Thursday, October 23, 2014

Gunman Fatally Shoots Soldier at Ottawa War Memorial, Opens Fire in Canadian Parliament

A gunman opened fire on a Canadian soldier who was on sentry duty at a War memorial in Canada's capital on Wednesday before advancing to the Parliament building where the assailant was shot and killed by the sergeant-at-arms in an exchange of gunfire.

According to the CBC, witnesses reported a gunman who approached the War Memorial from the west at 9:50 AM local time and fired twice at 24 year old Cpl Nathan Cirillo, striking him in the abdomen and firing a round at another soldier stationed at the memorial, but missing. Although Cirillo and the other soldier had rifles at the time, they were reportedly inert and used for ceremonial purposes. Cirillo would later die of his injuries, leaving behind a five year old son.

As witnesses and paramedics attempted to revive Cirillo, the gunman left the area in a beige car with the license plates removed, abandoning it several blocks from the parliament building and making his way there on foot. After getting through a checkpoint and commandeering a government vehicle, the gunman makes his way into Parliament's Centre Block.

Upon making his way inside the parliament building, members of parliament barricaded themselves in their offices as the gunman shot at sergeant-at-arms Kevin Vickers, a veteran former Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer from New Brunswick. Vickers returned fire with his sidearm, killing the gunman and stopping his rampage before he could get any further inside the parliament building.

Video released by a Toronto Globe and Mail reporter on the scene as events unfolded show officers advancing down a marble corridor with their weapons drawn. The camera jostles as a single shot rings out- believed to be from the assailant's lever-action .30-30 rifle- followed by a dozen or so shots fired in rapid succession [which could easily be from Vickers 9mm- NANESB!] echo through the corridors amid shouting and additional officers rushing towards the sound of gunfire.

The gunman has been identified by the RCMP as a 32 year old convert to Islam named Michael Zehaf-Bibeau. The weapon used was a lever-action Winchester hunting rifle common in both Canada and the USA, but since Zehaf-Bibeau reportedly had a criminal record, investigators are looking into how he obtained the gun.

Sadly, Cpl Cirillo wasn't the first Canadian soldier killed by a radicalized islamist in eastern Canada this week. The Ottawa shooting comes just days after two Canadian soldiers were struck by a hit and run driver outside of Montreal. The driver, a 25 year old Québécois convert to radical islam named Martin Coutere-Rouleau reportedly waited for more than two hours in the parking lot of a building that housed a number of government and civilian agencies in St Jean sur Richelieu before striking at least two soldiers with his 2000 Nissan Altima. Coutere-Rouleau was later shot and killed by police during a high speed chase.

Both Coutere-Rouleau and Zehaf-Bibeau were reportedly under scrutiny from Canada's CSIS intelligence service as the two of them adorned their social media pages with imagery supporting the ISIS Islamic group and expressing a desire to travel to Syria to fight alongside the Islamic state. Couture-Rouleau's passport was seized in June, but since he hadn't broken any Canadian laws the RCMP and Sûreté du Québec couldn't press charges. One of the soldiers, identified as 53 year old Patrice Vincent, later died of his injuries after being struck by Coutere-Rouleau's Nissan.

Prime minister Stephen Harper, who had recently pledged to support Kurdish and Iraqi forces fighting the Islamic State, described both the Ottawa and St Jean sur Richelieu attacks as terrorism when addressing the nation on TV on Wednesday.

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