Currently, this is still an ongoing story and making headlines around the world, and especially in Canada. This morning there was a shooting inside the center block of Parliament Hill and another at the National War Memorial. For those who are not familiar with the buildings on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Canada, the center block contains the House of Commons where Canada’s federal politicians carry out the bulk of their interactions including such activities as the daily Question Period and voting on bills and new legislation. Shortly after 9:30 this morning, Cpl. Nathan Frank Cirillo was shot and killed while performing duties as part of the Ceremonial Guard watching over the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Later there were reports of shots heard within the center block of the Parliament Buildings. A timeline of the events can be found here on the CTV News website.
It is still unclear if there was only a single shooter or there were multiple people involved. A suspect was shot and killed during the event taking place within the center block building of Parliament Hill. The suspect killed on the scene has been identified as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, who has a criminal record in Quebec dating back some 10 years related to drug offences. People present during the shooting within center block report multiple shots being fired; possibly as many as 30 to 50 rounds being discharged. Subsequent to the shootings taking place, security protocols were implemented and put into place quickly by various police and security agencies. Many government buildings were placed into lockdown along with several schools and shopping centers. The University of Ottawa, which is a few minutes away from Parliament Hill by car, was also placed on lockdown. Currently, at 9:30 pm, there are still several buildings within the downtown core that are still under lockdown. Many of the buildings were taken out of lockdown status only to be put back in a short time later.
It is currently unclear what the motive of the shooter or shooters was and if this was an act of terrorism. There are some statements on Twitter that indicate this was a terrorist attack. Canada’s federal police force, the RCMP have indicated that there was no forewarning of the attack and that it took police and security officials by surprise. Canadian soldiers have been asked to stop wearing their uniforms in public as it appears that those wearing the uniforms are being targeted. Earlier this week there was another soldier killed in Quebec in what police there have described as a “despicable act” and linked to terrorism.
It is unfortunate that such situations are taking place within our communities. Many of us in Canada have never experienced such things happening within our communities. We often think that such events happen elsewhere in the world and that Canada is a peaceful and quiet country with strong gun laws that generally makes us immune to such issues. We need to remember that there are people who will commit such acts for various reasons that many of us will never understand. The events which unfolded in Ottawa today will be remembered for some time to come. Our response teams jumped into action quickly and provided help to those in need. Those personnel who were on the scene need to be commended for their devoted duty to the citizens of Ottawa and the rest of the country. No doubt we will be hearing more about the events in the days to come. What we learn from this tragedy will undoubtedly anger some and leave others with even more questions as to why. We can only hope that what we learn will prevent such an event from happening again.
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