Parliament Hill shooting: Soldier killed, one gunman dead; both now identified

Parliament Hill shooting: Soldier killed, one gunman dead; both now identified

Chaos broke out in downtown Ottawa Wednesday and a Canadian soldier was killed following a series of shootings on and around Parliament Hill.

Nathan Cirillo (via Facebook)
Nathan Cirillo (via Facebook)

The mayhem started when a uniformed soldier standing guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier was shot and wounded by an assailant who is believed to have hopped out of a Toyota Corolla. CPR was performed on the soldier, who the Globe and Mail later identified as Corporal Nathan Cirillo, 24, and he was transported to hospital by ambulance. CBC News and the Globe report that the soldier was a reservist who served in Hamilton from the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada.

His death was confirmed at 1:45 p.m. by the Ottawa PoliceCanada's Minister of Employment and Social Development Jason Kenney tweeted his condolences to the family earlier in the afternoon.

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Gunfire later broke out inside Parliament Hill's Centre Block, where one gunman was confirmed killed, reportedly by House of Commons Sgt.-at-Arms Kevin Vickers. Shots were fired outside the room where Prime Minister Stephen Harper was addressing legislators, Reuters reports.

A reporter with the Globe and Mail captured the moment in this gripping video:

The gunman was later identified as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, in reports by CBS News and CBC News, which confirmed the dead shooting suspect's identity, saying he was a Canadian born in 1982 and that he possessed a criminal record in Quebec "dating back 10 years on some drug-related charges" and a criminal record in B.C. as well. An image of Zehaf-Bibeau was first posted on a Twitter account associated with the Islamic State militant group, but the account has since been suspended. The Globe and Mail and other media outlets reported that he had his passport revoked in recent months and that he had been known to authorities.

Police initially believed there were "numerous" shooters involved, but on Thursday morning the RCMP claimed that Zehaf-Bibeau was the only gunman.

There were initial reports claiming the shooting continued near the Rideau Centre Mall, but police later stated those reports were false. Several embassies and legislative buildings around the country bolstered their security in the wake of the violence.

CBC News reports that all military bases in Canada are currently on heightened security, in the interest of the safety of the men and women working at them. In addition, some military officials are warning soldiers to stay out of uniform whenever they are off duty.

Buildings throughout Ottawa's downtown core are also under lockdown.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper is safe, though he has cancelled a planned Toronto meeting with Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, who was to be named an honourary Canadian citizen.

Harper spoke from an undisclosed location in Ottawa in a nationally televised address Wednesday night, offering condolences to the family of Cpl. Cirillo, who he said was "murdered in cold blood" in a "brutal and violent" shooting.

Harper connected the day's devastating events to the Canadian mission against the Islamic State militant group, referring to "terror attacks on Canada" and saying that "Canada will never be intimidated"  and that the country will provide "no safe haven" for those responsible for the violent acts.

"Tonight, we also pray for the speedy recovery of the others injured in these despicable attacks," said Harper.

On the security question, he said the shootings would "lead us to strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts to keep Canadians safe at home."

Speaking from a different location in the same televised address, Opposition Leader Thomas Mulcair of the NDP said "The peace of our nation's capital was shattered," adding that "in this moment, Canadians are unified in grief" and are standing together. He pointed out that it is a time to stand in solidarity regardless of political affiliations.

"We will stand up. We will stand together. We will persevere and we will prevail," said Mulcair in a calm voice, adding that "tomorrow Canada will be strengthened."

Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau also made a statement Wednesday from Ottawa. In the prepared text of his remarks released by Maclean's, he said "I am deeply saddened by today’s horrific events here in Ottawa, and unreservedly condemn these brutal and heartless acts of violence."

He called the attack "unforgivable" and said his thoughts and prayers went out to the family and friends of the victims, including Cirillo, "who was standing dutifully, guarding one of our nation’s most sacred monuments." He thanked those "who rushed to the scene to confront the shooter, and help keep us safe" and said "in the days that follow, there will be questions, anger and perhaps confusion. This is natural, but we cannot let it get the better of us. Losing ourselves to fear and speculation is the intention of those who commit these heinous acts."

"They want us to forget ourselves. Instead, we should remember," Trudeau said. "We should remember who we are. We are a proud democracy, a welcoming and peaceful nation, and a country of open arms and open hearts. We are a nation of fairness, justice and the rule of law."

According to a release from the Ottawa Police, the "joint police operation" is still underway and no one is yet in custody.

At a joint press conference with the Ottawa Police and RCMP, Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson called Wednesday "a sad and tragic day for our city and our country," but he would "not let anger rule the day."

The Toronto Maple Leafs were in Ottawa to take on the Senators, but the NHL has cancelled the game.

U.S. President Barack Obama spoke with Prime Minister Harper by phone early in the afternoon, reaffirming the United States' support.

More photos from Parliament Hill:

Live updates from the shooting