Parliamentary Journalist Richard Madan with CTV National News based in Ottawa sent out this picture on Twitter from Parliament Hill that police had their weapons drawn this morning after shots were fired.

Parliamentary Journalist Richard Madan with CTV National News based in Ottawa sent out this picture on Twitter from Parliament Hill that police had their weapons drawn this morning after shots were fired.

Soldier killed in Parliament Hill siege

Soldier dead, two others injured in Parliament Hill siege; gunman dead

By Bruce Cheadle, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA – A gunman turned the nation’s capital into an armed camp Wednesday after he fatally shot an honour guard at “point-blank” range at the National War Memorial before setting his sights on Parliament Hill.

The extraordinary scene ended with the assailant shot dead in the polished marble halls of Parliament’s Centre Block, apparently by the sergeant-at-arms of the House of Commons, while SWAT teams combed the busy parliamentary precinct in an ultimately fruitless search for accomplices.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper capped the day’s stunning events with a rare live televised address, calling the tragedy a terrorist attack that he said would only redouble Canada’s efforts to combat fight terrorism at home and abroad.

Slain reservist Cpl. Nathan Cirillo of Hamilton, Ont., is the second member of the Armed Forces this week to die in an apparently random, murderous attack, just as Canadian war planes are being deployed to Iraq.

Two Canadian soldiers were run over — one of them fatally — in Quebec on Monday by a man with jihadist sympathies.

The slain shooter was identified as Michael Zehaf Bibeau, born in 1982 and known to police in Montreal and Vancouver.

“It’s way too early to be able to determine a motive,” Gilles Michaud, the assistant commissioner of the RCMP, said at a news conference in Ottawa while police were still clearing downtown buildings.

But the prime minister, who was in the Centre Block addressing a Conservative caucus meeting when the attack began just outside the door, later took to the national airwaves to unequivocally characterize the shooter’s true motives.

“Fellow Canadians, in the days to come we will learn more about the terrorist and any accomplices he may have had,” Harper said.

“But this week’s events are a grim reminder that Canada is not immune to the types of terrorist attacks we have seen elsewhere around the world.”

Attacks on Canadian security personnel and governing institutions, he said, are “by their very nature, attacks on our country, on our values, on our society, on us Canadians as a free and democratic people who embrace human dignity for all.”

Tony Zobl, 35, witnessed Cirillo being gunned down at the War Memorial from his fourth-floor office window directly above the monument, just before 10 a.m. Wednesday.

“I looked out the window and saw a shooter — a man dressed all in black with a kerchief over his nose and mouth and something over his head as well — holding a rifle and shooting an honour guard in front of the Cenotaph, point blank, twice,” Zobl told The Canadian Press.

“It looked like the honour guard was trying to reach for the barrel of the gun,” he continued. “The honour guard dropped to the ground and the shooter kind of raised his arms in triumph holding the rifle.”

Zobl said the shooter then ran up the street toward Parliament Hill.

It was only earlier this year that the government extended the season for live guards at the monument through the November Remembrance Day ceremonies. In the past, the honour guard has stood down after Labour Day.

The scene on Parliament Hill was frantic.

Wednesday morning is the busiest day of the week on the Hill, with MPs and senators of all major parties gathering in the Centre Block for meetings.

Given the time and day, it was remarkable only four persons were admitted to hospital. One was Cirillo, and the other three were all released Wednesday evening. Only one had a minor gunshot wound.

Witnesses and video suggest a hail of gunfire erupted in the marbled Hall of Honour that bisects the building directly beneath the Peace Tower.

Kevin Vickers, better known to political wonks as the ceremonially garbed sergeant-at-arms carrying the mace to open the Commons each day, was reported by multiple sources as the person who shot the gunman.

Construction worker Scott Walsh said he was in a manhole near the East Block building, between the memorial and the Centre Block, when he heard two gunshots echo down the street.

In the ensuing panic, people around him started screaming, including a woman pushing a child in a stroller.

He said she started to run, so he went to help her.

That’s when he saw a man with long black hair, his face covered by a white scarf with decals on it and wearing a black jacket.

“He had a double-barrelled shotgun, he was about five feet from me, and he ran right beside us, ran past the woman with the stroller and child,” he said.

The gunman then hijacked a car at gunpoint, he said, and drove it up towards the Peace Tower.

Greta Levy, a press secretary for the NDP, said she had just left the building when she saw the gunman walk up the paved ramp under the tower.

“None of us reacted at first but then we heard a security guard yelling, ‘There’s a gun, get down, get down, there’s a gun,'” Levy said.

“And I looked up, as did the woman I was with, and saw a man that I would describe as young, 20s-30s, coming up the ramp as though to go in the main doors of Centre Block under the Peace Tower.”

The incident paralyzed the entire downtown core for hours, from the adjacent U.S. embassy to the University of Ottawa several city blocks to the south.

Sources say police at one point worried there could be up to five assailants, and they combed rooftops of nearby buildings in addition to the full lockdown.

The incident shattered the sleepy tenor of a capital that has been remarkably immune from attack through more than a decade of tumultuous overseas wars.

“I feared this day would come, and my prayers are with the fallen soldier,” senior cabinet minister Tony Clement posted on Twitter while locked in the caucus room. “Hug your fam.”

“It’s a stomach-turning, shocking day for all Canadians,” Marc Garneau, a former Forces member and now Liberal foreign affairs critic, said in an interview.

The Hill is known as an open public space that’s used for everything from mass yoga classes to hazy pot-legalization demonstrations.

“I think the intention was to try to make Parliament not look like Fort Knox,” said Garneau. “But we’ve crossed a river today.”

Green party Leader Elizabeth May urged restraint.

“Today is not a day that ‘changes everything,'” May said in a statement. “It is a day of tragedy. We must ensure we keep our responses proportionate to whatever threat remains.”

Military bases have been put on alert and soldiers have been cautioned about wearing uniforms in public.

In Toronto, the country’s largest city, extra police where put on the streets and public buildings were on alert.

Jan Lugtenborg, a tourist from the Netherlands, was at the War Memorial and able to describe the shooter in detail.

“We heard four shots,” said Lugtenborg.

“You don’t expect that when you’re on holiday in Canada.”

— With files from Jennifer Ditchburn, Steve Rennie, Jim Bronskill, Murray Brewster, Stephanie Levitz, Joan Bryden, Andy Blatchford and Lina Dib

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A black sedan, white SUV, red pickup truck and black hatchback were all involved in a four-vehicle collision at Hodgins Avenue and Yale Road on Friday, Feb. 26, 2021. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
UPDATE w/PHOTOS: No one injured in four-vehicle collision in Chilliwack

Emergency responders on the scene at Yale and Hodgins before 9 a.m. on Friday

The Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit of British Columbia’s (CFSEU-BC) Uniform Gang Enforcement Team (UGET) has arrested a man who was on the run for nearly a decade. (File photo)
9-year search for international drug trafficking suspect ends with arrest at YVR

Khamla Wong, charged in 2012, taken into custody Feb. 24 by BC-CFSEU

The Great Bear Snowshed on the Coquihalla Highway (Highway 5) in British Columbia. Truck driver Roy McCormack testified in BC Supreme Court in Chilliwack on Feb. 25, 2021 that his brakes started smoking in about this location, and soon after he lost all braking, which led to a multi-vehicle crash further down the road on Aug. 5, 2016. (GoogleMaps)
Truck driver charged with criminal negligence in Coquihalla crash is accused of ignoring smoking brakes

Just before crashing the smoking truck was seen entering Zopkios brake check and leaving shortly after

Shaelene Keeler Bell. (Facebook)
Candlelight vigil Saturday for missing Chilliwack mother

Virtual event to ‘spread some light’ for 23-year-old Shaelene Bell of Chilliwack

Becky Miller, and her daughters Aurora, 5, and Alice, 2, getting the truck ready to help the St. Paul’s Dump Runners fundraiser Feb. 27, 28, March 1 and 2. (Becky Miller)
St. Paul’s Dump Runners of Chilliwack ready to pick up odds and ends for a cause

For a donation to the Nicaragua Feed the Children Fund volunteers haul stuff to the dump

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry updates B.C.’s COVID-19 situation at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
B.C. reports 10 additional deaths, 395 new COVID-19 cases

The majority of new coronavirus infections were in the Fraser Health region

Several BC Ferries sailings are cancelled Friday morning due to adverse weather. (Black Press Media File)
Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay ferry sailing cancelled due to high winds, sea state

Adverse weather causes cancellations across several BC Ferries routes

The BC Prosecution Service announced last year that it was appointing lawyer Marilyn Sandford as a special prosecutor to review the case, following media inquiries about disclosure issues linked to a pathologist involved in the matter. (Black Press Media files)
Possible miscarriage of justice in B.C. woman’s conviction in toddler drowning: prosecutor

Tammy Bouvette was originally charged with second-degree murder but pleaded guilty in 2013 to the lesser charge

A kid in elementary school wearing a face mask amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Metro Creative)
Union asks why an elementary school mask rule wouldn’t work in B.C. if it does elsewhere

B.C. education minister announced expansion of mask-wearing rules in middle, high school but not elementary students

Head of internal medicine at Chilliwack General Hospital Dr. Shari Sajjadi talks about the positive feedback hospital staff have received over this last year in the latest YouTube video about COVID-19 created in partnership with the Chilliwack Division of Family Practice and the Chilliwack Economic Recovery Network. (YouTube)
VIDEO: Dr. Shari Sajjadi says a simple ‘thank you’ helps keep up spirits of healthcare workers

‘We are so thankful for the positive feedback we are getting from our patients’

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

A pharmacist prepares a COVID-19 vaccine at Village Green Retirement Campus in Federal Way on Jan. 26. (Olivia Sullivan/Sound Publishing)
Canada approves use of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccine

The country joins more than a dozen others in giving the shot the green light

A new survey has found that virtual visits are British Columbian’s preferred way to see the doctor amid the COVID-19 pandemic. (Unsplash)
Majority of British Columbians now prefer routine virtual doctor’s visits: study

More than 82% feel virtual health options reduce wait times, 64% think they lead to better health

Carolyn Howe, a kindergarten teacher and vice president of the Greater Victoria Teachers’ Association, says educators are feeling the strain of the COVID-19 pandemic and the influx of pressure that comes with it. (Nina Grossman/News Staff)
Stress leave, tears and insomnia: B.C. teachers feel the strain of COVID-19

Teachers still adjusting to mask and cleaning rules, pressures from outside and within

Most Read