A veteran of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, a family of three, and an elementary school teacher were among at least 18 people killed this weekend in the worst mass shooting in modern Canadian history.
The shooter's 12-hour rampage began Saturday night in the quaint coastal village of Portapique in Nova Scotia and stretched almost 60 miles away to the suburbs of Halifax, where he died after being apprehended by police.
“This happened in small towns," Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during a Monday address. "Places where people have deep roots. Places where people know their neighbors and look out for each other."
The gunman was able to elude capture in part because he was traveling in a mock RCMP cruiser that “looked identical" to the real thing, RCMP Chief Superintendent Chris Leather said during a Monday press conference. The shooter was also wearing clothes that “were either actual uniforms or very good facsimiles” of RCMP uniforms.
The gunman had been obsessed with policing since high school, and he had indulged in buying police memorabilia and old police cruisers, according to the Globe and Mail.
“The fact that this individual had a uniform and a police car at his disposal certainly speaks to it not being a random act,” said Leather.
As of Monday, police were investigating 16 crime scenes scattered across the maritime province. In addition to shooting his victims, the gunman also set fire to several homes.
Among the first victims to be identified was Constable Heidi Stevenson, a 23-year veteran of the RCMP and a mother of two young children.
"I met with Heidi's family, and there are no words to describe their pain," Lee Bergerman, commanding officer for the RCMP in Nova Scotia, said during a press conference on Sunday. "Two children have lost their mother and a husband, his wife. Parents lost their daughter, and countless others lost an incredible friend and colleague."
Stevenson was killed while responding to the active shooter. The RCMP has declined to release any further details so far.
“She died protecting others,” Trudeau said Monday. “She was answering the call of duty — something she had done every day she went to work for 23 years.”
Also among the dead were Emily Tuck, a 17-year-old aspiring musician, and her parents, Jolene Oliver and Aaron Tuck.
Though details surrounding their deaths remain scarce, according to Tammy Oliver-McCurdie, Oliver's sister, their bodies were discovered in their home.
"I will miss you so much," wrote Oliver-McCurdie on Facebook. "I don't know who I will call to chat for hours, solve world problems, and laugh at crazy stuff."
On April 6, Oliver posted a video of her and Tuck enjoying one of the few silver linings of the coronavirus lockdown: more time together.
"Good evening, everybody. We're sitting at home like y'all should be, and we're going to rock this shit," Tuck says in the video with a big grin on his face. "Have a good time with your family. This is what it's all about. We'll never get this chance again."
Earlier during the lockdown, Tuck shared a video of his daughter, Emily, playing the fiddle.
The death of Lisa McCully, a mother of two and an elementary school teacher, was confirmed by her sister, Jenny Kierstead.
"This is so hard to write but many of you will want to know," Kierstead wrote on Facebook on Sunday. "Our hearts are broken today as we attempt to accept the loss of my sister, Lisa McCully, who was one of the victims of the mass shooting in Portapique last night."
Paul Wozney, the president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, also remembered McCully in a statement posted to Facebook on Sunday: “9,300 NSTU hearts are broken along with those of her colleagues and students at Debert Elementary, as well as her family and friends who knew her not only as a passionate teacher but as a shining love in their lives.”
"She was somebody who taught from the heart," Wozney told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. "She taught her kids not just the curriculum but teaching about virtues and personal qualities."
On Monday afternoon, Trudeau offered his condolences to the families of those killed and vowed to support them.
"Such a tragedy should never have occurred," said Trudeau. "We stand with you, and we grieve with you, and you can count on our government's full support during this incredibly painful time."