How did the Portapique shooter get his guns and who helped him?

Once the police killed the shooter at a gas station in Enfieldin Nova Scotia, they found five firearms in his possession.

Investigators traced three of the weapons to HoultonMaine, a small town less than seven kilometers from the New Brunswick border that the shooter visited frequently.

Court records and documents released by the public inquiry explain how investigators believe Gabriel Wortman got them.

They suggest that a long-time friend in Houlton offered him a handgun and took another one from this man. He also arranged to buy a rifle after visiting a gun show in the small Maine town.

An intersection in Houlton, Maine.

Fewer than 6,000 people live in Houlton, Maine, where the shooter in the Portapique, Nova Scotia shooting got three of his guns. The shooter crossed the border 15 times in the 2 years before the shooting.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Eric Wooliscroft

The shooter, who did not have a firearms license, illegally imported these firearms into Canada. And according to American law, he should never have been able to obtain them.

In the United States, it is illegal for an American to transfer, sell, trade, give, transport, or deliver a firearm to someone who is not a US resident. Anyone guilty of these offenses is liable to fines or imprisonment.

Offenses don’t always end up in court

It appears that no one in the United States has ever been charged with supplying firearms used by the shooter.

A retired US federal prosecutor says that’s not surprising.

Margaret Groban explains that gun offenses rarely end up in US courts unless the accused is considered a risk to the community.

Even though it’s technically a violent crime and people say, ‘Why don’t you prosecute the crimes on the books?’, there are no resources available to do so.says the one who worked for the United States Department of Justice and who now teaches gun law at the University of Maine.

The US Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Exhibitors (ATF) does not have an ongoing investigation.

the FBI sent questions about the case to Canadian law enforcement saying he could not confirm or deny there was an investigation. In the meantime RCMP referred the questions to the Americans.

Officers said they were working with their international counterparts and any decision to lay charges for offenses committed outside of Canada would be reviewed by the appropriate law enforcement agency.

From the start of its investigation, the RCMP says tracing the provenance of the firearms to determine if anyone had assisted the shooter was a critical part of his investigation.

Summaries of police statements released in a legal challenge launched by The Canadian News and other media informs us about this part of the investigation.

They show that, in the weeks following the murders, an agent of the FBI conducted interviews at Houltonjust like the RCMP and the ATF.

One of the people they spoke with was Sean Conlogue, a longtime friend of the shooter who often hosted him and his partner, Lisa Banfieldto Houlton.

A white house with a black roof.

The shooter frequently stayed at the home of his friend Sean Conlogue in Houlton, Maine. He had packages, including parts for the replica cruiser he had built, shipped there and would bring them back across the border.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Eric Woolliscroft

The shooter had packages delivered to his residence, including motorcycle parts and a light bar used to outfit the replica police car used during the massacre.

Sean Conlogue refused to speak to The Canadian News when two journalists visited his home at the end of March.

But in his testimony to the Mass Casualty Commission, we learn that he and the shooter met in New Brunswick several years ago. They shared a mutual friend, the former Fredericton lawyer, Tom Evans.

Besides, the shooter obtained one of his five firearms, a Ruger Mini 14, from the estate of the lawyer after his death.

Three others were from Maine, and court records suggest two had once belonged to Sean Conlogue. Either a semi-automatic handgun and a semi-automatic pistol.

Sean Conlonge said to have given one of the guns to the shooter in exchange for rendering service. The other shooter would have taken him home.

Both handguns were considered restricted firearms in Canada.

Two weeks after the shooting, the Canadian government announced a ban on 1,500 types of firearms, including the two shotguns used in the murders, the Ruger Mini and a rifle Colt M4.

It was already illegal to fit them with extra rounds through overcapacity magazines, as the shooter did.

A third weapon purchased illegally

As for the third gun from Maine, police believe the shooter obtained the brand’s semi-automatic rifle Colt at a gun show Houlton.

One of the organizers, Paul Harrisonsaid that buyer had to go through a background check of the FBI before you can buy a gun.

He adds that someone who buys a firearm for another person who is prohibited from selling one is not a good thing.

People here went to jail for years, for doing that, so it’s pretty well known that you don’t do that! »

A quote from Paul Harrisonorganizer of a gun show

In his opinion, it is not difficult for the authorities to know who bought a specific model that weekend, because all the sales were accompanied by a paper trail.

It appears authorities have traced the rifle’s path, but the exact details of the transaction and who assisted the shooter remain obscure in public records.

In the summary of the statement that Sean Conlogue gave to the RCMPhe said he knew the shooter went to the gun show with someone else and bought a gun.

Easy access to guns in Maine

The Mass Casualty Commission plans to release its report on how the shooter obtained his weapons next week.

Margaret Grobanthe retired prosecutor, says Maine is considered a source state where it’s easier to get guns.

It is clear that if weapons from Maine were used, it is a tragedy and something should be done to ensure that it does not happen again. »

A quote from Margaret Grobanprofessor of firearms law, University of Maine

Nevertheless Eileen McLaughlina city councilor from Houltonfinds it unfortunate that his community is now linked to the tragedy in Nova Scotia.

Eileen McLaughlin seated in an armchair.

Houlton Councilor Eileen McLaughlin says she has always viewed her community as a safe place that does not tolerate gun violence.

Photo: Radio-Canada / Eric Wooliscroft

She admits that being a border town, Houlton is a hallway, but she maintains that there is little gun violence in her community and border patrol agents are frequent.

People want to blame someone. They want to blame a place, an organization. They mean, ‘Oh, he brought guns from Houlton.’ It’s a reputation that’s just not fair to a community that works very hard to uphold the laws.she says.

With information from Elizabeth McMillan, Angela MacIvor of CBC

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