Nova Scotia shooting: 16 dead in Canada rampage

Police identified the gunman as Gabriel Wortman, 51, who had been on the run since Saturday night

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A gunman killed at least 16 people in a shooting rampage across rural Nova Scotia in eastern Canada, before his body was found after an hours-long manhunt.

Police identified the gunman as Gabriel Wortman, 51, who had been on the run since Saturday night, before he was killed after a confrontation with local police 92 kilometres away from the crime scene.

Police were alerted to shots being fired in the small community of Portapique, about 100 kilometres from Halifax, capital of the Atlantic province.

Several victims were discovered outside and inside a house in the town, as police launched a manhunt across the province for the suspect.

The dead included a female officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, while a second officer was injured.

"The search for the suspect ended this morning," RCMP Chief Superintendent Chris Leather said. "And I can confirm that he is deceased."

Police have not offered a motive for the attack. "What has unfolded overnight and into this morning is incomprehensible and many families are experiencing the loss of a loved one," Nova Scotia RCMP Commanding Officer, Assistant Commissioner Lee Bergerman, wrote on the force's Facebook page.

"That includes our own RCMP family. It is with tremendous sadness that I share with you that we lost Constable Heidi Stevenson, a 23-year veteran of the force who was killed while responding to an active shooter incident."

In addition to Stevenson, who was a mother of two, a male officer was injured and is in hospital with non-life threatening injuries, Mr Bergerman said.

The National Post newspaper said another victim was an elementary school teacher, citing a Facebook post from the woman's sister.

Police said that at one point, the suspect appeared to be wearing part of a police uniform and was driving a vehicle that resembled an RCMP patrol vehicle.

The force tweeted several times that he was not an officer and warned he was considered "armed and dangerous".

"The initial search for the suspect led to multiple sites in the area, including structures that were on fire," Mr Leather told the news conference.

Another police representative said, without giving details, that the gunman was killed after an officer intervened at Enfield, near Halifax.

An independent agency, the Serious Incident Response Team (SiRT), which looks into certain incidents involving the province's police, said that it was "investigating the shooting of a male in Enfield by RCMP officers."

SiRT said in a statement that a confrontation had occurred, "resulting in officers discharging their firearms. The suspect was found to be deceased at the scene."

Police said they had no indication of a motive. RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki told local media there was no indication "at this point" of terrorist intent.

"What I would say is that it appears to be at least in part, very random in nature," Mr Leather said.

"We are in the early stages of an incredibly detailed and complex investigation that has forever changed countless lives," he said.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said in a statement that he "was saddened to learn about the senseless violence in Nova Scotia," and he hoped for a full recovery of the wounded.

The National Post quoted Tom Taggart, a councillor who represents Portapique in the municipality of Colchester, as saying the community was "devastated".

He described it as a "subdivision in the woods where people have acre lots along the shore," and where Wortman owned three properties.

"It's absolutely unbelievable this could happen in our community. I never dreamt this would happen here," Taggart said.

Despite a relatively high percentage of gun ownership in Canada, mass shootings are rare with only a couple of incidents a year.

In January, one person was killed and three were seriously injured after a shooting in Ottawa.

In July 2019, three people were killed, not including the two killers who, were later found dead after a nationwide manhunt.