Friday, December 09, 2022

RCMP officer worried, if photo of NS killer’s car is released, the result will be ‘extreme panic’

The Nova Scotia RCMP was initially reluctant to release a photo of a replica police cruiser piloted by a gunman that killed 22 people in April 2020 fearing it might create a “manic panic”.

The details are from an interview with an RCMP operations officer who responded to the April 18 and 19 shootings that were investigated by Public Inquiry into the mass shooting.

Staff Sergeant Steve Holiday told investigators of the investigation that during an 8 a.m. phone call with communications director Lia Scanlan on April 19, he expressed concerns about publicly releasing a photo obtained from a replica RCMP car of the killer.

Holiday told interrogation interviewers in November 2021 that he was concerned about how the message would be worded like, “Order not, you know, (at any more risk) to put yourself on our people.” ”

According to the interview transcript, Holiday told Scanlan that he wanted to “avoid sending the public into a frantic panic and overloading our OCC (Operational Communications Center) operators.” Based in Truro, NS, these operators handled 911 calls.

He said that with so many police cars on the road responding to the rampage, he imagined that “everyone who sees a police car will (start) call 911.” He said that when trying to “frame” it, it was above all how this information would be communicated.

Finally, photos of the suspect’s vehicle were not shared with the public until 10:17 a.m., nearly three hours after Halifax regional police received photos from a relative of the killer’s wife.

“We knew we had to take it out,” Holiday told interviewers, referring to a photo of the killer’s RCMP car. “But you know, none of us had any experience in sending this kind of message to the public,” he said.

“It was very heavy.”

Before the RCMP asked Heidi Stevenson to be killed by a gunman while running to support another officer who was shot, he asked about sharing a photo of the replica cruiser with the public.

At 8:44 a.m., Stevenson is recorded asking observers if they had considered distributing a media release about the killer’s fully marked Ford Taurus. He was killed in a gunfight after gunman Gabriel Wortman collided with their vehicles at 10:49 a.m.

Colchester County RCMP District Commander Al Carroll emailed Staff Sgt. Bruce Briars, risk manager for the Operational Communications Center, said of Stevenson’s suggestion of a 9:08 a.m. media release that there would not be a public statement about the police car. “Consideration was given regarding the vehicle for release, but the decision was not made,” Carroll wrote.

Seven minutes later Brears replied: “Great, thought they didn’t want to release.”

It’s not clear what Briar meant by “they” in his email. In interviews with Inquisitor, Holiday stated that he was not aware of this conversation between Carroll and Brears.

Holiday said, “It’s the first time I’ve heard something like this, and I’m shocked to hear it. I don’t think it’s accurate, frankly.”

It’s not clear from police call records whether the Operational Communications Center in Truro was flooded with calls after the photo’s final release on social media at 10:17 a.m., but investigation documents reported the shooter’s photo minutes later to police. Two incidents of the shooter are described. Fake police car was shared.

Around 10:39 a.m., a police officer heard from his wife that her friend saw what seemed to be an RCMP car drive past her house, while driving south on Highway 2 in Brookfield. According to the document, he later told police that he thought it might be the culprit based on “pictures seen on the Internet.”

Minutes later, the constable was confirmed that none of the RCMP members were driving a marked car in the area.

Then, at 10:42 a.m., another woman arrived at the RCMP to report a marked police vehicle headed from Brookfield intersection to Steviake, which had a “B11” marker, the last part of the code that the killer used to call his car. was used to mark. “He had seen the RCMP’s Facebook post regarding the vehicle,” the document reads.

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