WATCH: As mourners continue to mourn the victim of the Ottawa shooting, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, police are still investigating what led Michael Zehaf-Bibeau to commit the horrific crime that cost Cirillo his life. Vassy Kapelos reports.
Years before his shooting rampage in the nation’s capital, Michael Joseph Zehaf-Bibeau told court he wanted, out of religious devotion, to go to jail to kick his crack cocaine addiction.
Zehaf-Bibeau was charged with robbery in Vancouver in late 2011 (he later pleaded guilty to the lesser charge of uttering threats).
During his bail hearing in 2011, Zehaf-Bibeau told the court he committed another robbery just so he could go to jail.
He also said he would like to receive therapy.
“I’m a crack addict and at the same time I’m a religious person,” said Zehaf-Bibeau during the hearing. “I want to sacrifice freedom and good things for a year maybe, so when I come out, I can appreciate things in life more and be clean.”
Zehaf-Bibeau suggested he did not want to be released, adding he is likely to end up back in custody if he is.
A psychiatric assessment found Zehaf-Bibeau fit to stand trial despite his unusual stated desire to go to jail.
The report filed by Dr. Mark Riley assessed Zehaf-Bibeau and found he was aware of his charge and the possible consequences of conviction.
The report also says Zehaf-Bibeau, who described himself as having been a “devoted Muslim” for seven years, believed he must spend time in jail as “a sacrifice to pay for his mistakes in the past” and that he hoped to be “a better man when he is eventually released.”
The report did not find any signs of a mental illness although Zehaf-Bibeau appeared to be making “an usual choice,” but that in itself wasn’t sufficient basis for a mental disorder.
Dr. Riley recommended Zehaf-Bibeau be presumed fit to stand trial.
He was eventually sentenced to one day in jail after having already served 66 days in custody.
Almost three years later, police believe it may have been a different kind of religious fervour that propelled Zehaf-Bibeau to Ottawa in search of a passport. When none was forthcoming, they say, he drove up to Ottawa’s War Memorial and shot a man to death before charging into Centre Block, where he was shot and killed.
With files from Robin Gill, John Daly and Anna Mehler Paperny