RCMP Chief Supt. Chris Leather said police the process of preparing an alert when the gunman was shot and killed by the RCMP. (CBC)

RCMP say they were ‘in process’ of preparing alert when gunman was killed

Officials with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in Nova Scotia said Wednesday they were “in the process” of preparing an emergency alert when the gunman, who had killed 22 people in a shooting spree across the Atlantic province over the weekend, was killed by police officers.

RCMP brass in Nova Scotia have come under criticism for using Twitter to alert the public about the deadly rampage instead of using the emergency alert system that could send warning messages to people’s phones, radio and TV, advising them to hunker down at home until the situation was resolved.

“At 10:15 a.m., [on Sunday] Nova Scotia Provincial Emergency Management officials contacted the RCMP to offer the use of the public emergency alerting system,” officials with Canada’s national police force said at a news conference Wednesday.

“We were in the process of preparing an alert when the gunman was shot and killed by the RCMP.”

RCMP Chief Supt. Chris Leather said police first responded to a possible shooting at 10:26 p.m. on Saturday night in the rural community of Portapique, about 130 kilometres north of provincial capital of Halifax.

Police found several bodies inside and outside the residence but were unable to locate the suspect, police said.

RCMP officers began searching the area and advised people to stay inside. Police tweeted at 10:32 p.m. that they were responding to a firearms complaint and told residents to lock their doors.

Leather said it was between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m. the following day that police received information the shooter was dressed as an RCMP officer and driving a fake police cruiser.

Leather said as soon as they had those details, they were immediately tweeted out by communications staff. The tweet was sent at 9:21 a.m. local time.

Police say they cannot identify the firearms used by the suspect at the time of him being stopped by police, as that information is with the Serious Incident Response Team, the province’s police watchdog.

Leather said where the gunman got his firearms is “a key part of the investigation.”

With files from CBC News

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