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

Just Posted

Bill passes to make Sept. 30 National Day for Truth and Reconciliation statutory holiday

Residential school survivor Phyllis Webstad and CRD Area F director Joan Sorley were in Ottawa for the vote

Wally Webber elected to fourth term as Nuxalk Chief Councilor

Webber took the win with 174 votes out of a total of 389

Bella Coola expected to be hottest spot in B.C. today

Temperatures are predicted to rise to 18 C

B.C. minister says rural internet is ‘railroad of the 21st century’

Jinny Sims talks details about the $50-million provincial and possible $750-million federal funds

IT’S OFFICIAL: Mt. Timothy sale complete

New owners looking toward year-round mountain resort facility

Stolen Bentley spotted going wrong way down highway found in Summerland

The car has been recorded going the wrong way on the Coquihalla, found two days later

1,300 cruise ship passengers rescued by helicopter amid storm off Norway’s coast

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances

B.C. university to offer first graduate program on mindfulness in Canada

University of the Fraser Valley says the mostly-online program focuses on self-care and well being

Province announces $18.6 million for B.C. Search and Rescue

The funding, spread over three years, to pay for operations, equipment, and training

Late-season wave of the flu makes its round in B.C.

BC Centre for Disease Control reported 50 per cent jump in flu cases in first weeks of March

Tofino’s housing crisis causing some to seek shelter at the local hospital

Tofino’s housing crisis is pushing the town’s ‘hidden homeless’ population into the forefront.

Sentencing judge in Broncos crash calls for carnage on highways to end

Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years

2 fires in Victoria caused by cigarettes prompts warning from deputy fire chief

Two separate fires caused by cigarette butts were avoidable

‘Families torn apart:’ Truck driver in fatal Broncos crash gets 8-year sentence

Judge Inez Cardinal told court in Melfort, Sask., that Sidhu’s remorse and guilty plea were mitigating factors

Most Read