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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.