“She was a hero,” said Brian Sauve, union leader representing 20,000 RCMP members across Canada.
Const. Heidi Stevenson, 48, was killed last Sunday in a confrontation with a man driving a fake police car and wearing an RCMP uniform in a murderous outburst that left 22 people dead.
According to a calendar released Friday by law enforcement officials, Gabriel Wortman, 51, had already killed a number of people and set houses on fire in several communities by the time Const. Chad Morrison saw the shooter’s car – believing it to be Const. Stevenson because they agreed to meet.
The gunman stopped next to Morrison and immediately opened fire, injuring the officer, who managed to get to the local hospital. He informed other officers and sent that he had been killed and that he was on his way to emergency medical care.
Stevenson then encountered the suspect and their vehicles collided.
“She realized he was the bad guy, and she crashed into him, from my understanding,” said Sauve.
“I admit that she did something that probably saved countless lives. I don’t know, five, 10, 20, how far this guy was going to go, “he said.
After the collision, Stevenson’s vehicle and the killer’s replica burned, and the gunner was no longer able to take advantage of the patrol car which, according to RCMP officials, was virtually identical to an authentic vehicle.
According to his obituary in The Chronicle Herald, Stevenson leaves behind her husband Dean and children Connor and Ava. She has been described as a caring wife and mother, and a dedicated policewoman with a strong work ethic.
The notice indicated that Stevenson was determined to join the RCMP after graduating from Acadia University in 1993.
She has assumed a number of roles within the Force, including community policing, communications, the drug recognition expert and the representation of the RCMP on the Carrousel.
Outside of work, Stevenson said, “was the busy parent who volunteered at school. She was the friend who delivered cinnamon rolls and homemade bread. She was the second mother of many children who came to play. She was the sweet smile when you needed it most. “
Stevenson’s decision to remove the killer’s car from service was crucial.
Police said some of the murders had taken place because the gunman had used the vehicle – which was equipped with a replica light bar – to arrest the victims before shooting them.
Friday, Supt. Darren Campbell spoke of Wortman’s impact on the replica of the police cruiser.
“I don’t think it is difficult for non-police personnel or the public to understand that this would obviously complicate matters,” he said.
“You know, I’ve been a police officer for almost 30 years now and I can’t imagine a more horrible set of circumstances than when you’re trying to find someone who looks like you and the dangers it causes, the complications it causes. “
The gunman managed to get out of his car, kill Stevenson and take his handgun.
A passer-by, Joey Webber, stopped and was shot by the shooter. Webber had made a family run to Shubenacadie, N.S. The shooter would later be killed by police in Enfield, N.S.
Hundreds of vehicles, including off-road motorcycles, hot rods and trucks, sporting many Nova Scotia flags, paid tribute to Webber on Saturday. Friends and relatives lined a rural road in the little corner of Wyses, Nova Scotia, to say goodbye.
The 36-year-old father of three was described in his obituary as a family man, a gifted horseman and a “real country boy”.
Because of COVID-19, Webber’s family could not have an appropriate funeral, so supporters organized the hour-long slow procession.
Webber was passionate about the stock car. Many vehicles had their number 75 racing car stuck in front and to the side. “Rest in peace Joey,” said the sign on a truck.
The first car in the procession, which passed Webber’s house, was a speed car from Scotia Speedworld, where Webber once ran. There was also a van with a huge black and white checkered flag.
An old muscle car Oldsmobile 442 had a prolonged burnout – the car is in the same place while the rear wheels are spinning and smoking – which drew applause from the crowd.
“This is what he liked,” said one woman. “All right, buddy. “
A private family service for Stevenson will take place in the coming days. Stevenson would normally receive a regimental funeral, but COVID-19 makes this impossible.
The National Police Federation helped organize “Wear Red Friday” in part to remember his sacrifice in the line of duty, as well as other loss of life.
Part of the goal was for RCMP members to have the chance “to say a small prayer for Heidi and his family,” said Sauve.
Police in Sudbury, Ont. Greeted Stevenson as bagpipes were screaming in the public square during a tribute attended by 10 people – the maximum size allowed for funerals.
Meanwhile, the families of the victims continue to make arrangements to rest their loved ones.
Obituaries published in the Chronicle Herald indicate that close friends and relatives are organizing a private funeral for many of the victims.
Many families have not requested any visitors in accordance with strict restrictions on social gatherings to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.
The signing of a guest book for Gina Goulet, a 54-year-old denturologist in Shubenacadie, was canceled to protect the health of those around her, according to her obituary.
Some say public celebrations of lives lost will take place after the COVID-19 pandemic ends.
Until then, many families have asked people to honor them through online condolences or donations to personal crowdfunds or other causes.
Some have found workarounds that allow grievers to pay tribute to the constraints of physical remoteness.
Lisa McCully’s obituary says the 49-year-old teacher and mother of two will remember a private funeral service on Sunday that will also be webcast.