road between Wortman’s cottage and across Faris Lane from the Griffon’s corner property which faces onto Portapique Beach Road.

Over the past nine months, the RCMP has begrudgingly released information about what it did and has been doing in the case. It has refused to give precise timelines. Much of what the RCMP has said about its investigation has come from court documents known as informations to obtain a search warrant (ITOs). Those documents have been redacted, covered over with black ink. A media consortium has spent tens of thousands of dollars uncovering some of what has been hidden under the ink.

The Portapique Comms do not provide a complete record of what the RCMP was doing that night because some officers were using encrypted channels, cell phones or both. However, the recordings, combined with information already on the public record and information from new witnesses raise major questions, perhaps none more serious than why the RCMP was so invested in protecting the Griffons.

Who evacuated the Griffons, and why?

Alan and Joanne Griffon were friends with Wortman and his common-law wife, Lisa Banfield. They had moved in 15 years earlier. On April 18, Peter Griffon was living in a shack on a 20-acre plot of land known as 287 Portapique Beach Road owned by Wortman. Peter is a convicted drug trafficker in Alberta with ties to the Mexican drug cartel La Familia. He was granted an early parole about two years earlier. In his interviews with the RCMP in the days and weeks after Wortman’s rampage, Peter said he was Wortman’s handyman and friend. He first denied but later admitted that he was the one who installed RCMP decals on the decommissioned police car that Wortman used in his two rampages. His parole was revoked temporarily but he was never charged with an offense.

In the RCMP’s unredacted documents, Alan Griffon reported seeing Wortman’s cottage at 200 Portapique Beach Road on fire that Saturday night. He said he called 911 at 9:15 p.m. Peter Griffon saw Wortman’s warehouse at 136 Orchard Beach Drive on fire around the same time. In the same documents, the RCMP rebut the Griffons’ version of events stating that the call to 911 was at 10:39 p.m. The exact time when Wortman started the fires has never been clear.

Great Village Fire Chief Larry Kinsman said in a recent interview that he was called by Bass River Fire Chief Alfred Grue sometime after 10 p.m. but before 10:30 p.m. and told about a number of fires at Portapique. He said the RCMP had already ordered the Bass River department to stand by. Kinsman said he was told that Great Village should be ready but not respond.

“A few minutes after I hung up with Grue, the RCMP called and said they wanted to use the hall as a command centre,” Kinsman said in the interview. Alan and Peter Griffon provided two other important time references. On Page 65 of the unredacted ITOs, Alan Griffon is quoted as saying: “Around 23:15 (11:15 p.m.) he (Alan Griffon) noted that the house across from his was not on fire and approximately 15 minutes later a set of headlights came into his yard. Alan Griffon heard knocking and banging on his door and the person was there for a solid five minutes. The person did not yell out anything and was knocking on the door and ringing the doorbell.”

Who was knocking at the Griffons’ door? Was it Wortman? Lisa Banfield? Or was someone else in the neighbourhood who hasn’t been identified? Even more curious is the statement that the Griffons wouldn’t answer the door. We can only speculate because the Griffons are refusing to talk to media, but why wouldn’t they come to the door? If it was because they were frightened, what did they know? According to the RCMP’s narrative, Wortman supposedly had left the scene through a path beside a blueberry field, either at 10:35 p.m. as the RCMP first stated, or at 10:45 p.m. as it later told some family members. By 11:15 p.m. the RCMP says Wortman had just arrived on Ventura Drive in Debert where he purportedly hid out all night behind a welding shop.

In case you need reminding, Banfield’s story was that she escaped handcuffs and ran away from Wortman, wearing no shoes or jacket, and hid in the woods on a freezing cold night until 6:30 a.m., where she showed up at the door of Leon Joudrey. Alan Griffon also stated in the ITOs that “around midnight they (Alan, Joanne and Peter) were evacuated from their house by the RCMP and they left the area.” Who in the RCMP rescued them?

Over the past nine months, it has been made abundantly clear and repeatedly reported that the first responders to Portapique were held in check at the intersection of Portapique Beach Road and Highway 2. The RCMP has never disputed this. It has also been made abundantly clear and repeatedly reported that the first Emergency Response Team members did not arrive until well after midnight. We also know that four children hid in the McCully basement while on the line with a 911 operator for what was initially described as two hours. (The Portapique Comms confirm that the children were left in place for three hours or more.)

The RCMP had a choice. Some of its officers were chomping at the bit to rescue the children but were being held back, yet the Griffons were rescued before them? It’s precisely the opposite of what 99.9 per cent of police officers would normally do in such a situation.

Why were the Griffons such a priority?

Orchard Beach Drive – It appears that all regular members, the men and women in marked patrol cars, were kept on the outside of the crime scenes south of Highway 2. Many of them were manning road blocks west of Portapique all the way to Bass River, a distance of about eight kilometres. Wortman escaped to the east along Highway 2.

The only time any of the Mounties appeared to venture into the neighbourhood was after 1 a.m. when a foray was finally mounted to rescue the four children at 135 Orchard Beach Drive. At that time the bodies of the Blairs, McCully and Corrie Ellison were likely discovered by Mounties, but apparently from a distance. The tight control by commanding officers on the RCMP members on the ground could be heard in the following seemingly innocuous transmission.

Constable Stuart Beselt was reported to be the first officer to arrive at the scene that night at 10:26 p.m. He met neighbour Andrew MacDonald who was trying to escape from Gabriel Wortman who had just fired two shots at him and his wife. Around 1 a.m., Beselt went on the rescue mission of the children, headed by Sgt. Dave Lilly. After the children were evacuated from Lisa McCully’s house in a Tactical Armoured Vehicle (TAV), Beselt and a few others were left behind to “hunker down” on the dark and freezing cold night.

At 1:50 a.m. Beselt radioed the incident commander, likely Staff-Sgt. Jeff West: “Looking to see if we can walk out, if it’s going to be a lot longer.” Eventually a TAV was sent to pick the Mounties after 2 a.m. Clinton Ellison was hiding in the woods 150 metres or so to the south of McCully’s property. The Mounties made no attempt to let the Mounties already near him to go find him. They didn’t get to him for another 40 minutes, for reasons that are unclear.

The Mounties had finally inserted themselves into the neighbourhood but were ordered to immediately retreat. For reasons that are likewise unclear. Armed with Colt C8 rifles – an AR-15 like semi-automatic weapon – they were told to do nothing but defend themselves, if need be. “That’s an unnatural thing for the police to do,” said one expert police observer who reviewed the tapes. “They had established a beachhead. They appear to have found multiple victims. There were more of them than the killer. There were ERT units there to lead the charge. But then they were told to retreat and not investigate… Something’s missing in the story.”

All the regular Mounties were brought back to Highway 2 and kept outside the neighbourhood, chasing what normally would have been low priority calls to the neighbourhoods around Five Houses Road and Bayshore Road, more than two kilometres away.

An ERT team finally checked the vital signs of Ellison and McCully around 3:05 a.m. It appears officers there put yellow tarps over the bodies and then retreated, leaving them lying outside until well into the next morning. Some members were sent home at 6:30 a.m., while others left at 7 a.m., shortly after Lisa Banfield supposedly emerged from the woods. Throughout all this, there appears to be no attempt to do anything proactive on Orchard Beach Drive even after daylight arrived.

The RCMP has stated in the past that much of its time was devoted to going house to house “clearing” the area. There was no evidence of such action on the tapes. Residents in the neighbourhood say the RCMP did nothing of the kind. There clearly was little or no effort to evacuate people and take them out of harm’s way on Orchard Beach Road, Portapique Crescent or Cobequid Court, where there were perhaps 10 houses occupied in all. Even the next day, finding out what happened on the road seemed quite low on the RCMP to-do list.

Resident Judy Myers was visited around 9:30 in the morning by ERT members who suggested that she evacuate, which she did. She and her husband Doug, who was the driver, drove up Orchard Beach Drive to find the bodies of Corrie Ellison and Lisa McCully lying by the road under the yellow tarps. Ellison’s leg was partially uncovered.

Tammy Oliver-McCreadie, the sister of Jolene Oliver, recently was able to gain access to her brother-in-law Aaron Tuck’s cell phone. To her astonishment she found a text from RCMP Constable Wayne (Skipper) Bent to Aaron. It was sent at 1:15 p.m. that Sunday. The Oliver family had been frantically calling the RCMP throughout that day because they couldn’t reach their family members. The RCMP repeatedly told them they were checking. But they hadn’t been. Not in person, anyway.

The text to Aaron Tuck read: “This is Cst. Bent with the RCMP. Looking for Aaron Tuck to call me ASAP. Important. Thank you.” The three Tucks couldn’t answer Skipper Bent’s text for obvious reasons. Their bodies weren’t found until near 6 p.m. that Sunday, while the Olivers kept calling the RCMP and being stalled by Bent and the new officer in charge Corp. Gerard Rose-Berthiaume. “I have really no idea why in the %#@& would they text and not walk down the road and check them,” Oliver-McCurdie wrote in a message to Frank. “The phones were in the house. Aaron’s was plugged in charging.”

That Saturday night and well into the day on Sunday, the RCMP seemed obsessed with keeping regular members away from nine crime scenes at Portapique Beach, even after the threat had been neutralized. Nobody bothered to do a wellness check on the Tucks, for one small example, until seven hours after Gabriel Wortman’s rampage was finally brought to an end in Enfield. Why? And on the previous night, why was the safety of three grown adults – an ex-con among them – prioritized over that of four scared pre-teen children?

Paul can be reached at his secure and encrypted email address:

Inside the chaos

By Paul Palango

An exchange between an Emergency Response Team officer and the RCMP incident commander in Portapique is one of several chilling moments to come across an open analog communications channel in the overnight hours of April 18 and 19.  “Oscar Charlie, Hotel One… We’ve just stopped here on the road, ah, we’re going to do a quick vitals on this deceased person on the side of the road just to make sure he’s deceased and not still alive.” It was more than four and a half hours after RCMP received the first call that something was amiss in Portapique. The ERT officer, going by the callsign Hotel One, is addressing Staff-Sgt. Jeff West (Oscar Charlie), the long time head of traffic services for the RCMP in N.S. who was in command on the scene. 

“Yah, confirmed, deceased,” the Mountie said of Corrie Ellison, 34 seconds later. “What road was that on, Jim,” a Mountie believed to be West asked. Jim didn’t know. There are only three main roads in the survey and a couple of side roads but the Mounties were having extreme difficulty finding their way throughout the night. Since he couldn’t describe where the body was, the Mountie marked it with GPS co-ordinates. “N 45.397153,” Jim said. ”W 063.703527.” The Mountie then walked across the road to where Lisa McCully’s body was lying on the front lawn. In earlier conversations the ERT members acknowledged that the first call to 911 came from “the teacher’s house” which they were now standing in front of. 

At 3:04 a.m., the Mountie reported to control: “Going to do a second vital on a second body out by the fence … over by the other body.” “Okay,” the supervisor said. “Oscar Charlie copy.”  Thirty-six seconds later, the Mountie announced the coordinates “for the second body”. A little over an hour earlier, at 1:50 a.m., another Mountie did an initial, quick examination of a body believed to be Corrie Ellison’s. “Hotel One to risk manager. “Go Hotel One,” said risk manager Staff Sgt. Brian Rehill who was located at the makeshift command centre at the Great Village firehall, about a seven minute drive away.

“The father of these two (garbled) … they approached (garbled) to check out the fire…. He shot one of them in the head. It’s a 40-calibre Smith and Wesson.” The Mounties did not tape off the scene or protect it any other way. Hours later, neighbour Judy Myers drove by the bodies, now covered by a yellow tarp, on her way out of Portapique that Sunday morning. The tapes, obtained by Frank Magazine earlier this week, provide an unadulterated window into what took place during those overnight hours. The radio transmissions reveal, among other things:

-At 12:50 a.m., an exchange between Hotel One and an unidentified commanding officer: “Just letting you know that this guy is alive at (garbled) armed with firearms and two of the (garbled) possibly with head shots and known to have long guns.” It is not known at this time who gave them this information. 

-Four children who were reportedly hiding in the basement of slain school-teacher Lisa McCully were not there for two hours as publicly reported over the last eight months but likely more than THREE hours before being rescued;

-The RCMP’s encrypted communications system was not working properly. The system is set up so that members operate in pods. Encryption is changed weekly. With such a mass gathering of Mounties from different areas, there appeared to be problem syncing their communications, which caused the force to rely on one-to-one cell phone conversations. Which as you can imagine, are detrimental in such a situation with so many players. Around midnight, the force switched over to an old-fashioned analog system, Pictou Public Safety Channel, which is based about 105 kilometres away in Pictou. As the RCMP tried to communicate on the channel, ambulance calls from as far away as Port Hawkesbury took up space and sometimes overlapped conversations. The flip side was that the ambulance drivers or anyone with a scanner, perhaps Wortman himself, could hear what was going on in Portapique;

-In the early morning hours of April 19, there were at least five, four-man ERT teams operating in Portapique and in the surrounding area that could be heard on the transmissions: Hotel One, Hotel Seven, Hotel Nine, Hotel Fifteen and Hotel Sixteen. There may have been more. But, as previously reported here and elsewhere, access in and out of Portapique appeared to be limited to ERT members and perhaps a few others who were investigating Wortman’s whereabouts and, later, an identification team to examine the dead bodies.

-When its members were sent home the next morning, some at 6:30 a.m. and others at 7 a.m. after a long night, the RCMP clearly did not understand the scope of the massacre. As far as it knew there were four murders in a clearly confined area – the Bond and McCully homes next door to each other on Orchard Beach Drive. ‘Priority has switched’

Throughout the night, the RCMP incident and risk commanders were distracted by the plight of Clinton Ellison who was hiding in the woods after finding his brother Corrie dead sometime before 11 p.m. on April 18th. Ellison said someone with a flashlight had stalked him. He hid in the woods and called his father, Richard, who called police. “The kid on the phone had just found his brother who was shot a couple of hours ago and he’s just too scared to go anywhere, so he’s hiding in the woods,” noted one officer. A burly man in his 40’s, “the kid” was rescued at about 2:40 a.m., after a search which featured Mounties chasing flashing lights in the neighbourhood to the west, across the Portapique River, for hours. 

Clinton Ellison’s story about being stalked by someone with a flashlight hooked the RCMP brain trust, even though the timing of his story is a challenge to the established timeline. Richard Ellison called 911 at 10:59 p.m. according to the tapes and statements from the RCMP. Wortman was last seen heading south on Orchard Beach Drive around 10:26 p.m. He is said to have left the area at 10:35 or 10:45, depending upon which version of the RCMP story you choose to believe. Ellison said he walked north up the road where he found his brother’s dead body, but didn’t see Wortman, only what he thought was a flashlight. It appears that Wortman had already left the scene.

Nevertheless, multiple RCMP units were dispatched to the other side of the Portapique River and for hours chased down reports of people with flashlights, flickering lights on porches and people in parked cars mysteriously flashing their lights at the Mounties along Bayshore Road and in the community of Five Houses. They had roadblocks set up all along Highway 2 between the Portapique River and Bass River.

RCMP risk manager Rehill has the ERT teams whipsawed. The ERT ferries officers from here to there across the river. But the ERT doesn’t know its way around the neighbourhood. It thinks Bayshore Road is somewhere off Portapique Beach Road, part of the survey, when there is actually a river between them. At 1:12 a.m., it’s reported that there’s a “vehicle by the side of its road flashing lights again…” The ERT commander thinks the location is off Portapique Beach Road but actually it’s on the other side of the river, about a kilometre or more away by road. 

Around 1:30 a.m.: “Priority has switched. Risk manager has them going down to 67 Bayshore Road to check out someone with a flashlight”. At least one police dog is out, but “isn’t showing much interest,” one Mountie reported. Someone thought they saw someone with a flashlight in their backyard. The RCMP checked and found nothing. The ERT teams, unfamiliar with the territory, got lost and turned around and confused time after time. The last half hour of the rescue of Clinton Ellison was a low point in the confusion. 

There are only two main roads, Portapique Beach Road and Orchard Beach Drive. A third road, Portapique Crescent runs in a semi-circle from a point at the north end of Orchard Beach to an intersection at the south end. What follows is a sampling of some of the exchanges as both Richard and Clinton Ellison end up talking with a dispatcher. “Just got another call. There’s a male in the woods off Orchard Beach Road. It’s just past the school teacher’s house. It’s a big house with a white car in the driveway and has told our caller (Richard) that his brother is dead up the road and he’s too scared to answer the phone so he’s hiding there. A Clinton Ellison.”

“Can someone tell us if that’s north or south of where we’re at. We’re at 136 on this road,” say the “hunkered down” officers who are likely in place after the children were rescued. They were waiting for the ERT to return and give them a ride out of the area. “Can someone tell me if that’s north or south of where we’re at?” “If that’s the school teacher’s house. That’s where the initial complaint came in,” interjected Staff-Sergeant Andy O’Brien. “If that’s the case, it’s just north,” said the dispatcher.

It was actually south. This would go on for almost an hour. “Units,” the dispatcher says around 1:53 a.m., “he (Clinton) doesn’t have a time frame. He’s been hiding for a while in the cold. But, he says, he did have someone following him for awhile with a flashlight pinging it on and off… but he doesn’t know if that was an hour ago, two hours ago or a few minutes ago.” “He’s wearing all black if you do come across him,” the dispatcher adds. “Everything else is black and a black hat.”

Finally, as the ERT started to close in on Clinton’s location, the members again become worried that it’s all a set up by Wortman. “Just making sure it’s not our suspect looking for an ambush on us,” an ERT member said. Clinton finally went through the woods to the east and ended up on Portapique Crescent but the people in the ERT team clearly don’t have a map of the area and can’t follow Clinton’s instructions. In the ERT team’s defense, Clinton kept moving around and he was wearing all black in the pitch dark. 

It has previously been reported that somewhere along the line the RCMP assumed Wortman had committed suicide, but there is nothing about that on the tapes. They sent everyone home at 6:30 a.m. after a long hard night. That’s when Wortman’s common-law wife Lisa Banfield appeared out of the woods and went to Leon Joudrey’s house sporting fresh makeup, bare feet and spandex. There’s nothing on the tapes, but now it appears that it might have gone the other way around. Did Banfield’s appearance somehow cause the Mounties to declare a victory and that’s why they went home?

Throughout all this Gabriel Wortman was long gone from the community and getting ready to mount a second killing spree that would leave nine more people dead. The Mounties never got in front of him until Constable Heidi Stevenson at a traffic circle in Shubenacadie. She ended up murdered. All of which brings us back to the incident commander, traffic specialist Staff Sgt. Jeff West, who, as Frank has reported previously, took over command at 1:22 that morning. News of his appointment brought this response from one of the cottage owners in Portapique, who asked not to be identified. “You would have thought he would have been the perfect guy for the job,” he said. “Shutting down the highways to stop Gabriel was something right up his alley.”

Paul can be reached at his secure and encrypted email address:

12 Minutes in Portapique

FRANK MAGAZINE MARCH 16, 2022 By Paul Palango 

Almost lost in the volumes of useful and useless information released in recent weeks by the Mass Casualty Commission, lies the still untold story of what actually happened at Portapique Beach during a critical 12-minute period on the bloody Saturday night of April 18, 2020. It is 12 minutes that defines why there continues to be so much mystery and intrigue surrounding what the RCMP did and didn’t do that night. In recent weeks the Mass Casualty Commission has released thousands of pages of documents detailing the fear, horror and shock of those closely connected to the events which left 22 people dead over a 13.5-hour period. 

The collective media, largely absent from the battlefield over the past 22 months, has been revived from the dead, lapping up every emotional twist and turn that has been spoon fed to them by the commission. Stories that were told long ago were reborn as “scoops.” Deranged denturist Gabriel Wortman was, once again, every journalist’s favorite pinata, as if the public hadn’t figured out by now that he was a mad man with a troubled past. But in the flood of blood, gore and emotion, it’s easy to miss important nuggets hidden here and there, many of which require time, patience and perhaps a few citizen investigators to see. 

All of which brings us to those inexplicable and incongruous 12 minutes, which began at about 10:28 p.m. on April 18, 2020. A few minutes earlier, Andrew MacDonald had noticed a fire to the south of his cottage at the intersection of Portapique Beach Road and Orchard Beach Drive. He and his wife, Kate, got into a vehicle and went to track down the source of the fire, driving down Orchard Beach Drive. Around a bend in the road about 100 metres way, they came across what appeared to be a marked RCMP vehicle sitting in the driveway of Frankand Dawn Gulenchyn’s house. There was a fire in the kitchen area. MacDonald was on the phone with 911. His call began at 10:26. He told the operator that there was a fire and that an RCMP cruiser was already there. MacDonald had no way of knowing that the Gulenchyns were both lying dead in their burning house. 

What MacDonald also didn’t know was that the 911 operators had already fielded two dramatic calls from the next two houses farther down the road. The Blair house was 200 or so metres away and the McCully house was just beyond that. At 10:01 p.m. Jamie Blair had called to say her husband Greg had been murdered by their neighbour Wortman, who was dressed as a Mountie and driving a marked police car. As she spoke, Wortman came back into their house and killed her. At 10:16 p.m., Blair’s 12-year-old son called 911 from the basement of next-door neighbour Lisa McCully’s house. Dealing with a feckless 911 operator (listen to the tape, if you wish) the Blair child explained how his parents had been murdered and that Lisa McCully had gone outside and not come back. Meanwhile, the boy said, his 10-year-old brother and McCully’s 10-year-old son had ventured outside and could not be located. As I had reported earlier, they believed Wortman was circling around the neighbourhood in the car. 

Back to MacDonald in his vehicle. He turned around and was approaching the Gulenchyn’s house when Wortman pulled out of the driveway and came up alongside his vehicle. Wortman opened fire, grazing MacDonald, who took off north on Orchard Beach Drive. The time was just short of 10:28 p.m. 

The 12 minutes 

Near the intersection of Portapique Beach Road, MacDonald came across RCMP Constable Stuart Beselt who had just arrived in the neighbourhood and was awaiting backup before venturing in. It was 10:28:24 p.m. While all this was transpiring, Corrie Ellison made a fateful decision. He and his brother, Clinton, had been visiting their father Richard at his place, several hundred metres south of Wortman’s warehouse property at 136 Orchard Beach Drive, directly across the road from McCully’s house. Corrie walked up the gravel road in the dark to investigate the source of the fire he could see blazing to the north. 

At 10:39.26 p.m., Ellison took a photo of Wortman’s burning warehouse. He took another photo 13 seconds later. Seventeen seconds after that, at 10:39.50 p.m., Beselt reports hearing a flurry of gun shots. Constable Aaron Patton hears two more, 19 seconds later. Three seconds after Patton reports hearing shots, Corrie Ellison took a final photo which captures nothing but darkness. It’s 10:40:12 p.m. That’s the 12 minutes. From roughly 10:28 p.m. to 10:40 p.m. 

Witnesses must be cross-examined 

In the shifting timelines and explanations from the RCMP over the past 23 months, this hard and fast timeline appears to contradict or challenge both the RCMP’s “official” timeline and sequence of events. The first and most obvious question involves the actions of the first officers to arrive on the scene. Beselt and Patton said that after they met Andrew MacDonald at the top of Portapique Beach Road, they headed down Portapique Beach Road toward Wortman’s Cottage at Number 200. MacDonald had been shot at on Orchard Beach Drive which runs parallel to Portapique Beach Road after the two roads intersect about 300 metres south of Highway 2. 

Why did they not go down Orchard Beach Drive? 

That’s where, we’re told, the first 911 calls originated from both Jamie Blair and her son. That’s where MacDonald was shot. That’s where Wortman had escaped to the south. What made the police officers head out on foot in the dark toward Wortman’s cottage, which was 600 metres south of the intersection with Orchard Beach Drive. They seemed to hone in on Wortman even though the RCMP denied knowing at the outset that Wortman was the perpetrator. Once they were there, they said they went to investigate another fire to the south. That appears to have been a fire at 293 Portapique Beach Road, the house where John Zahl and Elizabeth (Jo) Thomas were murdered and immolated. 

Then the Mounties said they found a path, which is just north of the Zahl house and followed it through the woods to Wortman’s warehouse fire. I’ve been on that path a number of times on foot and in a car. It’s a long and windy road, perhaps 400 to 500 metres. By 10:49 p.m. the Mounties not only made their way up the path to the burning warehouse but onto Orchard Beach Drive where they find the bodies of Corrie Ellison and Lisa McCully. Corrie Ellison likely died at 10:40 or so. Lisa McCully was killed before the children called 911 at 10:16 p.m. Therein lies a huge problem with this version of events. 

While Beselt in all likely did what they said they did, it seems incomprehensible that the Mounties ignored the 911 calls from Jamie Blair and her child afterward and went down Portapique Beach Road. Experience and logic would suggest that the Mounties had every reason to go down Orchard Beach Drive first or, at the very least, at the same time as the foray down the parallel road. If that were the case, who would those Mounties have been. Over the past 23 months the RCMP has been exceptionally tight-lipped about who were the first to arrive on the scene. Until now, the force has not discussed who did what. 

In previous stories over the past 23 months, I’ve identified other Mounties as having been on scene early, including Corporal Natasha Jamieson and Constable Jordan Carroll, the son of Staff-Sgt. Al Carroll who was one of the original incident commanders barking orders. I had previously identified Jamieson as an original officer in charge who appeared to have had a breakdown at the scene and had hidden in the woods at one point. Now the RCMP says Jamieson and Jordan Carroll got to Portapique later than I had reported. This might be true but there is room for doubt about that timeline.  

We know that the RCMP has lied about many things in this matter and has destroyed or manipulated evidence. In the fall of 2020 Frank published a four-page RCMP memorandum dated October 15, 2020: MD-218 – Moratorium on the Destruction of information involving Gabriel Wortman pertaining to the investigation of the mass shooting in Nova Scotia …” 

What was being destroyed and manipulated?  

Could it have to do with who was first at the scene and what they did? Enter Clinton Ellison, the brother of Corrie Ellison. When he couldn’t reach his brother on his cell phone, he headed up Orchard Beach Road to look for him. He found him dead and then saw someone with flashlights coming after him. He thought it was Wortman, but it was likely the police. It appears that he found the body just before the Mounties did. Ellison retreated down the road several hundred metres and then hid in the bush. He called his father, Richard, who called 911 at 10:59 p.m. The MCC provided forensic ballistics results for the bullets that killed Ellison and McCully, but they were inconclusive about the weapon used to fire the 40-millimetre slugs. 

The forensic report on Ellison said that he appeared to have been leaning in the window of a car when he was shot based upon the downward trajectory of the bullet through his body. That’s certainly plausible but there is considerable room for reasonable doubt especially since we know the RCMP was destroying evidence and credible sources describe the alteration of evidence by the RCMP. That’s why unfettered cross-examination of witnesses at the inquiry is vital. Having questions submitted in advance to the MCC and posed by MCC counsel, eliminating the possibility of follow-ups doesn’t work. If the commission is sincere in its quest to uncover the truth, witnesses cannot be allowed to spew out whatever they want, unchallenged.  

Blueberry field road 

If Wortman shot at MacDonald at 10:28 p.m., what was he doing for the next 12 minutes before he shot and killed Ellison at 10:40 p.m., perhaps 300 metres to the south? The RCMP has suggested that he used the path through his property to drive around the neighbourhood, but that path only connected his warehouse to the southern end of Portapique Beach Road. Wortman could not use that path to get to Cobequid Court at the southern end of Orchard Beach Drive where he killed Aaron Tuck, Jolene Oliver and Emily Tuck and then their next-door neighbours Peter and Joy Bond. The only way to get to their houses was along Orchard Beach Drive.  

That’s where the 12-minutes creates another problem for the official storyline. The RCMP has indicated that Wortman killed the Tucks and Bonds last in the Portapique portion of his two-day spree and that he escaped the area using a path beside a blueberry field, which can be accessed from the east end of Cobequid Court. The RCMP said he made his escape at 10:45 p.m. connecting to Brown Loop and then Highway 2. They say Wortman was caught on camera at the Wilsons Gas Stop in Great Village at 10:51 p.m. The problem there is the time stamp was almost one hour off and may not be reliable. 

If Wortman killed Corrie Ellison at 10:40 p.m., it would have taken him at least two minutes to get to Cobequid Court. He would then have to murder three people, get back into this car, drive over to the Bond house, kill them, drive over to the blueberry field and drive the rutty path for three or four minutes to get to Brown Loop. On that day, Brown Loop was muddy, rocky and difficult to pass through in a car like the one he was driving. The RCMP suggests he did this all at warp speed and got out by 10:45 p.m. Not likely. In the MCC report mention is made of the Zimmerman family having seen a vehicle pass through the blueberry field between 10:33 and 10:45 p.m. I’ve seen their house from the vantage point of the blueberry field. It would be all but impossible to make out anything, and their timeline is problematic considering all that we have just discussed. 

Then there is the evidence of Dean Dillman, who said he was at Brown Loop around 10:45 to 10:58 and that he didn’t see anyone come up from the blueberry path. The suggestion is that Wortman must have gone by earlier. What Dillman actually said was that he was guessing at the time. He said his mother, Autumn Doucette, knew the actual time he was at the mouth of the blueberry field path. I had talked to Doucette more than a year ago and had seen her phone records, which she had shared with the MCC. In a recent interview, she described once again what had actually transpired: Dean had gone to Portapique Beach to see what was going on that night. He went down Brown Loop and had talked to her at 10:38 p.m. about him being there and that he had seen no one come up the field then or before he left at 10:58 p.m. 

What does this all mean? 

The RCMP has a credibility problem. It and the MCC have been playing hide-the-pea for almost two years. Nothing is ever straightforward. Of all the 22 murders, the strangest one is that of Corrie Ellison. It doesn’t fit the pattern or time frame. It took almost a year and a half after the event for the RCMP to state publicly that officers first found Ellison’s body at 10:49 p.m. But they didn’t do anything about it. At 1:50 a.m. officers at the scene stumbled onto Ellison’s body again and noted that he had been shot in the head. “It’s a 40-calibre Smith and Wesson.” They left the body there. Shortly after 3 a.m. other Mounties found the body and marked its location with GPS. They left it there under a tarp until well into the next day. 

If Wortman killed Ellison at 10:40 p.m., then how did he manage to drive a couple of kilometres through the neighhbourhood, kill five more people in two different locations and drive a couple of more kilometres up a muddy path and escape in just five minutes? It just doesn’t make sense. If Wortman shot at MacDonald at 10:28, went down the road and killed the Tucks and the Bonds he had plenty of time to get away, but not through the blueberry patch path. He likely drove right up the road past the Mountie positions. That makes sense. But then, that brings us back to last summer, when Frank first reported Clinton Ellison’s disturbing question: “Did the RCMP kill my brother?” 

Moratorium on the Destruction of Evidence

The document first was sent anonymously to Little Grey Cells, a You Tube Channel, which operates out of Alberta. The show’s host, Seamus Gorman, has been discussing it for the past few days in his broadcasts as part of a group called The Discord. It is comprised of 380 citizen investigators who have banded together since the massacre to dig up information. The timing and wording of the RCMP memorandum strongly suggests that the RCMP has been destroying documents and data in the case. Since May multiple anonymous sources close to the investigation have suggested the RCMP was destroying or altering paper and electronic evidence. This has previously been reported in the Halifax Examiner and on the Halifax talk show hosted by Rick Howe. The RCMP has not commented on the allegations to date.

The order commands the RCMP to collect, protect and retain every kind of evidence in the case, including paper documents, electronic data, 911 calls and radio communications. To date the RCMP has resisted releasing any information or answer any questions about what it did and didn’t do before, during and after the shootings on April 18 and 19. In the new documents the RCMP is ordered to collect and retain “all records, documents, and information pertaining to communications and dealings with Gabriel Wortman, and all occurrences linked or related to Gabriel Wortman, including intelligence reports, citizen reports, calls for service and occurrence reports.”

The RCMP has been told to collect and retain “all occurrence reports, briefing notes, SITreps, taskings and regular members’ notes of the incidents, including notes or regular members who responded from “H” Division,” which is Nova Scotia. The directive makes it clear that a focus of the investigation is the murder by Wortman of Constable Heidi Stevenson and the shooting of Constable Chad Morrison near Shubenacadie on April 19. Although Wortman had already killed 19 people before he got to Shubenacadie that Sunday morning, Stevenson and Morrison were travelling alone in their marked cruisers when they each came upon Wortman. The protection order applies to “All medical, employment and training files of Cst. Heidi Stevenson, Cst. Chad Morrison and other individuals injured or involved.” In the past there have been unproven allegations that Stevenson had some sort of conflict with a superior in her previous post at Cole Harbour and had been transferred to Endfield, north of Halifax Airport, shortly before her death.

After the shooting of three Mounties in Moncton on June 4, 2014, a Canada Labour Code investigation found the RCMP liable and a judge later fined the force $540,000. Among other things, the RCMP was blamed for its lax supervision, poor communications and inadequate training and equipment. The murdered officers were virtual sitting ducks for killer Justin Bourque who was armed with a high-powered rifle. Prior to the shootings the RCMP had promised to upgrade weaponry for police but did not. After the fine was issued, the force provided Colt C-8 rifles, an upgrade to the AR-15 semi-automatic, to its patrol officers. In recent months a current RCMP member has been quoted on numerous occasions in the Halifax Examiner and elsewhere as saying that the RCMP was attempting to “pasteurize” the evidence in the case. The member said there are ways the force can alter electronic files and data or even make it disappear.” 

Another current member said in an interview that the biggest problem from a public interest point of view is that the RCMP data management system, known by its acronym PROs, can be manipulated by senior officers. “There has never been an audit conducted on the integrity of data in the PROs system,” the ranking officer said. “The force has had six months to play with the evidence. Now, these investigators aren’t going to take ‘the dog ate my homework’ for an answer. They will demand answers to their questions.” A third former RCMP officer who is familiar with the current inner workings of the force said this in an interview: “This is the nightmare for the force that I’ve been expecting. They have been doing everything they can to hide information. They have likely trying to scrub the data base to get rid of anything incriminating.”

Among the issues that are potentially embarrassing for the force include:

• The chain of command that weekend. Did the RCMP follow its rules and procedures manual?

• The lack of a public alert. Who made that decision? Why?

• The fact that only a handful of Mounties were assigned to the original crime scene? There are almost 1,000 RCMP officers in the province in various capacities. Were they called out? If not, why not? If so, how many refused to attend?

• Why were nearby municipal police forces in Truro, Amherst and Halifax, among others, not called in for assistance or adequately warned about the dangers;

• Why did the RCMP call for help from the New Brunswick RCMP when it had clearly not exhausted all its resources in Nova Scotia?

• Why the RCMP did not employ a helicopter in its search and containment efforts?;

• The possible relationship between Wortman and the RCMP or other police forces associated with the RCMP? In other words, was he or anyone in his circle a confidential informant, police agent or auxillary police?

 All these questions and more are being asked as part of the Labour Code Investigation. The RCMP has appointed Erika Lathem in the Criminal Operations office at the force’s Nova Scotia headquarters as co-ordinator for all information.



The lies and deceptions employed by the RCMP and its government enablers are unravelling thread by thread. Mountie Commissioner Brenda Lucki — who sucked up for the job by promising to be politically flexible for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau — has now been hoisted on her own petard, her political flexibility there for all to see. Meanwhile, the Mass Casualty Commission “investigating” what happened before, during and after 22 Nova Scotians were murdered over a 13.5-hour rampage in April of 2020 erratically lurches along, desperately trying to hold its promised course.

You know it’s running out of gas when Nick Beaton and his mother Bev got so fed up with the testimony of Mountie Constable Wayne (Skipper) Bent yesterday (June 21) that they started yelling at him and calling him a liar, destroying the sleep-inducing quietude that is surely part of the inquiry’s ultimate design. “That’s enough,” commission chairman Michael MacDonald said. “Whaddya gonna do about it?” Beaton barked back. “No, this is enough, this whole bullshit fucking show is enough,” Beaton said finally, as he walked out of the room.

The families and more and more of the public are finally on to the Commission’s game plan, namely, to overwhelm everyone with a blizzard of documents and convoluted evidence in the hope that only a portion of the important stuff will get recognized for what it might be. In the end they are no doubt happy that the issue of political interference from Ottawa — Trudeau, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair and Lucki and the gang — was more palatable than the other thing that was going on at the same time. Just a day earlier, the commission had finally released the video tapes from the Enfield Big Stop where Wortman was shot and killed by a pair of Mounties on the morning of April 19, 2020.

If you haven’t noticed an established pattern here, you haven’t been paying attention to how the RCMP and the government deal with potentially dangerous revelations. It goes something like this. When a bad story is about to land, the tactic is to delay, like the Mass Casualty Commission did for more than a week after agreeing to release the video tapes. Once the story is out, the next tactic is to turn any story into a one-day wonder, lost in the whirlwind of a perceived bigger story, which is what happened here. The Commission deposited a juicy document on its website that essentially sacrificed the Commissioner of the RCMP who for weeks now has been rumoured to be retiring at the end of the month, anyway.

Voila! The importance of the gas station videos is allowed to disappear into the man-made fog as the media and the public chase another shiny object. But we are not so easily distracted. Please allow us to revisit the saga of the videos once again, for the last time (Probably!-ed.)

The videos 

On April 13, two Mounties not so much testified but rather told a story about what happened that Sunday morning which lead them to arrive at the Enfield Big Stop in the filling bay next to where demented denturist Gabriel Wortman was sitting in the grey, Mazda 3 that he had stolen from his 22nd and last victim, Gina Goulet. Dog handler, Const. Craig Hubley and ERT member Const. Ben MacLeod said they happened upon Wortman. They told the story that was essentially the same one that has been floating around the Nova Scotia rumour mill at least since the afternoon of April 19, 2020.

Hubley said he had a half-tank of gas when he inexplicably pulled into the Big Stop to fill up. “I saw that there was a small grey car parked on the other side of the pump,” he wrote in a statement. “I didn’t notice anyone in the car.” 

“I looked around the pump at the car and saw a man sitting in the driver’s seat,” wrote Hubley. “The passenger side window was up. He was wearing a white tee shirt. I had a profile view of him as he looked straight ahead and he didn’t seem to notice me. He had a large hematoma on the side of his forehead and there was a small trickle of blood running down his forehead. I thought it odd that this person hadn’t addressed the wound or tried to stop the bleeding. The look on his face was one of someone who had just been in a fight. He was breathing heavy with his mouth open and he was worked up. His appearance, injury, and demeanor were outside of what I would expect from a person at a gas station. This caused me to pay closer attention and I recognized him from the pictures I had seen in the command post. I recognized that it was GW and was certain it was him.” 

Portapique Files – Gas Station Footage

There is a lot going on in the interaction between Hubley and Wortman, before Hubley alerted his partner, who immediately got out of the vehicle and went around to the front of it. Wortman then reached for an RCMP handgun that he had stolen from Heidi Stevenson and was raising the gun when the two Mounties opened fire on him through the passenger side window and front windshield. Hubley fired 12 shots, while MacLeod took 11. This version of events was first rubber-stamped by Felix Cacchione, then director of the Serious Incident Response Team, Nova Scotia’s police watchdog. In his official report issued in December of 2020, Cacchione agreed with the Mounties’ version of events and exonerated them of any wrongdoing.

It was a riveting heroic tale, except for one thing: in June 2021, a source codenamed True Blue provided Frank Magazine with snippets of video from the Big Stop which told a somewhat different story. From what we could see, much of what Hubley and MacLeod said happened, except for all the shooting, didn’t happen. Oddly enough, another video provided by True Blue, shot minutes earlier at the Petrocan station in nearby Elmsdale, seemed to capture what Hubley and MacLeod had described. The Mass Casualty Commission decided to withhold the release of the videos, hiding behind its mandate of being “trauma-informed.” Even if the videos didn’t show a man being shot by police, they did show police shooting into a car which the commission decided would be just too traumatizing for the least fragile among us to safely absorb. For whatever reason, no one on the Commission has the foresight to tell those people to simply not view the images.

Enter Frank editor Andrew Douglas. 

While the mainstream media seemed content to merely transcribe what Hubley, MacLeod and the Commission dictated, Douglas could see no reason why the security videos were not being released. Douglas contacted the magazine’s legal counsel, David Hutt, from Burchells LLP, and invested some of the tiny company (Coltsfoot Publishing Ltd.)’s untold riches and instructed Hutt to apply to the Commission to have all the security videos released to the public. Soon that application was supported by the CBC, CTV, Global News and The Canadian Press. For whatever reason, no mainstream print media or alternative media joined in on the application.

Hutt made a number of arguments and recommendations about how the Commission should organize its material and deal with similar applications in the future. The Commission set aside three hours on June 13 to hear the matter, but days before it was to be heard federal government lawyers who were originally opposed to the action, dropped their objections. It looked like clear sailing, but we all suspected that something devious was afoot. We came to learn long ago that that’s the nature of the beast. June 13 came and went. No videotapes were released. We strongly sensed that the RCMP, and the Commission were in a box. We believed the tapes would at the very least tell such a different story than the official narrative that Hubley and MacLeod would have to be recalled and, perhaps, be joined by the now-retired Cacchione.

Finally, on June 20 the Commission announced its decision, which Frank’s lawyer Hutt found astounding. “Infuriating,” even. “The decision is defensive from the start, pre-emptively justifying each step taken by the commission or its counsel regarding the videos,” Hutt wrote to Douglas. “They say their mandate – to ‘be guided by restorative principles in order to do no further harm,’ and ‘be attentive to the needs of and impacts on those most directly affected and harmed’ – is an ‘important public interest’ put at risk by publication of the videos. But this broad argument could justify suppressing ANY exhibit from the killing spree.”

Hutt also pointed out that the commission made “No reference to the shambolic state of commission exhibits, or the mixed information about their availability (most recently exemplified by their June 17th update, contradicting their counsel, saying the videos had been displayed!). This state of confusion just creates more apparent secrecy. They are still not agreeing to make suppression decisions in public. Decisions will be made behind closed doors, without evidence, leaving the onus on media or participants to challenge after the fact.” 

With the videotapes posted on the Commission’s website, we watched to see how the mainstream media would choose to navigate this latest development. The first thing we noticed was that even though the Commission was supposed to release all the video tapes, some were extremely truncated. Sections were missing. Wortman’s Mazda and Hubley’s Chev Suburban suddenly show up at the adjacent pumps as if plopped out of the sky. The Commission said there were technical issues with some of the cameras. 

But the images from one camera — positioned over Pump 6 at the Enfield Big Stop – married with the images from the others appeared to tell a conclusive, unadulterated story about the final seconds of Gabriel Wortman’s life. He was sitting in the driver’s seat of the grey Mazda 3 sedan at Pump 5. He had been sitting there for 26 seconds or so. A tan Chevrolet Suburban pulls into Pump 6. It’s wide of the pumps and not lined up with the gas tank. The vehicle stops. The driver, Constable Craig Hubley, gets out while at the same time reaching for his sidearm. He immediately takes a firing position and unloads at Wortman through the passenger side window of the Mazda 3 in which Wortman was sitting. Ben MacLeod exits the passenger side, comes around to the front of the vehicle and starts shooting. Total elapsed time between the car stopping and the first bullets being fired: between 5 and 6 seconds.

The videos raise obvious apparent inconsistencies in the official narrative. Much of what Hubley and MacLeod said happened, clearly didn’t happen and it certainly didn’t all happen within 5 or 6 seconds.

So how did the mainstream media handle this?

The television stations ran some of the video but didn’t bother to contrast the testimony of Hubley and MacLeod and the findings by Cacchione with what the videotape showed. They didn’t comment on the obvious anomalies in the videos. The CTV report was so poor that the reporter even had the police vehicle already at the gas pumps when Wortman arrived. The print media and most of the television stations relied on a single report by The Canadian Press to describe what happened, a story which also did not dare challenge the official narrative. A small but telling point in all the coverage was that all the mainstream media – these paragons of virtue, ethics and accuracy – failed to report that it was Frank Magazine’s initiative and dollars that provoked the release of the tapes.

Although it appears that the images on the security tapes clearly refute what Hubley, MacLeod and Cacchione say happened, lawyer and blogger Adam Rodgers who has been closely following the case says they might be interpreted otherwise. “The pump six video shows actions consistent with Constable Hubley’s witness account,” Rodgers says. “He pulled ahead at the gas pump more than you would probably do if you were planning to get the jump on the person in the adjacent vehicle. As he got out of his vehicle on the driver side, he took a second to look back inside the vehicle as he reached for his gun, then waited another moment before shooting. It has the appearance of a focused, athletic movement. 

“On the pump five video just before the officers opened fire, it appears that Wortman gets a shot away at himself. The car shakes just before the officers opened fire, and the movement of the car seems to be more than you would expect from somebody simply shifting their weight in the driver’s seat. “There are still questions about the approach to the pump, and reports have stated that other pumps were available before the pump adjacent to that which Wortman was using. As well, the simple fact that the videos were withheld continues to foster suspicion. Const. Hubley also testified that his tank was just under half full, which makes it seem early to be filling up in an otherwise urgent situation.” 

But even Rodgers has lingering questions about the Mountie’s version of events. While it might appear that the Mounties knew Wortman was there, a court would require a solid piece of evidence, such as a text or radio message, to prove that point. “So, the decision to stop for gas at all seems suspect, if indeed the tank was just below half full,” Rodgers added. “The decision to go to pump 6 is also suspicious, if the other pumps were available and not covered by orange bags. He definitely did not reach for the pump. His attention was focused immediately on the person in the car. I would suggest that his observation time was extremely short, but not implausible. 

“His articulation of what he was thinking at that time may seem too in-depth, considering how short the timeframe had been. It seemed to me like how as a pitcher I would occasionally have to react to a line drive hit back at me. There is far less than a second to react to put your glove up and catch or deflect the ball, but when you think back on it, you can describe the way the ball came off the bat and what you did. It would be an elite recognition and reaction, but in my mind possible under the circumstances.” Wherever the truth might lie, one can remain fairly confident that it won’t be uncovered by an industrious, curious and skeptical mainstream media who have long since had those instincts bred from their collective bloodlines.

At the same time Canadian trust in journalists has continued to fade, the mainstream media can’t seem to grasp the problem. It’s a multi-pronged issue involving politicization, corporatization and the imposition of such rigid formatting that there is little room for journalism done outside the established lines. The reporters and editors who have covered the Nova Scotia massacres and what we’ve taken to calling the Spinquiry are slaves to documents and official sources. Those are their only potential sources of truth, and anything to the contrary is anathema, as it doesn’t fit into their codified world of journalistic standards and practices. If something isn’t written down or spoken in a public forum, it doesn’t count. Governments, businesses, the police and the craftiest among us know that and use it to their advantage to deflect our collective attention away from what matters most.

Paul Palango is author of the best selling book 22 Murders: Investigating the massacres, cover-up and obstacles to justice in Nova Scotia (Random House).

The Eagle’s Nest – Part 1

Dispersing the Fog: Inside the Secret World of Ottawa and the RCMP

The Last Guardians: The Crisis in the RCMP

Above The Law: The Crooks, the Politicians, the Mounties, and Rod Stamler

22 Murders

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