MICHEL COMTE/AFP/Getty Images(OTTAWA, Ontario) — A gunman on Wednesday fatally shot a Canadian soldier in an attack near the Parliament that led to building lockdowns and the evacuation of the country’s prime minister.
The gunman, who was shot and killed inside the Parliament building, has been identified as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a Canadian national. The soldier who was killed was Cpl. Nathan Cirillo.
Ottawa police first learned of the attacks after receiving multiple 911 calls at 9:52 a.m. about a shooting at the National War Memorial. Gunfire was later reported inside the Parliament building, less than 400 yards away. The Parliament building was put into lockdown as government officials hid in their offices while police searched the sprawling building.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper made a televised statement to the nation Wednesday evening about the incident. “Today was without question a difficult day,” he said, noting two attacks against the country this week.
“In the days to come we will learn more about the terrorist and any accomplices,” he added. Harper said the government would work to “keep Canada safe and fight against terrorist organizations that are brutalizing so many people around the world in the hope of keeping their savagery from reaching our shores.”
Canada had already raised its national terrorism alert level Wednesday, following an incident Monday in which a Canadian soldier was killed in a hit-and-run by a man suspected to have been a radicalized jihadist.
Officials are investigating any terrorist ties to the suspect in Wednesday’s shooting.
Police initially believed that they were searching for more than one shooter, but they later said that it was too soon to determine whether or not the gunman acted alone.
“Today is a sad and tragic day for our city and our country,” Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said.
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Civic Hospital in Ottawa received four patients, including the wounded soldier who later died of his injuries.
“Apart from first patient, they had minor, non-life-threatening injuries and remain in hospital at this time,” hospital spokeswoman Hazel Harding told ABC News.
One of the patients was a Parliamentary Security officer who had been shot in the leg when the gunman entered the building, but the hospital said that it was an “extremity gunshot wound” and is “quite stable.” Two others were brought to the hospital with unspecified injuries. All three were later released.
Witnesses told CTV they saw a man with long hair carrying a rifle at the war memorial and heard four shots fired at the soldier, who was guarding Canada’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.
A witness told Canada’s CBC the gunman then ran the short distance to Canada’s Parliament, jumped a wall, stopped a car at gunpoint and hijacked it. The gunman drove the car to the Centre Block on Parliament Hill where senior government leaders have their offices.
A CBC reporter inside the Canadian Parliament reported chaos there, hearing lots of gunshots. A lawmaker tweeted more than 30 shots were heard inside Parliament’s Center Block.
The gunman was shot dead by the Parliament’s Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers.
All military bases in Canada have been put on lockdown in response to the events in Ottawa, CTV reported. The U.S. Embassy in Ottawa recently followed suit. A safety perimeter in downtown Ottawa was lifted Wednesday evening.
Senior FBI and Department of Homeland Security officials told ABC News they are closely monitoring the situation. The White House said President Obama has been briefed and has spoken to Harper over the phone.
According to a readout of the call, Obama condemned the attack and “reaffirmed the close friendship and alliance between our people.” The president also offered Canada any assistance it needed in responding to the attack.
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