22 Oct 2014

Ottawa shooting: gunman killed after shooting soldier dead

A gunman is shot down inside Canada’s parliament building after fatally shooting a soldier guarding the National War Memorial. The city remains under lockdown as police check for more assailants.

The incident began when a solider was shot at a war memorial. Police later confirmed that the victim had died.

Eyewitnesses reported a gunman running towards the parliament buildings, where some 30 more shots were fired.

Canadian MP Bernard Trottier tweeted that the gunman was shot by Sergeant-at-Arms Vickers. Police later said “one male suspect has also been confirmed deceased.”

Cabinet minister Tony Clement said the prime minister was addressing a meeting of his Conservative party MPs when an armed man burst into the building, running right past the door of the room they were in: “PM was addressing caucus, then a huge boom, followed by rat-a-tat shots.

“We all scattered. It was clearly right outside our caucus door”.

The prime minister’s office said that he “condemned this despicable attack” and reiterated the importance of the continued functioning of the government and our parliament.

Multiple assailants?

Social media reports suggested police were anxious that more than one assailant may be involved. “There are multiple assailants, I know it’s not a safe area. There’s a guy running round with a gun” tweeted John Ivison, quoting an unnamed policeman.

Josh Wingrove, a reporter at the scene, said that the Globe had been told by a police source that a second shooter had been shot too, however this has not been confirmed. An Ottawa hospital said it had received three patients, two in a stable condition.

Video courtesy The Globe and Mail

It later transpired that a third location, namely the Rideau Centre shopping mall, had been involved. Ottawa Police tweeted that “incidents occurred at National War Memorial, near the Rideau Centre and Parliament Hill this morning.” All three places are very near to each other in the centre of the city.

With their operation ongoing, police asked the public to stay out of the city centre and to send in any images of the suspects. Sports matches were suspended and roads closed.

Ottawa mayor Jim Watson put out a statement saying “As with all Ottowa residents and all Canadians, I am shocked and saddened by what has happened in the last hour here in the nation’s capital. Our thoughts and prayers are with those injured.”

The shooting comes two days after an Islamic convert, Martin Rouleau-Couture, killed one soldier and injured another in a hit-and-run car crash at a mall in Quebec.

Terror plot

Earlier this month a man described by police as the ringleader of a group accused of plotting terror attacks in Canada pleaded guilty to explosives possession with the intent to cause harm.

Hiva Mohammed Alizadeh, who was given a 24 year sentence, apologised in court and said he wanted to be deradicalised. Alizadeh went to a terrorist training camp in Afghanistan in 2009 and spent two months there, receiving training in the use of firearms and how to assemble remote-controlled improvised explosive devices.

A second man, X-ray technologist Misbahuddin Ahmed, is awaiting sentencing after he was found guilty in July of conspiring to knowingly facilitate a terrorist activity and participating in a terrorist group.

A video released by Islamic State (IS) militants on 23 September called for retribution against the coalition of countries fighting IS in northern Iraq and Syria.

The message, attributed to Abu Muhammad al-Adnani, instructed IS supporters to kill civilians and soldiers in countries including Australia, France, Canada and the USA: “Do not ask for anyone’s advice and do not seek anyone’s verdict. Kill the disbeliever whether he is civilian or military, for they have the same ruling. Both of them are disbelievers.”