A soldier was killed during a shooting at Canada’s National War Memorial on Wednesday morning, which was followed quickly by additional gunfire inside the nearby Parliament, according to police.
A gunman has also been killed, Ottawa police said. In the hours after the shooting, there were still concerns about possible additional shooters, as police continued to scour the area and had not arrested anyone, authorities said. “This is an ongoing operation,” Charles Bordeleau, Ottawa’s police chief, had said during a news conference Wednesday afternoon.
The gunman has been tentatively identified as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a 32-year-old man from Montreal, according to two U.S. law enforcement officials. The FBI was working with Canadian authorities Wednesday to determine if this was an act of terrorism.
Zehaf-Bibeau was recently designated a “high-risk traveler” by the government and had his passport seized, the Globe and Mail reported.
Bordeleau would not say Wednesday afternoon if police believed anyone else was involved, instead saying that they would continue to methodically search Parliament Hill. The lockdown around Parliament continued well into Wednesday evening, as authorities continued to ask people around Parliament Hill to stay off of the streets.
Ottawa police said shortly before 8:30 p.m. that they had lifted the safety perimeter that had been in place downtown.
“The ongoing police investigation in the downtown core has determined that there no longer exists a threat to public safety in the area,” the Ottawa Police Service said in a statement.
Police said authorities remained on Parliament Hill, where the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are investigating the shooting, and the hill remains off-limits to the public.
The soldier killed Wednesday has been identified by the Globe and Mail and other Canadian media outlets as Cpl. Nathan Cirillo.
After opening fire at the memorial, Zehaf-Bibeau moved into the Parliament building and continued firing shots, police say. Members of Parliament reported hearing dozens of shots inside the building before the gunman was stopped. Craig Scott, a member of Parliament, credited the sergeant-at-arms with stopping the attack:
MPs and Hill staff owe their safety, even lives, to Sergeant at Arms Kevin Vickers who shot attacker just outside the MPs’ caucus rooms.
— Craig Scott (@CraigScottNDP) October 22, 2014
The gunfire rocked the core of Canada’s government and set off a chaotic scene across downtown Ottawa. The Parliament was locked down, people were ordered to shelter in place and scores of police officers fanned out over multiple blocks. Much remained unknown in the hours after the shooting, as confusion continued about where shots were fired, the number of suspected shooters and the status of the soldier.
Ottawa police confirmed the shootings occurred at the War Memorial and on Parliament Hill. They had also initially said there was a shooting incident near the Rideau Centre, a mall in the same area, but they later said no shooting had occurred at this mall. “Today is a sad and tragic day for our city and our country,” Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson said during the news conference.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police asked people in downtown Ottawa to “stay away from windows and off roofs” Wednesday because of the situation on Parliament Hill. Inside the Parliament building, people were ordered to shelter in place as police rushed to secure the area. Politicians inside Parliament had provided updates from the lockdown, reporting relatively soon after the gunfire broke out that a lone shooter had been killed:
Gunman at Parliament’s Centre Block has been shot and killed — Bernard Trottier (@btrottier) October 22, 2014
Shots fired at the HoC…lone gunman is deceased. We are ok. — Bob Zimmer MP (@bobzimmermp) October 22, 2014
Ottawa Hospital treated and released three people injured in the shooting, hospital spokeswoman Hazel Harding said Wednesday. Not all of the injuries sustained by the other three people were gunshot wounds, she said.
The Associated Press reported that a police spokesman said that authorities were seeking two other gunmen, but additional details regarding these other potential suspects were not immediately available, and police did not confirm that they had other suspects. In the hours after shooting incidents, there are frequently reports suggesting multiple shooters, but those reports are often untrue.
Canada has recently heightened its terrorism alert and, earlier this week, a soldier there was killed in a hit-and-run that authorities said was an act of terrorism. But Wednesday’s shooting “caught us by surprise,” Gilles Michaud, assistant commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, said during the news conference.
Tony Clement, a member of the Parliament, tweeted that “at least 30 shots” were heard during a meeting, but it is unclear if these shots were fired inside or outside the building.
Shots fired during caucus meeting. at least 30 shots. MPs piled out. I’m safe with 2 colleagues but we’re still at risk… — Tony Clement (@TonyclementCPC) October 22, 2014
Clement also tweeted Wednesday morning that he and others were still “awaiting rescue” inside Centre Block, the building that is home to the Canadian Senate, House of Commons and Library of Parliament. A spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper told the Associated Press that Harper, who had been in the building when the gunshots occurred, was safe and had left Parliament Hill.
An e-mail sent to Harper’s staff ordered them to shelter in place due to “active shooters in the Parliament Hill vicinity.”
U.S. officials are in “close touch” with their Canadian counterparts in the wake of shootings in downtown Ottawa, Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, said Wednesday.
The U.S. Embassy in Ottawa has been locked down as a result of the shooting. In addition, an Ottawa Senators hockey game against the visiting Toronto Maple Leafs — scheduled for 7 p.m. at a stadium about 30 minutes away from the scene of the shootings — has been postponed, the National Hockey League announced.
The shooting comes two days after a Canadian soldier was killed in a hit-and-run that authorities said was an act of terrorism, with the Quebec police saying that it was a deliberate attack on a uniformed soldier.
The driver, named by authorities as Martin Couture-Rouleau, 25, was later killed by police following a high-speed chase.
Police said Couture-Rouleau had been on a list of people being monitored by authorities as part of ongoing national security investigations. They said his passport was seized in June when he was prevented from boarding a commercial airliner to travel to Turkey, a route frequently traveled by militant recruits to Syria, but they did not have sufficient cause to arrest him at that time.
Canada raised its national terrorism alert to medium after the hit-and-run. A government spokesman said the change was due to the possibility of a person or group committing an attack but not because of any specific threat.
Adam Goldman, Katie Zezima and Karen DeYoung contributed to this report.
[This post is being continuously updated with new information. First published: 10:51 a.m.]