A soldier was reportedly shot while guarding the War Memorial
Updated Wednesday 8:13 p.m. E.T.
Ottawa police said Wednesday afternoon that a member of the Canadian forces, identified by family members as Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, is dead after being shot during what appears to be an armed attack on Canada’s capital city.
The shooting took place at the National War Memorial just outside Parliament earlier in the day. One male suspect reportedly named Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was also confirmed dead, the police said.
“Today is a sad and tragic day for our city and country,” Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said Wednesday afternoon.
At least one gunman entered Parliament Wednesday morning about the time of the soldier’s shooting, witnesses told the Associated Press, while some later heard shots fired from within the building. Parliament was in session during the incident. A Globe and Mail reporter captured this footage of shots firing out as police swept Parliament following reports of the soldier’s shooting (warning: footage is violent but not graphic):
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was quickly evacuated from the scene, the Globe and Mail reports. Harper was scheduled to meet with Pakistani youth-education activist Malala Yousafzai in Toronto Wednesday, but that meeting has since been canceled.
Ottawa police at first said there were three separate shooting events, but later reduced that number to two.
Ottawa police said in a press conference Wednesday afternoon that the situation is “fluid” and “ongoing,” giving few details beyond what has already been reported. They have asked the public to remain “vigilant,” and are warning people in downtown Ottawa to stay away from windows and rooftops until the situation returns to normal. Those outside downtown Ottawa are being advised to stay away from the area.
In address to the nation Wednesday evening, the Prime Minister offered prayers to the grieving families, and said that the incident will strengthen the resolve of Canada and lead to a redoubling of efforts to fight terrorism around the globe. “Canada will never be intimidated,” Harper said.
President Barack Obama addressed the shooting following a meeting with aides on the Ebola epidemic. “Obviously we’re all shaken by it,” he told reporters. Obama said it was too early to determine motive, saying the U.S. does not yet know whether it was part of a coordinated plot or act of terrorism. Obama spoke on the phone Wednesday afternoon with Harper to express condolences to the family of the Canadian soldier who was killed and to the Canadian people as a whole.
Wednesday evening’s National Hockey League game scheduled to see the Ottawa Senators host the Toronto Maple Leafs was postponed in light of the incident, the NHL said Wednesday.
— With reporting by Zeke J. Miller