Soldier killed in what Harper calls ‘terrorist’ attack in Ottawa
WATCH ABOVE: Prime Minister Harper addresses the nation following what he called a “terrorist” attack in Ottawa
TORONTO – One male suspect is dead after a Canadian soldier was shot and killed at the War Memorial in Ottawa Wednesday morning, according to Ottawa Police.
A lockdown that lasted into the evening ended at 8:25 p.m. ET, when the safety perimeter in downtown Ottawa was lifted. Police said there was no longer “a threat to public safety” in the downtown core, but police operations continued on Parliament Hill “and as such the Hill continues to be off limits to the public.”
Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was identified by his cousin, David, as the victim of the shooting in a Facebook post on Wednesday.
READ MORE: Soldier killed in Ottawa identified
Sources identified the suspected shooter as 32-year-old Michael Zehaf-Bibeau who was known to Canadian authorities. Global News has learned there is an investigation underway into his connections to Calgary.
Zehaf-Bibeau was reportedly recently designated a “high-risk traveller” and had his passport seized, according to The Globe and Mail.
The suspect in Monday’s terror-linked attack in Quebec, Martin Couture-Rouleau, also had his passport seized. He was suspected of being an extremist with possible terrorist links. Commissioner Bob Paulson said the passport was confiscated and he confirmed he was one of 90 suspected extremists being investigated by the RCMP.
In a statement to the nation, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said we will learn more about the “terrorist and any accomplices he may have had” in the days to come.
“This is a grim reminder that Canada is not immune to the types of terrorist attacks we have seen elsewhere around the world,” he said.
“Canada will never be intimidated. In fact, this will lead us to strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts and those of our national security agencies to take all necessary steps to identify and counter threats and keep Canada safe here at home.”
NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair spoke after Harper, saying Wednesday’s events have “only succeeded in drawing us closer, in making us stronger.”
Video: Full coverage after shots fired in Ottawa, including incredible Globe and Mail video showing an exchange of gun fire in Parliament Hill
“To the brave women and men of law enforcement, our security services and our Canadian Forces I want to say that your determination, your professionalism and indeed your heroism today will not soon be forgotten.”
Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau was last to address Canadians, saying Canada has “never been innocent” to the threats it faces.
“We have never let those threats shape us. … We will get answers to how and why this happened. They will be vital in preventing any future attack,” said Trudeau.
“And to our friends and fellow citizens in the Muslim community, Canadians know acts such as these committed in the name of Islam are an aberration of your faith. Continued mutual cooperation and respect will help prevent the influence of distorted ideological propaganda posing as religion. We will walk forward together, not apart.”
The Civic Campus of the Ottawa Hospital received four patients between 10 a.m.- 1p.m. ET, including the soldier who succumbed to his injuries. All three patients with minor injuries were discharged as of 6:20 p.m. ET.
Police were initially searching for at least one other suspect after multiple shots were also fired inside Parliament Hill, but would not provide details during an afternoon press conference.
“We’re still investigating an active situation…we’re in the process of clearing and securing Parliament Hill,” said Ottawa Police Chief Charles Bordeleau. “We’re asking the community to be vigilant…report any suspicious activity that they’re seeing.”
Witnesses are asked to call Ottawa Police at 613-236-1222, ext 5493. Those looking to report suspicious activity can call 613-236-1222 or 9-1-1. Those dealing with the events can also call Distress Centre Ottawa at 613-238-3311.
The Vancouver Police Department and British Columbia RCMP said Wednesday they are “working together to assist” the Ottawa Police and RCMP National Security Investigation.
Cirillo was a member of the Argyll and Sutherland Highanders of Canada, based in Hamilton, Ont.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends, and colleagues of the Argyll and Sutherland reservist who was killed today, serving his country,” said Hamilton Police Chief De Caire in a statement. “He is a part-time soldier, and a full-time Canadian.”
Some members of the Argylls of Canada – 91st Canadian Highlanders were known to be on tour guarding the War Memorial in the days before the shooting, according to the Hamilton Spectator.
Members of the military were told not to wear their uniforms outside of the Ottawa garrison or stop in public venues starting Thursday.
Contrary to earlier reports, Ottawa Police said no incident occurred near the Rideau Centre.
Police didn’t confirm how many suspects were armed, if any weapons had been retrieved, or whether the suspect was a Canadian citizen. When asked whether a Global News report that Canada’s domestic terror threat level had been elevated in recent days also applied to Parliament Hill, RCMP Assistant Commissioner Gilles Michaud declined to confirm that was the case.
“The threat level on Parliament Hill we’ve been operating at has been medium level for the past number of years, and that’s the level we’re operating at right now.”
According to a witness, a suspect with a gun seen at the War Memorial had black hair, was wearing a grey jacket and a scarf.
Witnesses reported gunfire inside the halls of Parliament, including a dozen shots outside the Parliament Hill library. A spokesperson from Cadillac Fairview, which owns the Rideau Centre, said the mall lockdown was lifted Wednesday afternoon.
Harper’s director of communications tweeted he was safe. Carl Vallée, press secretary for the Prime Minister’s Office, said Wednesday that the prime minister’s scheduled public events in Toronto were cancelled, including an honourary citizenship ceremony with Malala Yousafzai.
READ MORE: Canada under lockdown after Ottawa shootings
“Earlier today there was an attack at the National War Memorial and on Parliament Hill. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of those who were attacked,” said a statement from the PMO. “The police continue to do their important work and we are still gathering the facts.”
Harper spoke with U.S. President Barack Obama, who condemned the Quebec attack on Oct. 20 as well as Wednesday’s shooting in Ottawa. Obama called the shooting “tragic” and “offered any assistance Canada needed in responding to these attacks,” according to the White House.
Parliament Hill, City Hall and police stations were all on lockdown for most of Wednesday. The U.S. Embassy in Ottawa tweeted it was also in lockdown due to the shooting, and a spokesperson for Transport Canada confirmed that federal department and ministry buildings in Ottawa were ordered locked down.
RCMP advised anyone in the downtown core Wednesday to “stay away from windows and off roofs” due to the ongoing incident.
Witnesses on the scene at the War Memorial said they were in shock; a number of them performed CPR on the victim.
“I’m just trying to grasp it now,” said a male witness, who said soldiers were doing their “normal drill.”
“They were doing their march with their rifle in their hand and he [the suspect] came out on the right hand side here and fired a shot right at one of the soldiers. [The soldier] went down and the other went to his aid. The suspect took off across the street into a vehicle,” he said.
A second witness described the suspect as having long, dark hair and wearing long pants and a long jacket.
“I heard the first shot and I saw the guard go down, then three more shots and I was taking cover myself, so I wasn’t paying attention to everything that was going on,” said the witness. “He just took off.”
The incident comes just two days after two Canadian soldiers were run over–and one of them killed–in Quebec by a man with terrorist-linked ideology.
With files from Global News reporters Adam Frisk, Laura Stone, Vassy Kapelos and Shirlee Engel
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