PORTAPIQUE, N.S. — Staff members of a public inquiry investigating Nova Scotia's mass shooting took a walk today along the roads where the rampage began the night of April 18, 2020.
The group visiting Portapique, N.S., included members of the investigations, legal, research and community engagement teams with the Mass Casualty Commission.
The deadly journey of the shooter driving a replica RCMP vehicle and wearing a police uniform began in Portapique, a coastal community about 40 kilometres west of Truro, N.S., where 13 people were murdered before the killer managed to escape by a road flanked by blueberry fields.
He overnighted in an industrial park and carried on to other Nova Scotia communities early the next day, with nine more people murdered before the 51-year-old denturist was shot dead by police at a gas station 13 hours after the first call to police.
The staff visit today was aimed at understanding the geography of the Portapique area where the killings occurred and where some survivors hid or fled through wooded areas as the gunman burned residents' homes.
Lead investigator Barbara McLean says it was important for the team to get a strong sense of the layout of the scene to "understand the context and circumstances in which these tragedies happened."
"The purpose of a public inquiry is fact finding, which is understanding what happened, how it happened and then to have the commission put forth recommendations that, if adopted, enhance public safety in Nova Scotia," she said.
McLean says the team expected to return to the community again at night, to get a stronger sense of what it would have been like for people when it was dark and difficult to see.
The team didn't schedule meetings with community members but let the town know in advance they would be visiting and indicated they would be happy to speak to people if they were approached.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 4, 2021.
The Canadian Press