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Cpl. Nathan Cirillo killed in Ottawa remembered as ‘proud soldier’

WATCH ABOVE: The victim in the shooting in Ottawa was 24-year-old Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, a reservist standing on guard at the War Memorial. Mike Le Couteur has that story.

TORONTO – The soldier fatally shot while standing guard at the National War Memorial in Ottawa Wednesday morning is being remembered as a “proud soldier” and father to a young son.

Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, 24, was shot after a gunman opened fire in the nation’s capital just before 10 a.m. He later succumbed to his injuries in hospital.

A Hamilton, Ont. resident Carmela Giglia said she is a family friend of the Cirillos and had known Nathan since he was two years old.

READ MORE: What we know about suspected shooter Michael Zehaf-Bibeau

“I actually worked with the mother for ten years in a restaurant. She had three beautiful children, loved her children,” said Giglia. “He was so proud to be a soldier, and she spoke so highly of him. He loved it. And to die this way is just horrible.”

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The chaotic events on Parliament Hill began after a man with a rifle shot Cpl. Cirillo at the War Memorial, before taking a car and driving to Centre Block. It’s been confirmed the shooter, identified as 32-year-old Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, was shot dead inside the building by the House of Commons sergeant-at-arms Kevin Vickers and RCMP.

WATCH: Carmela Giglia remembers Cpl. Nathan Cirillo

Ottawa has been left reeling by the terrifying events that unfolded leaving residents shaken, and looking for answers.

“It’s unfathomable. To lose your children before a parent is unimaginable to me,” said Giglia.

Cpl. Nathan Cirillo.
Cpl. Nathan Cirillo. via Twitter

Friends and family of Cirillo took to Facebook to express their grief at the loss of a young man and father.

WATCH: An impromptu memorial of flowers, letters, and well-wishes has formed at the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada barracks in Hamilton, Ontario.

“Can’t believe my cousin is gone !! Love you Nathen Cirillo. R I P.,” wrote David Cirillo, the soldier’s cousin.

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READ MORE: MPs, staffers, eyewitnesses describe the Ottawa shooting as it unfolded

Ontario NDP Leader Andrea Horwath, who also represents the riding of Hamilton-Centre, expressed her condolences, saying Cirillo served bravely with the city’s Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders.

“His family, my community of Hamilton, and our country have suffered a great loss today. We will remember him for his service,” she said in a statement.

“My heart breaks for the family, my heart breaks for the soldiers that knew him, my heart breaks for his son. It’s awful,” said Giglia.

Cpl. Nathan Cirillo pictured in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa.
Cpl. Nathan Cirillo pictured in front of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Ottawa. Courtesy of Hai Vu