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How an RCMP officer escaped and survived after being shot by the N.S. gunman

Minutes after being shot by a man in what appeared to be a marked police cruiser, Const. Chad Morrison found himself alone and gripping his service rifle behind an empty ambulance depot.

The Nova Scotia RCMP officer knew the gunman was nearby and was worried he was still a target.  

Morrison’s harrowing encounter with the man responsible for killing 22 people in April is described in search warrant documents released by the courts Monday.

That morning, about 10 a.m. AT on April 19, Morrison and a colleague, Const. Heidi Stevenson, had responded to a request for officers from the East Hants detachment in Enfield to help out in Colchester County, where the manhunt was underway.

It was roughly 12 hours after RCMP were first alerted to shots fired and homes burning in Portapique, N.S., a village about 70 kilometres from Morrison’s location.

By close to 11 a.m., Morrison was pulled over, waiting for Stevenson near the Shubenacadie Wildlife Park, according to a summary of a statement he gave on April 21 to investigators. 

By that point, the man Mounties were frantically seeking was known to have killed numerous people at different rural locations. Morrison knew the gunman was masquerading as an officer.

const chad morrison
Const. Chad Morrison of the Nova Scotia RCMP. Morrison was injured by the gunman who killed 22 people between April 18 and 19. (RCMP Nova Scotia/Facebook)

But as he listened to his police radio, Morrison was confused about the shooter’s precise location, according to the court documents. He explained to investigators that, as best as he could tell, the gunman was still in Brookfield, N.S., about 20 kilometres away.

When he spotted the familiar shape of a white Ford Taurus with RCMP markings a few hundred metres away, he radioed to ask if other officers were in the area.

His anxiety lessened when Stevenson responded. Morrison pulled up to the T-intersection of Highway 2 and Highway 224 to talk to her, presuming that she was behind the wheel, according to his statement. 

The approaching cruiser wasn’t speeding and didn’t raise any alarms. Later, he would tell investigators that the only thing that was different was a black push bar attached to its front bumper.

nova scotia victims of mass shooting
The faces of the 22 victims. The shooting rampage unfolded over about 13 hours, before police shot and killed the gunman. (CBC)

As the vehicle came closer, it registered with Morrison that a man was driving. 

Within seconds, that man pulled out a silver handgun and started firing out his window. 

Later, Morrison said the gunman, Gabriel Wortman, had a “melancholy expression on his face” and a “grit” look as he raised his gun, according to the summary of his interview. 

There were three or four shots. Morrison was hit, though it’s not clear from the documents where or how many times. 

Still in the driver’s seat, the officer “floored it” and took off south along Highway 2 toward Milford, N.S, careening off a guard rail as he drove, the court documents said. 

He repeatedly hit the button to notify dispatch that he was in trouble and needed immediate assistance but wasn’t sure if the message went through.

WATCH | N.S. shooting suspect on camera shortly before he was caught:

Surveillance video shows the suspected gunman in the Nova Scotia mass shooting less than an hour before he was caught and killed by police. 1:53

When he arrived at a station used by paramedics, Morrison found it was empty. The court documents state he knew he could be a “sitting duck” and went behind the building with his rifle, radioing he was there and needed help.   

On his radio he heard another officer say, “Stevenson is down.” His statement said that he was close enough to Highway 14 that he could see black SUVs with roof lights on, rushing to the spot where his colleague was shot. Before long, an ambulance arrived that took him to hospital. 

Sgt. Angela Hawryluk, who summarized Morrison’s interview in an application to gain access to the shooter’s financial records, wrote that the body armour he wore protected him from a chest or abdomen wound. 

When he returned home from hospital April 21, Morrison had bandages on both arms. 

Stevenson, though she was also wearing soft and hard body armour, did not survive.

const heidi stevenson
Const. Heidi Stevenson died in the shooter’s rampage in April. (Nova Scotia RCMP/Twitter)


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