On Apr. 18, Canada experienced its worst mass shooting to date with the killing of 22 individuals in the province of Nova Scotia, in addition to the death of the gunman himself.
The tragedy began in the gunman’s town of residence in Portapique and did not come to an end until the perpetrator had travelled over 50 miles during a 12-hour manhunt. The shooter was eventually shot by police and died the next day from his injuries. The massacre left behind not only the death of 22 citizens, but also extensive damage to five buildings and cars set on fire throughout the night.
The shooter, a denture fitter in Nova Scotia, conducted his attacks dressed in a Royal Canadian Mounted Police uniform while driving an ostensibly homemade and highly realistic RCMP vehicle. His motive for the attacks remains unknown, and while some victims were targeted acquaintances, others have no known previous relations to the gunman.
The Canadian police quickly began investigating whether the shooting spree was conducted as a solo act or with assistance along the way. Questions have also arisen concerning whether the state of coronavirus regulations contributed to his motives; long-term isolation and social distancing may have led to a decreased mental state or a blocked thought process.
While families across Canada are grieving, the memorial procedure will be significantly altered given the current circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic. On Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a virtual vigil set to air at the end of the week. Trudeau also reaffirmed that the government will move forward with a military-style assault rifle ban. Canadians have attempted a public display of unity and sympathy by placing lit candles in home windows, and over 40,000 members have already joined a Facebook page filled with memorials and condolences.
The nation’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, accurately captured the compassion and unity exhibited by the local community in the aftermath of tragedy, remarking, “I think people in Nova Scotia will, in their own way, be able to mourn together.”
(Sources: NPR KQED, The New York Times)