OTTAWA, Ontario (AP) — A gunman shot and wounded a Canadian soldier standing guard at a war memorial in the country’s capital Wednesday, then entered Parliament, where
numerous shots rang out, police and witnesses said.
People fled Parliament by scrambling down scaffolding erected for renovations, witnesses said. Others were in lockdown. Police with rifles and body armor stood guard outside and blocked the normally bustling streets leading to Parliament.
Ottawa police Constable Marc Soucy said it was unclear whether there was more than one shooter.
The attack came two days after a recent convert to Islam killed one Canadian soldier and injured another in a hit-and-run before being shot to death by police. The killer had been on the radar of federal investigators, who feared he had jihadist ambitions and seized his passport when he tried to travel to Turkey.
Canada had raised its domestic terror threat level from low to medium Tuesday because of “an increase in general chatter from radical Islamist organizations,” said Jean-Christophe de Le Rue, a spokesman for the public safety minister.
On Wednesday, Tony Zobl, 35, said he witnessed the soldier being gunned down from his fourth-floor window directly above the National War Memorial, a tall granite cenotaph, or empty tomb, with bronze sculptures dedicated to those who died in World War I.
“I looked out the window and saw a shooter, a man dressed all in black with a kerchief over his nose and mouth and something over his head as well, holding a rifle and shooting an honor guard in front of the cenotaph point-blank, twice,” Zobl told the Canadian Press news agency.
“The honor guard dropped to the ground, and the shooter kind of raised his arms in triumph holding the rifle.”
Zobl said the gunman then ran up the street toward Parliament Hill.
The wounded soldier was taken away in an ambulance. His condition was not immediately known.
Cabinet minister Tony Clement tweeted that at least 30 shots were heard inside Parliament, where Conservative and Liberal MPs were holding their weekly caucus meetings.
“I’m safe locked in a office awaiting security,” Kyle Seeback, another member of Parliament, tweeted.
The top spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Harper was safe and had left Parliament Hill.
Shots were also fired at a shopping mall near Parliament, police said. All three sites — the war memorial, Parliament and the mall — are within less than a mile from each other.
Officials also canceled two events in Toronto honoring Pakistani teenager and Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, including one in which she was supposed to receive honorary Canadian citizenship. The teenager was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman in 2012 for calling for schooling for girls.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police warned people in downtown Ottawa to stay away from windows and rooftops.