Nova Scotia mass shooting: RCMP officers cleared of wrongdoing in firehall shooting

HALIFAX — Ontario’s police watchdog says no criminal charges should be laid against two Mounties who mistakenly shot at a bystander outside a Nova Scotia firehall as they were searching for the man responsible for a mass shooting that would claim 22 lives.

In April 2023, Ontario’s Special Investigations Unit (SIU) was mandated to determine if the inquiry that investigated the mass murder had unearthed new information about what happened at the Onslow firehall on April 19, 2020.

Months later, the SIU confirmed new information had been revealed, and the unit began investigating to determine if those findings could have had an impact on the Nova Scotia police watchdog’s decision in March 2021 to clear the officers of wrongdoing.

In a report released today, the SIU says the inquiry heard that the man police believed to be the killer had denied that he ducked and ran just before the two Mounties opened fire, and that he insisted he did not hear specific police commands, contrary to what the officers testified.

The SIU, however, concluded that no criminal charges were warranted because the officers had reasonable grounds to believe that the man in their sights was the killer and someone who would “continue his killing rampage.”

The SIU report says the new evidence does not point to a more incriminating scenario of what happened that day because it is reasonable to believe that both officers acted with justification.

“They discharged their weapons in order to prevent further deaths or serious injuries,” the SIU’s report says.

“The totality of the evidence establishes that the (officers) had reasonable grounds to believe the person they saw, who was disobeying their orders, was the mass murderer who had, in the preceding hour, killed three more persons.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 12, 2024.

The Canadian Press