The Canadian capital of Ottawa was rocked by violence Wednesday after a gunman fatally shot a soldier guarding the National War Memorial and opened fire in the Parliament building before he was shot and killed by a sergeant-at-arms. The victim, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, died hours later at the hospital.
The gunman, identified as 32-year-old Michael Joseph Hall, was a convert to Islam and had been using the name Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, sources told NBC News.
Just before 10 a.m. local time, law enforcement officials responded to multiple 911 calls regarding a shooting near the National War Memorial, Ottawa Police Service Chief Charles Bordeleau said during an afternoon press conference. The alerts were followed by a similar incident on Parliament Hill in downtown Ottawa.
Three other local authorities joined Bordeleau at the news conference. But they refused to confirm whether or not armed suspects remained at-large from the police. Authorities confirmed at least one of the suspects, a male, died, after firing on the hill.
The Ottawa Hospital’s Civic Campus received four patients, three of which had minor, non-life threatening injuries and remain in the care of doctors, said communications adviser Hazel Harding.
Multiple buildings in Ottawa previously were on lockdown, including Parliament. Police warned residents located in the downtown area to refrain from walking near windows or on rooftops. Several federal government offices were promptly closed to the public, including Ottawa City Hall and Ottawa police stations.
Authorities weren’t immediately certain about a motive, or if the incident was linked to terrorism.
“As with all Ottawa residents and all Canadians, I am shocked and saddened by what has happened in the last hour here in the nation’s capital,” Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson posted to his Twitter account.
The shooting comes two days after a man, suspected to be influenced by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), drove over two soldiers, killing one, in Montreal, Quebec. Earlier this month, members of Canada’s Parliament agreed to join the U.S.-led coalition to fight the terrorist group in Iraq.
President Barack Obama called Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper to remind him of Americans’ solidarity with his country. Obama condemned the attacks, and reaffirmed the close friendship and alliance between both North American countries.
The FBI has also weighed in with a statement: ”Although there is no specific reporting indicating a threat to the United States, as a matter of precaution due to recent events, the FBI has reminded our field offices and government partners to remain vigilant in light of recent calls for attacks against government personnel by terrorist groups and like-minded individuals. We stand ready to assist our Canadian partners as they deal with the ongoing situation in their capital.”
Mass shootings have been on the rise in the United States, but this kind of violence has been relatively uncommon in Canada.
Other Canadian cities implemented cautionary measures as police in Ottawa continued their investigation. The game scheduled for Wednesday night between the Toronto Maple Leas and the Ottawa Senators in Ontario was postponed.