Get your top stories in one quick scan | CBC News

Get your top stories in one quick scan | CBC News

In today’s Morning Brief, we look at the video and audio recordings that captured the chaos and confusion of the 13-hour manhunt police manhunt during the weekend shooting rampage in Nova Scotia. We also look at how the push to research COVID-19 has come at the cost of developing treatments for other ailments.

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Recordings reveal chaos of Nova Scotia manhunt

RCMP investigators in Nova Scotia haven’t finished tracing the path of the man they say killed 22 people last weekend, but newly obtained video and audio recordings capture the chaos and confusion surrounding their 13-hour manhunt.

The initial 911 call, reporting the sound of gunshots in the tiny beach community of Portapique, N.S., was logged at 10:26 p.m. AT on Saturday. But when officers arrived 12 minutes later, they quickly understood that the situation was much more dire.  

“Is there also a structure fire out this way?” an officer asked his dispatcher in a radio exchange captured by Broadcastify, a website that monitors emergency communications. “We’re seeing huge flames and smoke.” Within five minutes, police had found the first of many victims, and an ambulance was directed to the scene.

Watch | Video shows gunman wearing uniform, changing clothes

For the RCMP, confusion about the exact nature of the crime and whether the suspect was still on the loose persisted for hours. It wasn’t until early Sunday — sometime between 7 a.m. and 8 a.m., according to RCMP Chief Supt. Chris Leather, the province’s criminal operations officer — that investigators finally came to understand that their suspect, Gabriel Wortman, was likely wearing an RCMP uniform and driving a replica police cruiser. 

“Nova Scotians have lots of questions about what happened, why it happened, what things were done and what wasn’t,” Leather said yesterday. “You can be assured that we have those same questions and we’ll be seeking answers.” 

Leather defended the force’s actions — including the decision to rely on Twitter to spread news of an armed and dangerous suspect making his way across the province — referencing the “unimaginable” challenges posed by a rampage that stretched over 100 kilometres and encompassed at least 16 separate crime scenes.

The RCMP say Wortman acted alone and did not possess any licenses for firearms in Canada. But their inquiries continue, with a special focus on who might have helped Wortman obtain his replica vehicle, and apparently authentic uniform. Read more on this story here.

Reach out

(Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images)

A woman in a mask walks past a mural on the side of a building in New York City on Wednesday. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said he would extend the shutdown of New York state until May 15 in co-ordination with other states to make progress in containing the novel coronavirus. Read how some U.S. states are planning  reopenings amid the pandemic.

In brief

From new gene therapies to the latest in cancer treatments, thousands of clinical trials deemed non-essential are on hold due to COVID-19. Brad Wouters, the executive vice-president of science and research at Toronto’s University Health Network (UHN), says the only new research happening at the moment is around COVID-19. About 200 of UHN’s researchers have pivoted to that, but thousands more risk losing their jobs, Wouters says, because in the past month alone UHN has lost $6 million in industry funding. Read more on how the pandemic has affected medical research.

Watch | COVID-19 paralyzes other medical research

In the aftermath of a horrific event like the Nova Scotia massacre, everyone searches for reasons, but experts say that’s not really productive and won’t help prevent another tragedy. Media speculation about the motive in a mass shooting typically yields no useful information, is “rarely helpful to society” and can be potentially harmful by encouraging copycats, some forensic psychiatrists say. “The risk by plastering motive all over the media, it gives would-be future shooters more of an opportunity to identify with past shooters,” said Dr. James Knoll, director of forensic psychiatry at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, N.Y. Read more of this story here.

The mass murder in Nova Scotia is a tragedy ripe for exploitation, a federal fraud investigator said after the crowdfunding platform GoFundMe removed a bogus campaign page claiming to be a fundraiser for two orphaned boys. A Nova Scotia woman posted to social media what she thought was a legitimate GoFundMe campaign by a member of the family of Greg and Jamie Blair. The couple was among those killed in the weekend shooting rampage in northern Nova Scotia. The would-be donor contacted the RCMP after she learned the campaign was not related to the Blair family. GoFundMe confirmed the campaign has since been removed. Read more about the fake fundraiser here.

Quebec Premier François Legault faces an ethical dilemma as the province prepares to enter the next phase of the pandemic — the start of the reopening of society. To avoid another wave of contagion, he will likely have to choose who gets their freedoms back and who must wait. With the process set to start May 4, there will be guidelines about wearing masks in public; schools will be reopened gradually, possibly by geographic region and with some kind of physical-distancing policy in place; and widespread coronavirus testing will be necessary. Read more about the decisions that will have to be made as the province reopens.

A year ago, curious Canadians were asking Google how long it takes to get to the moon, how to cook rice and how to make granola at home. These days, they’re more worried about government aid, making their own hand sanitizer and who is really behind the COVID-19 pandemic. Using Google Trends, CBC News compared the most popular web searches in Canada between March 1 and April 15 of this year and last. The results reveal widespread anxiety over financial security, staying safe and finding things to do while shut indoors. “It’s normal for crises and disasters to cause a lot of anxiety. This is a new level of scope in terms of disaster,” said Jordan Friesen, national director of workplace mental health for the Canadian Mental Health Association. Read more about what the search trends could mean.

Not even a deadly pandemic has halted the spread of another scourge: gun violence in U.S. cities. Despite stay-at-home orders, some cities are seeing similar, or even higher, homicide figures, writes CBC Washington correspondent Alexander Panetta. “Unfortunately, gun crimes are mostly unchanged,” is how Washington’s mayor, Muriel Bowser, put it during a news conference this week. This comes as police forces are now especially overwhelmed. The pandemic has spread through numerous police departments, sickening hundreds of officers. Read more on the developments in the United States.

Now for some good news to start your Thursday: Graeme Parsons’s two kids aren’t the only ones laughing and groaning at his dad jokes these days. Most of his neighbourhood is, too. Last week, the Regina man began setting up a daily “pun-demic” board on his driveway, with a joke, pun or groaner for those passing by to read. Parsons said the idea first came about a couple of weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic when he read the line, “I hear dad jokes are on the rise. This is turning into a real pun-demic.” While many of Parsons’s groaners come from the internet, he said a good chunk are shared through friends, family and a dad joke veteran — his own father, John Parsons. Check out Graeme’s Instagram account here, and read more about his story here.

Front Burner: ICU workers on the job, in their own words

Since January, the staff at Markham Stouffville Hospital in Ontario have cared for hundreds of COVID-19-positive patients. Through a series of self-recordings and interviews, CBC’s Wendy Mesley was able to access what life is like inside the hospital’s intensive care unit. Today on Front Burner, she shares stories of the physical and emotional toll faced by front-line workers there, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Today in history: April 23

1564: English dramatist William Shakespeare is born. He died on the same day 52 years later.

1978: British scientists Bob Edwards and Patrick Steptoe announce they had successfully carried out the first documented “test tube” pregnancy. Lesley Brown had become pregnant in November 1977 through in vitro fertilization. Louise Brown was born on July 25, 1978. 

2003: Ontario Provincial Police lay a total of 12 criminal charges against two brothers, Stan and Frank Koebel, who ran the water system in Walkerton, Ont., during the deadly E. coli outbreak in May 2000. (In exchange for guilty pleas to charges of common nuisance, more serious charges were dropped. Stan was sentenced to one year in jail, while Frank got a nine-month conditional house


2003: The World Health Organization issues a travel advisory that named Toronto along with Beijing and China’s Shanxi province as places that travellers should avoid in order to minimize the global spread of SARS, the infectious respiratory disease that killed hundreds of people worldwide. The Toronto ban was lifted a week later when a delegation of Canadian health officials presented mounting evidence that indicated the threat of SARS had greatly diminished in Canada.

2005: YouTube uploads its first video, titled Me at the Zoo, consisting of 18 seconds of co-founder Jawed Karim standing in front of an elephant enclosure at the San Diego Zoo.

2012: Alberta’s Progressive Conservatives under Alison Redford defy the pollsters, winning a 12th consecutive majority. The upstart Wildrose Party becomes the Official Opposition.

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