Spouse of N.S. mass shooter shows how deadly rampage began in video re-enactment

·3 min read
The gunman's partner Lisa Banfield, left, stands with a Nova Scotia RCMP investigator near the remains of the gunman's warehouse in Portapique, N.S., in October 2020, during a re-enactment of the events that took place months earlier on April 18, 2020.  (Mass Casualty Commission - image credit)
The gunman's partner Lisa Banfield, left, stands with a Nova Scotia RCMP investigator near the remains of the gunman's warehouse in Portapique, N.S., in October 2020, during a re-enactment of the events that took place months earlier on April 18, 2020. (Mass Casualty Commission - image credit)

Warning: details are disturbing.

New videos show the long-time partner of the Nova Scotia mass shooter re-enacting what she saw and experienced the night the rampage began two years ago.

The Mass Casualty Commission leading the inquiry into what happened on April 18 and 19, 2020, when Gabriel Wortman attacked his partner Lisa Banfield and went on to kill 22 people while driving a mock RCMP car, released new documents and images Wednesday.

Among these are video re-enactments from October 2020, when Banfield took an RCMP investigator through what she remembers happened in Portapique.

Banfield said the night began with the couple celebrating their 19th anniversary and having drinks at the gunman's large garage next to his cottage. They were video chatting with friends in the United States and talking about how they planned to hold a commitment ceremony the next year. That's when their friend Angel Patterson said, "Don't do it." That upset Banfield and she left the garage.

Halfway up the path to the cottage, Banfield said she decided to turn around and apologize to Wortman, but when she arrived he was already "irate." She told the commission she couldn't calm him down, and went back to the cottage and into bed.

What seemed like minutes later, Banfield said the gunman pulled the covers off the bed and assaulted her, kicking her into the bedpost. He then pulled her through the cottage which she noticed was already doused in gasoline, and set the building on fire once they got outside.

She then told police about the gunman leading her through the woods to the garage.

Once at the garage, the gunman started dousing the vehicles outside with gas. He dragged Banfield into the garage, and handcuffed her left hand.

But when he demanded her right hand, Banfield said she held it back.

When she was in the back seat of the mock RCMP cruiser behind the plexiglass partition, Banfield said the gunman loaded several firearms into the front of the vehicle.

He then went up to the loft apartment in the garage, and she tried to kick out the back seat windows with no success.

She managed to slip the handcuff off her left hand and was able to slide open a window in the divider and dive into the front seat. She ran from the garage, not taking any of the guns in the cruiser —  something she told police she has replayed over in her head.

After running from the garage, Banfield tried to hide in one of his trucks but was worried he would set it on fire, and fled into the woods.

Banfield told police how she spent the next few hours alone, hearing gunshots and terrified the gunman would find her.

While Banfield was in hiding, the gunman killed 13 people within the small community.

She remained hidden inside a fallen tree overnight as temperatures dipped close to zero degrees, inquiry documents said.

Banfield said she thought if she could survive until dawn, she could then venture out for help.

After first light, she walked to a neighbour who called police just before 6:30 a.m. on April 19. Members of the RCMP's emergency response team picked her up in an armoured vehicle a few minutes later.

Medical records released through the inquiry show Banfield spent five nights in hospital after suffering a fractured rib and vertebrae, as well as extensive bruising and scrapes from the night of April 18.

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