By Andrew Duffy
of Ottawa Citizen
Soldier, gunman who died in Ottawa rampage identified as Cpl. Nathan Cirillo.
Suspect, reportedly Canadian born Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, killed in Centre Block shootout.
Three victims treated at Ottawa Hospital Civic campus
A terrorist struck at the heart of the nation Wednesday, gunning down a sentry at the National War Memorial and wreaking havoc on Parliament Hill where the marble and stone halls echoed with gunfire and ran with blood. The gunman was shot and killed near the Library of Parliament, reportedly by House of Commons Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers, a former RCMP officer, and the man responsible for security on the Hill.
It appears the gunman walked right past the Centre Block’s Reading Room, where Prime Minister Stephen Harper was meeting with his caucus Wednesday morning.
Citing U.S. intelligence sources, CBS identified the attacker as Canadian-born Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, 32. That had not been independently confirmed. The fatal showdown in Centre Block followed the cold-blooded slaying of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo standing guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, a short distance away from Parliament Hill. That soldier, a reservist with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada, based in Hamilton, was shot at close range in front of the war memorial at 9:52 a.m. He was rushed to the Ottawa Hospital’s Civic Campus, but did not survive his injuries.It was unclear whether the gunman
was acting alone or was joined in his attack by others, but after the attack, the gunman fled toward Parliament Hill, according to witness accounts.
Parliament Hill and large swaths of downtown Ottawa went into lockdown as Ottawa police, the RCMP and special forces pursued confusing and unconfirmed reports of gunshots near the Rideau Centre and the Chateau Laurier.
At one point, officials believed at least three gunmen could be involved. It was still unclear by late afternoon Wednesday just how many people took part in the attack, but police said there had been no shooting near the downtown mall after all. City Hall, the Ottawa courthouse, Lisgar Collegiate and the University of Ottawa were among the many institutions that went into emergency lockdown.
The NHL postponed an Ottawa Senators game scheduled for Wednesday night, and the National Arts Centre cancelled two performances. Inside Parliament Hill, a gunman —
likely the same one who shot the National War Memorial sentry — stormed into Centre Block where the NDP and Conservative caucuses had convened for 9:15 a.m. meetings. The Liberal caucus was meeting in the basement.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper was with his party’s caucus when the gunman
entered the second floor of Centre Block, but was escorted to safety by his RCMP
security team. Across the hall, in the NDP caucus room, about 100 MPs and aides piled
tables and chairs in front of the doors after they heard gunshots crash through Centre Block just after 10 a.m.“A series of gunshots rang out and
we realized they were right on the other side of the door,” NDP MP Charlie Angus told the Citizen.Parliament Hill security officers rushed politicians out of the building, Liberal MP Marc Garneau among them. “You could smell the gunpowder,” he said. Security officers pursued the gunman in the Hall of Honour, near the Library of Parliament, and exchanged a hail of gunfire. One guard was wounded in the confrontation that killed the terrorist.
It’s believed Vickers fired the shots that killed him.“I am safe and profoundly grateful
to Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers and our security forces for selfless act of keeping us safe,” Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino said on Twitter. Justice Minister Peter MacKay offered similar praise: “Thank God for Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers and our Canadian security forces.” The injured guard was taken to The Ottawa Hospital with a non-life threatening leg injury. The Ottawa Hospital also treated two other people injured in the incident.
The attack was the most serious security breach of Parliament Hill since 1966, when an unhinged man, Paul Chartier, tried to blow up 10 sticks of dynamite on the floor of the House of Commons. He killed only himself when the explosives detonated before he could throw them. Wednesday’s shooting at the National War Memorial represents the second time this week that a Canadian soldier has come under attack on national soil. On Monday, 25-year-old Martin Rouleau, of Saint-Jean-sur-Richeleau, southeast of Montreal, used his car to assault two Canadian soldiers, one of whom later died of his wounds. Rouleau was a convert to Islam whose online postings had become so radical that the RCMP confiscated his passport. The attacks could be a reaction from homegrown extremists to the federal government’s decision to join the international coalition battling the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) in the Middle East. Parliament approved a motion to launch a combat mission against ISIL earlier this month. “Canada will not be terrorized or intimidated,” senior Conservative cabinet minister Jason Kenney declared in a Twitter message.
Wednesday’s attack began on the ground of the National War Memorial, dedicated to all of those who have fought and died for this country. Witnesses said the long-haired gunman, dressed in a dark hoodie, blue jeans and wrapped in a scarf, opened fire on one of the two guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The gunman used a long rifle of some kind, possibly a shotgun.