How or why the Mounties missed or ignored alarming information about the man who would kill 22 people in Nova Scotia on April 18 and 19 is an increasingly troubling question.
It’s also a frustrating question because the RCMP have no good explanation for it, or at least none that they will provide to the public.
Since the killings shocked the province and the nation, it’s been revealed that police had been alerted to domestic violence and weapons at the Portapique house owned by the killer, but apparently didn’t pursue those matters.
And last week, a bombshell 2011 bulletin issued by the Truro police surfaced. It warned other police forces across the province — the RCMP included — that the man had weapons and threatened “to kill a cop.”
In addition to the threat against police, the bulletin — obtained by CBC news through a freedom of information application — included detailed information about where the man stashed weapons at the Portapique address. Information in the bulletin was obtained from an unnamed source by Truro Police Cpl. Greg Densmore.
Tom Taggart, who lives near Portapique and represents the area on Colchester County council, told SaltWire’s Harry Sullivan that he’s lost faith in the RCMP’s leadership since the bulletin surfaced.
“I am extremely disappointed in that report that the RCMP were aware of the killer’s intentions or thought process nine years ago and did nothing. Absolutely disappointed,” the West Colchester councillor said. “How could that be?”
Halifax police took the bulletin seriously. They checked out the man’s Dartmouth residence and denture clinic but concluded that the information was pertinent to his Portapique house.
That put it squarely in the RCMP’S jurisdiction.
But the RCMP can’t find their copy of the bulletin — which they say would have been kept for two years and then destroyed — nor do they have any evidence that they acted on it. The lack of a report, or anything else, that catalogues how the Mounties addressed the threat is a strong indication that they didn’t address it at all.
Why that was, or how that could happen, is one of several nagging questions related to the mass killings, and those questions are adding urgency to mounting calls for a public inquiry.
It’s impossible to know if an RCMP intervention back in 2011 would have altered history and stopped the horrible events that occurred this spring, when, on the night of April 18 and through the morning of the 19th, the man murdered 22 innocent people, before the RCMP ended the rampage in Enfield where they shot and killed the killer.
Taggart and fellow county councillor Mike Gregory, a retired 25-year-plus veteran of the RCMP, are angry that the Mounties ignored, or somehow missed, information that clearly flagged the killer as a serious threat long before his terrible and tragic rampage.
It’s a safe bet that the sentiments expressed by the two Colchester councillors echo more widespread feelings in and around the communities where most of the murders were committed.
The killer carried out his deadly rampage dressed as a Mountie and, much of it, driving a car that was convincingly disguised as an RCMP vehicle.
Reports suggest that the RCMP were aware of the killer’s disguise as early as the night of April 18 but didn’t provide that essential information to the public until the middle of the next morning, and then only via Twitter. Several people were killed in the interim.
Why the RCMP didn’t engage the province’s emergency alert system, which can send an emergency message to virtually every cellphone and TV in the province, is another one of those nagging questions.
Meanwhile, calls for a public inquiry continue to mount. Last week, Nova Scotia’s Opposition Leader Tim Houston added his name to the growing list, saying a public inquiry is needed to restore confidence in the administration of justice.
And Lenore Zann, the Liberal member of Parliament from Cumberland-Colchester, where most of the carnage occurred, has called on her own government to ensure an inquiry is launched.
“There are issues of concern about the murderer’s behaviour long before, leading up to, and during the horrendous events of April 18 and 19,” Zann wrote to federal Public Safety Minister Bill Blair. She wants the inquiry to also probe the role misogyny and domestic abuse played in the tragedy.
As the questions pile up around the horrendous and deadly events of April 18 and 19 — questions the Mounties seem unable to answer — the need for a full, open and public inquiry has become absolutely inescapable.