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RCMP investigation christened "H-Strong" in latest update 

Describes where the shooter bought car decals, what SiRT is investigating and says it's working on a "psychological autopsy"

click to enlarge Nova Scotia RCMP are investigating 17 crime scenes in the province—eight of them are within the Portapique community. - RCMP NS
  • Nova Scotia RCMP are investigating 17 crime scenes in the province—eight of them are within the Portapique community.
  • RCMP NS

Nova Scotia RCMP have now been investigating the country’s largest shooting massacre in history for just over three weeks.

Police say the events of April 18 and 19 have been given the name of H-Strong, a portmanteau of the Nova Scotia “H Division” of RCMP and the #NovaScotiaStrong hashtag on social media.

In a May 11 press release, RCMP gave the latest official information since their last update on April 28, where they explained how the gunman left Portapique through a field late Saturday night, how he spent his overnight hours in Debert, and that they were still investigating whether he received any help acquiring weapons and police paraphernalia.

“There is still much work to be done on the investigation, but we have made significant progress to date,” said RCMP Superintendent Darren Campbell on the 28th.

In today’s release, police have provided clarification about which matters related to the shootings were referred to Nova Scotia’s Serious Incident Response Team (SiRT). Originally, a third matter was referred, but SiRT threw that investigation back to the RCMP.

“Gunfire by RCMP officers at the Onslow Belmont Fire Brigade on April 19 and the death of the gunman.” RCMP say. The third matter, which is related to whether Cst. Heidi Stevenson fired her weapon at the gunman, continues to be part of Operation H-Strong.”

A major part of the investigation has also been tracking down where the gunman purchased replica police uniform pieces and decals to adorn retired RCMP vehicles he purchased at auctions.

“We do know that surplus police uniforms are available to the public through a variety of means, including surplus stores, auctions and online,” said RCMP back on April 28.

click to enlarge Pieces of RCMP uniform the gunman wore during his rampage. - NOVA SCOTIA RCMP
  • Pieces of RCMP uniform the gunman wore during his rampage.
  • Nova Scotia RCMP
The Coast has found that a vast amount of this paraphernalia is easily available online. Police say they now know where the gunman accessed the decals that were on his car.

“The decals were created without permission of the business owner. The business owner and individual who made the decals are both cooperating with police,” say RCMP.

Police have now released their 17 crime scenes, and say they found nothing underground at the gunman’s home by using ground-penetrating radar. They believe the fires at various crime scenes were started by an accelerant.

“From witness statements, we know the gunman had a significant supply of gasoline at his home in Portapique,” say RCMP.

The gunman’s weapons, two semi-automatic handguns and two semi-automatic rifles, are also an are of the investigation. “One of the guns has been traced to Canada. The remaining guns that were recovered are believed to have been obtained in the United States,” say RCMP.

Police are working with the Canadian Services Border Agency to track down how the guns got into Canada. RCMP are also working with other specialists including crime analysts, forensic anthropologists, and the RCMP Behavioural Analysis Unit to conduct a “psychological autopsy” of the gunman.

“This includes an analysis of his personality, past behaviour and how he related to others,” say police. In part, this means RCMP want to speak with witnesses and people who had encountered the gunman over the years.

“Investigators have spoken with 500 witnesses and are continuing to conduct interviews. We thank all those who have spoken with investigators and to all of those who have submitted tips and video,” say RCMP.

Anyone who has had a personal or professional conflict with the gunman is asked to call the RCMP tip line at 1-833-570-0121.

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