As front-line officers frantically tried to track down the man on a shooting rampage in rural Nova Scotia last weekend, investigators behind the scenes were trying to figure out who the gunman was aiming for next.
RCMP say they did not find an actual hit list of potential targets, but after interviewing the longtime girlfriend of their suspect, they started reaching out to people, including family members.
“We were contacting individuals who we believed could have been on a list or were potentially at risk … We were bringing them to safety and we were interviewing them at that time,” RCMP Supt. Darren Campbell during a briefing Friday morning.
Police did not say where these people were located or whether they were related to the girlfriend or gunman. Some homes in Portapique, N.S., were evacuated overnight as police tried to secure the area.
A household in Glenholme, N.S., appeared to have narrowly missed being a target.
The gunman banged on the door of a home on Highway 4, waking up the people inside.
Campbell said they recognized him and called 911. They passed along his name and also that he was driving a cruiser and carrying a long gun.
“They did not answer the door. And the gunman left,” said Campbell.
From there, the shooter drove to Wentworth where he encountered Lillian Hyslop, who was out walking. He shot her dead on the roadside.
To piece together all the links and better understand the shooter’s history, investigators are interviewing people who had dealings with him over the years.
“There seems to be a trail of individuals who had had problems with [him],” Campbell said. “So naturally we would be talking to those individuals. We would want to understand the essence or the origins of those problems and what they might have known about him.”
Some of the gunman’s 22 victims appear to have been random — people he encountered as he was driving around.
Others he did know. Thirteen of them lived or had family near his properties in Portapique.
Like the shooter, Gina Goulet was a denturist. However, police have not said anything about the nature of their relationship or whether they had any professional dealings.
Alanna Jenkins and Sean McLeod, who lived on Hunter Road in Wentworth, also had a connection to the gunman, Campbell confirmed Friday. But he said, though they knew him, it’s still not clear why exactly he went to their home Sunday morning.
He killed the couple, who both worked for Corrections Canada, and their neighbour, Tom Bagley, who other neighbours found dead near their burning home.
“It’s very, very likely that maybe they were also people that he might have had an issue with. But again I don’t want to speculate, but to me, that seems to stand out,” said Campbell.
If you are seeking mental health support during this time, here are resources available to Nova Scotians.
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