More than 19 people are known to have died after a gunman, dressed as a police officer, opened fire in several locations across a Canadian province.

Police say they expect the death toll to rise but are aware of “in excess of 19 victims”, including a family of three, making it the deadliest mass shooting in Canada’s history.

The suspected attacker, Gabriel Wortman, allegedly shot people in their homes and set properties and vehicles on fire in a 12-hour rampage that began late on Saturday in Nova Scotia.

Gabriel Wortman  https://twitter.com/RCMPNS

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Gabriel Wortman is suspected of shooting a number of people. Pic: @RCMPNS

Wortman, a 51-year-old denturist, had disguised his vehicle to look like a police car and was wearing uniform. He was later confirmed to have died after being arrested at a petrol station.

Some of the victims were known to the gunman, while others were randomly targeted.

In an update on Monday, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Chief Superintendent Chris Leather said he believed there may still be the remains of victims in homes which were burned to the ground.

He added there may be others who were injured during the shooting spree, but this has not been confirmed.

There are 16 crime scenes around central and northern Nova Scotia, and authorities say they are “relatively confident” they have identified all locations.

One of the victims was 23-year-old Heidi Stevenson, a veteran of the RCMP and a married mother of two.

Heidi Stevenson, from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, was killed in a shooting in Nova Scotia. Pic: RCMP

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Heidi Stevenson, from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, was killed in the shooting. Pic: RCMP

“Heidi answered the call of duty and lost her life while protecting those she served,” said Nova Scotia RCMP Commanding Officer, Assistant Commissioner Lee Bergerman, in a Facebook post.

A second officer was injured but is said to be recovering at home.

Also among those killed were a family of three, Jolene Oliver, Aaron Friar and their 17-year-old daughter Emily Tuck.

Jolene Oliver (middle), Emily Tuck and Aaron Tuck. Pic: GoFundMe

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Jolene Oliver (middle), Emily Tuck and Aaron Tuck. Pic: GoFundMe

A GoFundMe page set up for the family said Emily and her father enjoyed fixing vehicles together, while Ms Oliver “laughed lots” and “enjoyed the beauty in life”.

School teacher Lisa McCully was also killed in the shooting.

Lisa McCully was a school teacher. Pic: Facebook

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Lisa McCully was a school teacher. Pic: Facebook

Confirming her death, Nova Scotia Teachers Union President President Paul Wozney said. “Our hearts are broken along with those of her colleagues and students at Debert Elementary.”

Ms McCully’s childhood friend, Kelly O’Blenis, wrote on Facebook that she was an “incredible human” and described the killings as “senseless”.

Two healthcare workers, licensed practical nurse Heather O’Brien and continuing care assistant Kristen Beaton, were also killed, according to healthcare company Von Canada.

Ms O’Brien’s daughter, Darcy Dobson, paid tribute in a Facebook post, writing: “I want everyone to remember how kind she was. How much she loved being a nurse. The way her eyes sparkled when she talked to her grandchildren and the way she just LOVED Christmas.”

Heather O'Brien (left) was a practical nurse. Pic: Darcy Dobson

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Heather O’Brien (left) was a practical nurse. Pic: Darcy Dobson

She added: “At 9:59 am she sent her last text message to our family group chat. By 10:15 she was gone.”

Authorities said Wortman’s use of a bogus police vehicle and uniform had likely contributed to his ability to target people and drive around without being detected.

“That fact that this individual had a uniform and a police car at his disposal certainly speaks to it not being a random act,” Mr Leather said, although he did not comment on a motive for the killings.

The rampage began in the rural town of Portapique, where residents were told to lock their doors and stay in their basements overnight.

Several bodies were found inside and outside a house on Portapique Beach Road, the street where Wortman lived, authorities said.

Bodies were later found at several other locations within about a 30-mile area of the neighbourhood.

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