Monday 18 May 2020

Evidence mounts Canada's worst-ever mass shooter was woman-hater and misogyny fuelled his killing spree that left 22 dead

A former neighbor of the gunman who killed 22 people in Canada's worst mass shooting said she reported his violence against women and possession of illegal firearms to police years ago — but was ignored.
It's been four weeks since Gabriel Wortman went on a 12-hour shooting spree in the rural town of Portapique in Nova Scotia before he was shot dead by police, in what became the country's deadliest mass shooting in modern history.
According to police, Wortman restrained and beat his partner in the hours before his killing spree, but she managed to survive by fleeing into nearby woods.

Linda MacDonald and Jeanne Sarson, the founders of Persons against Non-State Torture who have worked closely with people involved in the case, believe that misogyny and domestic violence helped fuel Wortman's murderous rampage, yet officials overlooked the warning signs.
"The science says that mass shootings are connected to male violence against women but the police are denying in a public press conference that there is misogyny in this case, even though there was a report that the shooter beat his partner...but what would you call it then?" MacDonald told Business Insider.

The new evidence emerged after Brenda Forbes, who used to live next to Wortman, told the Canadian Broadcasting Cooperation (CBC) that her 51-year-old neighbor was known in the community for being violent and intimidating.
"She ran to my house and said Gabriel was beating on her and she had to get away. She was afraid," Forbes told CBC.

Forbes said that she advised her neighbor to report his violence to the police but recalled how Wortman's partner was terrified of repercussions.
She also described one particular incident in 2013, when Wortman was seen "strangling" and "beating" his girlfriend behind one of his properties.
Three male witnesses, who saw the attack unfold, did not want to come forward to the police, fearing Wortman would retaliate against them.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) pack up after the search for Gabriel Wortman in Great Village, Nova Scotia, Canada April 19, 2020.John Morris/Reuters
Following the incident, Forbes called the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) herself but said she was left feeling frustrated after no action was taken.
"From what I got from the RCMP, because [the partner] would not put in a complaint, as she was scared to death, they basically said, 'There's not much we can do. We can monitor him but there's not much else we can do,'" she added.

"He knew I had weapons, being in the military, so he was always one of those guys who had to show others that whatever they had, he had something better," George Forbes said. Police later said that Wortman did not have a license for any of the weapons he used in the attack.
Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks in the House of Commons on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada April 20, 2020.Blair Gable/Reuters

The couple moved away in 2014, mainly out of a growing fear of Wortman's violent and unpredictable behavior.
In the weeks following the attack, Candian police have been using "psychological autopsy"— a method that involves in-depth interviews with friends, family, and witnesses — to investigate the motives of the gunman, according to the Guardian.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also announced on May 1 that he would be banning assault-style weapons in the country.
But activists in Nova Scotia are critical of how the case was handled by police, saying that Forbes' experience is "proof all the red flags were ignored."

Many mass shooters have a history of violence against women

Research has shown that while the motivation of men who commit mass shootings are often very complex, one common thread connects many of them — a history of hating women and domestic violence.

A 2018 Everytown for Gun Safety report revealed that in at least 54% of mass shootings, the perpetrator also shot a current or former intimate partner or family member.
Alek Minassian, who killed 10 people in 2018 by driving a rental van into a crowd in Toronto, admitted to police that he was a violent misogynist who was radicalized online, according to the Guardian.
In the US, the gunman of the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando reportedly beat his wife and verbally abused her regularly. The perpetrator in Las Vegas' Mandalay Bay shooting also had a history of stalking or abusing women.

"They're not taking male violence against women seriously"

"We have good laws in this country but it's the practice that's the issue. They're not valuing women's voices, they're not taking male violence against women seriously," Sarson told Business Insider.
"If you start with addressing the private incidents, you start with the one-on-one violence that they perpetrate, then you can prevent femicide, and then you can prevent a mass shooting. It's not complex," she added

But the activists also believe that the problem goes far beyond the dismissal of the report by police and that it is also an issue that is "deeply rooted in society."
While the police have not formally said they would investigate misogyny in the case, the activists were pleased to see that Canada's Deputy Prime Minister, Chrystia Freeland publicly acknowledged the mass murder as femicide.

In a speech given on the same day assault-weapons were made illegal, Freeland said: "Tackling systemic violence is our collective responsibility. One that requires us to challenge our attitudes, strengthen community support, ensure accountability for perpetrators, and critically keep deadly weapons out of their hands."
"Femicide has long been a scourge in our society. It remains a scourge, we must stop it. In saying no to assault-style weapons, we are putting feminist ideas into our practice," she added.

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