An elementary school teacher, two health-care workers, a family of three and an RCMP officer have been identified as among the at least 20 victims who died in this weekend’s shootings in rural Nova Scotia, one of the worst mass killings in Canadian history.
The victims were killed during a 12-hour rampage that began late Saturday in the small community of Portapique, with the gunman then moving through other communities in the area. He was killed after being intercepted by officers about 90 kilometres away in Enfield, north of Halifax.
RCMP have not named any victims. CBC is working to identify victims through family, friends and official sources, while trying to ensure next of kin have been notified before publishing their names.
Here are profiles of some of the victims. CBC News will continue to update this file as more information becomes available.
Gina Goulet, a 54-year-old in Shubenacadie, N.S., battled cancer twice before her life was taken on Sunday, her daughter Amelia Butler told The Canadian Press.
Goulet worked as a denturist for 27 years, but Butler couldn’t say whether she had encountered the shooter, who worked in the same field.
Elizabeth Joanne Thomas and John Joseph Zahl
Elizabeth Joanne Thomas and John Joseph Zahl are presumed dead.
They moved to Portapique for retirement in 2017 from Albuquerque, N.M., their son Justin Zahl said.
He said his father, in his late 60s, was a veteran of the U.S. navy, and his mother, in her late 50s, was originally from Winnipeg.
Zahl, 22, said his parents had adopted him and his younger brother, and John had other children from a previous marriage.
He said police told him his parents’ log house on Portapique Beach Road had burned down, but could not confirm whether his parents were inside. He was told to expect the worst.
Corrie Ellison, 42, was remembered Monday as a thoughtful, kind friend who went out of his way to help others.
“He’s the type of person that I don’t think anybody would want to see that happen to him,” his father Richard Ellison said.
Corrie Ellison lived in Truro, N.S., but was visiting his father in Portapique when he was killed. Richard Ellison declined to comment on how his son died.
Ashley Fennell said she was good friends with Corrie Ellison for almost a decade. She described him as “a beautiful soul.”
Corrie Ellison was on disability support because of an old injury. He had no children of his own but he loved kids, Fennell said.
“He was just such a nice guy,” she said.
Dawn Madsen and Frank Gulenchyn
The wife and husband were long-time residents of the Durham region in southern Ontario, according to a news release from the Regional Municipality of Durham.
Dawn Madsen was an employee at Hillsdale Terraces long-term care home for decades and retired in 2019. No information was shared about her husband, Frank Gulenchyn.
“Our hearts go out to their family and all families affected by this senseless tragedy,” said the release.
Aaron Tuck, Jolene Oliver and Emily Tuck
Jolene Oliver, 40, was originally from Calgary, according to her sister, Tammy Oliver-McCurdie. She met 45-year-old Aaron Tuck, a mechanic, while working as a waitress in Alberta.
The couple and their 17-year-old daughter, Emily Tuck, moved to Nova Scotia two years ago to be closer to Aaron Tuck’s mother, who was sick. They lived in Portapique.
Oliver-McCurdie said Emily was a musician who played the violin. She was trying to choose between music and welding for her post-secondary education. From a young age, Emily would be in the garage with her father, helping him fix cars, according to Oliver-McCurdie.
“She knew everything underneath the hood,” said Oliver-McCurdie, who lives in Red Deer, Alta. “She didn’t even get to live her life. She had so much potential … so much love, so, smart, so caring, so humble.”
Oliver-McCurdie said family was very important to her sister. She said she fell in love with life in Portapique.
Sean McLeod was a Correctional Service Canada employee at Springhill Institution, a federal prison in Springhill, N.S. He lived in West Wentworth, a community roughly 50 kilometres north of Portapique.
He was living with fellow Correctional Service Canada employee Alanna Jenkins at 2328 Hunter Rd.
McLeod’s daughter, Taylor Andrews, said the couple was always welcoming people into their home, and it’s where she’d spend the majority of the summer.
“They would have done anything for anybody, not thought twice about it. They just loved to help people any way that they could,” Andrews told CBC’s Mainstreet.
McLeod and Jenkins especially loved having Andrews’s two-year-old daughter over. She was supposed to be visiting them on Saturday night but didn’t end up coming over, Andrews said.
“All my friends loved them. They made everyone feel welcome,” she said.
Lisa Owen, a neighbour, called 911 to report an explosion and gunfire at the home around 8 a.m. Sunday. She said 911 took her information and patched her through to EHS who asked her to go over and determine whether an ambulance was needed.
“I had to go over and look at them, and tell them. Verify that, you know, there was no signs of life,” Owen said.
Alanna Jenkins was an employee at the Nova Institution for Women in Truro, N.S.
She lived with McLeod in West Wentworth and was also found dead in the home Sunday morning after a fire broke out and gunshots were heard.
Taylor Andrews, Jenkins’s step-daughter, said the couple had a beautiful property where everyone always wanted to be.
“They were the nicest people I know,” she said.
Tom Bagley was a neighbour who was passing by the scene of the Hunter Road explosion in West Wentworth when he was shot and killed Sunday morning, according to Owen.
Bagley’s daughter, Charlene Bagley, posted on Facebook that her dad had died trying to help others.
“This beautiful soul was taken from me so unnecessarily. I can’t even comprehend it,” she wrote.
“He died trying to help, which if you knew him, you knew that was just who he was all the time. I know he meant something to so many people.”
The Halifax International Airport Authority said Bagley had been an airport firefighter from 1975 to 2006.
“We’d like to share our deepest condolences to his loved ones, and to all the Nova Scotians impacted by this unimaginable situation, at this incredibly challenging time,” airport spokesperson Leah Batstone said in an email.
Lisa McCully was a teacher at Debert Elementary School in Debert, the Nova Scotia Teachers Union said late Sunday.
“She was somebody who taught from the heart,” said Nova Scotia Teachers Union president Paul Wozney. “She taught her kids not just the curriculum but teaching about virtues and personal qualities.”
McCully was a longtime teacher at the school and a mother of two who lived in Portapique.
“I know that a parent of one of her students posted on Facebook the hole that was going to be left in his life now because Ms. McCully wasn’t going to be a part of it anymore,” said Wozney.
Debert Elementary School principal Scott Armstrong said McCully taught at the school for the last five years.
“She was an incredibly positive person whose love of life and children brightened the day of anyone who came in contact with her,” Armstrong wrote in a statement.
McCully was also committed to her own two children and had been working hard over the last couple of weeks, developing online lessons for her students during the ongoing closures because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“She was first and foremost a loving mom. Her world revolved around her children and she brought this love into her classroom each and every day. Lisa was vibrant and fun and always one of the first to step up and volunteer in any activities that made our school a home away from home for our students,” Armstrong said.
“Lisa will always hold a special place in our hearts.”
Despite all she did in the community, McCully never seemed stressed and always had time for her family, said Gina Barrett White, a friend and colleague.
She said McCully had many friends and “so many kids loved her.”
“She was just the light in the room,” Barrett White told CBC’s Mainstreet. “She lived her life to the fullest and that’s what I liked about her.”
Const. Heidi Stevenson
Const. Heidi Stevenson was identified Sunday by the RCMP as the officer killed while responding to the call about an active shooter. She was a 23-year member of the force and a mother of two children, one in Grade 6 and the other in Grade 8.
“I met with Heidi’s family, and there are no words to describe their pain,” Lee Bergerman, the commanding officer for the RCMP in Nova Scotia and assistant commissioner, said during a news 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 is being remembered as a good neighbour, colleague and friend by Staff Sgt. Scott MacDonald with the Halifax Regional Police. In a news release, he said he was honoured to have known Stevenson.
Amelia Sproule, 12, is good friends with Stevenson’s daughter and often spent time at their house in Cole Harbour. She said Stevenson was a great person.
“She was really kind and really welcoming and she kind of actually sometimes acted like a second mother to me. When I was at swim meets … she would always be there for me. She was just a really helping hand all the time,” said Sproule.
Another RCMP officer, Const. Chad Morrison, was injured while responding to the call. He was released from hospital Monday.
Heather O’Brien was a licensed practical nurse, a wife, mother and grandmother. She worked for the Victorian Order of Nurses for nearly 17 years. In a news release Monday, the VON said O’Brien deeply cared for others.
Her obituary said it was “an understatement” to say that she loved her job.
“She went out into the community every day with a passion for people, kindness for everyone and lessons for those who needed to be taught,” it said.
O’Brien was a lifetime resident of Masstown, N.S., and had “a great love for the community she was raised in.”
An advocate for many young people, she had a special bond with kids and is survived by her husband of 35 years, six children, two stepchildren and 12 grandchildren.
“She was truly gifted and wanted nothing more than to make the world a better place. Heather was a natural born healer. We have lost an incredible woman, with a heart of gold, but we know that she’s smiling watching us,” said her obituary.
Kristen Beaton was a continuing care assistant and a young wife and mother. She worked for the VON for nearly six years and was a compassionate and caring member of the team, said the news release.
Officials with the VON said they mourn Beaton and O’Brien’s deaths and feel for their families. The release did not list their home communities.
Greg and Jamie Blair
Greg and Jamie Blair, a married couple, have been confirmed by family to be among the victims.
A Facebook page appearing to belong to Greg Blair shows he worked as a gas fitter at G.B Gas & Energy.
A young father of three daughters, Joey Webber went out to run an errand for his family on Sunday morning, according to a GoFundMe page.
The post said Webber was missing for several hours before the family learned he was one of the victims.
The page said Webber worked in the forestry sector.
“He was very polite, always had a smile on his face. He was a great father and will be greatly missed by the community,” Streatch said.
Lillian Hyslop lived in the Wentworth area. Her longtime walking partner and neighbour, Heather Matthews, has confirmed Hyslop was killed while out for a walk in the Wentworth Valley on Sunday morning.
The RCMP said all the victims appear to have been killed by 51-year-old Gabriel Wortman, who at one point wore a police uniform and drove a mock-up police cruiser as he went on a rampage throughout a part of rural Nova Scotia.
The first reports of an active shooter came late Saturday from Portapique, about 40 kilometres west of Truro. Police said Sunday night the suspected shooter was killed in Enfield.