Authorities identified the shooter at Parliament Hill in Ottawa as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, 32.
Zehaf-Bibeau was born in Canada and had lived in several cities in Quebec but police have not released any information about his background. He is believed to be the same man who shot and killed a soldier guarding the National War Memorial Wednesday morning. He then fled to the main Parliament building, entered with a rifle and started firing more shots.
Epoch Times reporter Matthew Little said the shooter got as far as the library before the Sergeant-At-Arms, a 29-year veteran of the Canadian Mounted Police, shot him dead.
U.S. government sources said the shooter was born Michael Joseph Hall but changed his name to Zehaf-Bibeau after converting to Islam, according to a report by Reuters.
Not long after the shooting a photo appeared on an ISIS Twitter account that purported to be Zehaf-Bibeau, wearing a face scarf and holding a rifle. An hour later the account was suspended.
A man identified on Twitter as Michael Zehaf worked briefly for a Burnaby, B.C., company called Bathurst Irrigation, according to owner John Bathurst.
Bathurst told the Ottawa Citizen that his son, who is a convert to Islam, had hired this man after meeting him at the Masjid al-Salaam mosque in Burnaby earlier this year.
The man worked for the firm for only two days “digging holes” for sprinkler systems, Bathurst said.
Bathurst remembered him as a large-framed white man and said he thought he might have played football at one time.
He could not tell if the photo of Zehaf-Bibeau holding a rifle was the same man his company hired.
President Obama did not acknowledge any connection to Islam in his comments about the shooting.
Obama condemned Wednesday’s shooting as “outrageous attacks.” ”We’re all shaken by it,” he said.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper gave a televised address to the nation Wednesday night in which he clearly labeled the incident in Ottawa as a ‘terrorist’ act.
“They will have no safe haven,” Harper said. “Together we will remain vigilant against those at home or abroad who wish to harm us.”
The soldier was rushed to a hospital but later died. Three other shooting victims were listed in stable condition.
The soldier has been identified by the National Post as Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, a 24-year-old reservist and father based out of Hamilton, Ontario.
The attack occurred as Canada was already on alert because of a deadly hit-and-run two days earlier against two soldiers by a man who police say was motivated by radical Islamic fervor.
Ottawa’s downtown remained on lockdown until after 7 p.m. Wednesday, more than nine hours after gunshots rang through the halls of Parliament Hill’s Centre Block Wednesday morning.
The shooting started at the memorial at 9:52 a.m. and broke out inside the halls of Parliament about 30 minutes later.
The lone soldier who was guarding the memorial was shot in the chest by a man who then fled, reportedly toward the House of Commons.
Witnesses said the shooter was dressed in all black with a scarf over his face.
A Canadian parliament official described the gunman to BBC as looking “Arabian” with “long hair and a small beard.”
In video taken within Parliament, at least a dozen gunshots can be heard within the halls but multiple witnesses said they heard more than 30 shots fired.
It was not immediately clear if the shooter at the war memorial was the same shooter who entered the Parliament building but as the day wore on, police began to downplay the possibility that more than one shooter was involved.
Tim Bladow, who is an aide to Conservative MP Maurice Vellacott, told WND it would be difficult for a gunman to run from the war memorial to Parliament without being stopped. There is also confusion as to what type of weapon the gunman used. Witness accounts described it as a double-barrel shotgun but that would not explain how Zehaf-Bibeau engaged guards in an extended gun battle.
“You’ve got to run across the street, through rush-hour traffic, then you’ve got to race up this lawn which is half a city block and then you’d have to get past the police. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me that it was just one person,” Bladow told WND. “They’ve cordoned off the whole area. They told us not to leave the building, to keep all our offices locked and stay away from the windows. I haven’t tried yet to leave. They obviously think it’s safer for us to be inside at this point.”
Bladow looked out his office window and told WND the streets were nearly deserted at 6 p.m. EST.
He said the Toronto Maple Leafs were in town for a hockey game, which has been canceled.
“The World Exchange Plaza is locked down, some of the schools closed early, some of the embassies are closing or locked down,” he said. “The Israeli, Swedish, Polish and British embassies are closed.”
Bladow said police are being tight-lipped about the gunman and have not released any information about his identity or whether he has any ties to international terrorism.
“Police gave their first formal press conference and said if they know who he is they’re not giving any information on it,” Bladow said. “They’re not disclosing anything or answering any questions until they get further into the investigation.”
Bladow said he’s seen one news report that a witness was able to take a clear photograph of the man who shot the soldier at the war memorial. “The witness was with a party of three and police whisked them all off to be interviewed.”
A former Mountie is being hailed a hero for reportedly shooting the gunman inside the Parliament building.
Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers is being praised by politicians for “selflessly keeping them safe” during the shooting spree.
Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers is pictured in the Senate on Parliament Hill in Ottawa in this June 2011 photo. Vickers reportedly shot dead one of the suspects in Wednesday’s shooting incident on Parliament Hill.
“I am safe & profoundly grateful to Sgt at Arms Kevin Vickers & our security forces for selfless act of keeping us safe,” said Julian Fantino, Canada’s Minister of Veterans Affairs, on Twitter.
The Sergeant-at-Arms is responsible for safeguarding the authority of the House of Commons and providing safety and security of the Parliament buildings and the people inside.
On Tuesday, the day before the shooting, Canada raised its threat alert level from “low” to “medium.”
That may have been in response to the fact that two Canadian soldiers were run over Tuesday in Quebec by a man who was then shot by police. The man was later described as a recent convert to Islam who had been radicalized.
So far, there is “no indication the shooter has ties to violent Islamic extremism,” but it is still extremely early in the investigation, a senior U.S. official told CNN.
Reports of a looming Islamic-inspired attack
The attack in Ottawa comes one day after reports surfaced in Canada that the country had joined the U.S.-led bombing raids on ISIS.
According to a report in the International Business Times, the Canadian authorities were aware of “potential ISIS [Islamic State]-inspired knife and gun attacks” long before Wednesday’s attack.
Within minutes of the gunshots at Ottawa’s War Memorial, speculation exploded that Islamic State militants were involved in the shooting.
Long before the attack took place, Canadian intelligence experts were assessing the possibility of a terrorist assault, IBT reported. Indeed a report by NBC News, published in early October, said that the country’s top officials were investigating at least 90 people suspected of being involved in terrorism activities.
”Intelligence officials tell NBC News that Canadian authorities have heard would-be terrorists discussing potential ISIS-inspired ‘knife and gun’ attacks against U.S. and Canadian targets inside Canada,” the network reported.
”Both U.S. and Canadian officials fear the beheading of an innocent person in a public place, or the slashing of citizens on a crowded street until police arrive to shoot and ‘martyr’ the terrorists.
”Canadian officials are weighing increased security around public buildings in coming days, government officials there say.”