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Mountie says holding back gun details was ‘no-brainer’ in N.S. mass shooting

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By Michael Tutton in Halifax

The Mountie in charge of the investigation into the Nova Scotia mass shooting says it was a “no-brainer” for him to withhold details of the killer’s guns nine days after the rampage.

Chief Supt. Darren Campbell was testifying today before the public inquiry into the April 18-19, 2020, murders of 22 people by a gunman driving a replica police vehicle.

According to notes from Campbell tabled earlier as evidence, RCMP Commissioner Brenda Lucki criticized him for not providing the gun details during an April 28 press conference, saying she had promised the Prime Minister’s Office the information would be released in connection with “pending gun control legislation.”

The superintendent’s notes prompted opposition parties to accuse the federal Liberals of meddling in an active investigation in order to advance a gun control law that was being prepared at the time.

Campbell told the inquiry that as a veteran homicide investigator, he was firmly opposed to releasing information about the guns possessed by the killer, Gabriel Wortman.

Some gun control experts have argued the release wouldn’t have had a significant impact on the investigation and would have allowed for public debate on the necessity of added gun control.

However, Campbell testified that releasing details about the semi-automatic weapons, such as their colour, type, serial numbers, calibre and additions to the weapons, would have closed down avenues for a criminal probe.

He said he had spoken to the investigators involved and they’d agreed not to release the details.

“For me, simply, the way I could put it is: It was a no-brainer,” he said.

“We were nine days post the April 18 and 19 events. We were still involved in multi-agency investigations … with the objectives of determining what role Gabriel Wortman played, as well as (the role of) any individual who may have assisted him in any way,” said Campbell.

He said police can assess the credibility of an individual’s evidence about the guns if they could ask the witness questions about details like calibre and type of arms, and see if they in fact were knowledgeable about these details.

He also said that if, during a covert operation, somebody confessed to aiding Wortman obtain the weapons, and the details of the weapons hadn’t been widely publicized, then officers could assess the truth of that confession.

Campbell didn’t reveal the details of weaponry at the time, which only emerged after the National Post obtained them through an access to information request in November that year.

The officer became involved in the response on the night of April 18, 2020, as killings began in Portapique, N.S., and he remained involved as the killer continued his rampage the next day before being shot by police.

He approved deploying a critical incident commander to the scene at 10:46 p.m. on the first night and stayed in contact with RCMP officers on-site as the killer drove a replica police car through the province.

The inquiry’s lawyer, Rachel Young, asked Campbell about the failure of the RCMP to interview two eyewitnesses to the shooting until about seven hours after it started, and incorrect assumptions made about the replica vehicle being unmarked — despite an initial witness describing it as a marked RCMP vehicle.

The superintendent agreed with the commission’s lawyer that communication of initial evidence on that night could have been improved.

He said he favours a system where officers overseeing a response to a mass shooting could review and re-listen to statements of witnesses, rather than relying on memory and potentially losing track of what was originally said.

He said the failure to interview two people whom the killer had fired at until the next morning, at about 5 a.m., may have been due to concern for the health of Andrew MacDonald, who had been wounded.

Campbell led the RCMP’s investigation into the incident, and was the public face of the RCMP during news conferences in the weeks after the rampage.

He is also scheduled to testify before the House of Commons public safety committee, which is exploring whether there was political interference as the RCMP investigated what happened.

Campbell, who was a superintendent at the time, has since been promoted to chief superintendent of the RCMP division in New Brunswick.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 25, 2022.

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Alberta

Fatality inquiry begins into death of Calgary teen who weighed 37 pounds

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CALGARY — An Alberta judge is looking for answers in the case of a 15-year-old boy who died in his Calgary home weighing less than 37 pounds.

Alexandru Radita died in May 2013 of bacterial sepsis brought on by complications due to untreated diabetes and starvation.

His parents, who had moved from B.C. to Alberta, were found guilty in 2017 of first-degree murder.

Witnesses at the trial testified that the Raditas refused to accept their son had diabetes, failed to treat his disease and kept him isolated at home.

Alberta provincial court Judge Sharon Van de Veen said Monday the fatality inquiry will seek to find out what could have been done to save the boy’s life and prevent other cases like this from happening again.

There were government officials involved throughout this child’s life, including child and family services in the province of British Columbia and doctors and pharmacists,” Van de Veen said.

“I will not be reviewing the facts relating to the horror of this child’s life. My purpose is going to be to review to what extent the state itself could have intervened in the life of this child to save his life.”

Van de Veen said the inquiry, which is scheduled to run all week, will see if protocols between the children’s services ministries in Alberta and B.C. would help in similar cases. She also questioned if a pharmacists association could provide assistance when insulin is accessed sporadically for patients.

The first day of the inquiry focused on whether Alex’s lack of attendance in his home-schooling could have alerted officials.

He was enrolled in a Catholic home-schooling program in September 2009 for Grade 5, but not a single piece of work from him was submitted. Teachers and a principal attempted to contact his parents through phone calls and letters throughout the school year but were not able to reach them.

Michel Despins, vice-principal of the School of Hope online school, said 25 attempts were made to reach the Raditas. Neither Alex nor his three siblings ever submitted school work.

Despins said there are now electronic records for each student, but any information about a student not registering is only available in Alberta.

Despins offered some possible solutions, including that a previous school board get an alert if a student is no longer registered anywhere.

He said there needs to be a protocol on what to do if that happens and parents can’t be reached.

“If in September we get an alert and we contact the parents and they register somewhere else, no problem. But if they do not, what’s the standard protocol to do with that?” he asked.

“Do you submit it to social services?”

Van de Veen said the inquiry will only hear from witnesses from Alberta, even though there were protection orders for Alex in place in B.C.

Emil Radita, Alex’s father, is watching the proceedings from prison in B.C.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 19, 2022.

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Pressfficials involved throughout this child’s life, including child and family services in the province of British Columbia and doctors and pharmacists,” Van de Veen said.

“I will not be reviewing the facts relating to the horror of this child’s life. My purpose is going to be to review to what extent the state itself could have intervened in the life of this child to save his life.”

Van de Veen said the inquiry, which is scheduled to run all week, will see if protocols between the children’s services ministries in Alberta and B.C. would help in similar cases. She also questioned if a pharmacists association could provide assistance when insulin is accessed sporadically for patients.

The first day of the inquiry focused on whether Alex’s lack of attendance in his home-schooling could have alerted officials.

He was enrolled in a Catholic home-schooling program in September 2009 for Grade 5, but not a single piece of work from him was submitted. Teachers and a principal attempted to contact his parents through phone calls and letters throughout the school year but were not able to reach them.

Michel Despins, vice-principal of the School of Hope online school, said 25 attempts were made to reach the Raditas. Neither Alex nor his three siblings ever submitted school work.

Despins said there are now electronic records for each student, but any information about a student not registering is only available in Alberta.

Despins offered some possible solutions, including that a previous school board get an alert if a student is no longer registered anywhere.

He said there needs to be a protocol on what to do if that happens and parents can’t be reached.

“If in September we get an alert and we contact the parents and they register somewhere else, no problem. But if they do not, what’s the standard protocol to do with that?” he asked.

“Do you submit it to social services?”

Van de Veen said the inquiry will only hear from witnesses from Alberta, even though there were protection orders for Alex in place in B.C.

Emil Radita, Alex’s father, is watching the proceedings from prison in B.C.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 19, 2022.

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press

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Crime

Day parole extended for woman who killed Victoria teenager Reena Virk 25 years ago

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Vancouver – Day parole has been extended for a woman convicted of murdering Victoria teenager Reena Virk almost 25 years ago.

A Parole Board of Canada decision says 40-year-old Kerry Sim, who was formerly known as Kelly Ellard, has been authorized to remain on day parole but with numerous conditions.

Sim was 15 years old when she and a group of teenagers swarmed and beat Virk, and her trial heard she and a co-accused later followed the 14-year-old girl to continue the beating and drown her in the Gorge waterway.

The parole board’s decision, released Friday, says Sim has remained focused on her two sons since her parole was revoked for two months last year over a positive drug test, her confession that she’d sipped wine and indications of mutual violence in her relationship with her partner.

Day parole was reinstated last October and the two-member panel now says Sim has made progress in her reintegration, although there’s concern that when she’s faced with multiple stressors it can result in poor decision-making.

In addition to conditions imposed not to consume drugs or alcohol and not to have contact with certain people, the board ordered Sim to follow psychiatric treatment to address her anxiety and other mental health issues.

The board also suggests that she look for employment, saying in the decision that she seems reluctant to move ahead with the steps necessary to find work.

Sim’s case management team also recommended her day parole be extended, the decision says.

“You have positive community support from your mother, (community residential) staff, and the family of your partner. The same special conditions currently in place are recommended for this new period of day parole.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 16, 2022.

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september, 2022

tue27sep10:00 am4:00 pmCACPC Annual SHRED Event10:00 am - 4:00 pm MST The Central Alberta Crime Prevention Centre, 4311-49 Ave Event Organized By: The Central Alberta Crime Prevention Centre

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