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Gunman Kills Soldier Outside Canada's Parliament


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Audie Cornish.


And I'm Robert Siegel. Canadian officials are piecing together information about a deadly shooting at the Parliament today. The Parliament building has been on lockdown since this morning, just after a gunman killed a soldier standing guard at the National War Memorial in Ottawa. One male suspect has been confirmed dead and more details are emerging about that man.

James Cudmore is a reporter for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and he joins us now and James Cudmore, do we have any more details about the suspect, who's been confirmed dead?

JAMES CUDMORE: Yeah, they're starting to emerge now. We have a name and a few scant sort of details about his life. His name is Michael Zehaf-Bibeau. We believe he lives across the river from Ottawa in a town called Gatineau, which is part of the Quebec province, the French-speaking province in Canada. Thirty-two years old, he's had trouble with the law in the past. There are previous convictions on drug charges and attempted robbery dating back 10 years, but as recently also as February 2012, a conviction for uttering threats, sentenced to just a day in jail at that time.

At this point we've been unable to get a picture of the suspect or have one confirmed by police, who right now are trying to keep a lid on some of this information. What we do know about the suspect's activities today are that this name - this man - this name belongs to the man who was shot dead by police and also by Parliamentary officials inside Canada's Parliament. We've been able to follow his path back. He is indeed the fellow who also shot and killed a Canadian soldier who was standing guard at the Canadian War Memorial - the National War Memorial - just 150 meters or so from our Parliament buildings.

SIEGEL: That shooting of the soldier who was standing guard at the War Memorial that was witnessed by one of your colleagues from CBC.

CUDMORE: It was indeed witnessed by one of my colleagues, a producer, a television producer named Jason Ho, who alerted us all to what was going on. It was witnessed by a large number of people. There were tourists who were taking pictures of these soldiers. They're a bit special, these soldiers. It's new thing for us to have a sentry there. It relates to the celebration of the 100th anniversary of the start of the First World War and so these soldiers in particular were from a town far away from Ottawa called Hamilton. They were part-time soldiers, reserve soldiers, or national guardsmen I guess you'd call them in the States and they belonged to a Highland regiment so they were wearing kilts and the other accoutrements of a Highland regiment. And they were of course, then, obvious targets for pictures - of tourists who wanted to have their picture taken with these guys. And in this case also became today - in a horrible way - an obvious target for this man and his activities.

SIEGEL: And he simply - did he drive up to the Memorial?

CUDMORE: Sure, I'll take you through that. He did, he drove up to the Memorial, parked his car just on the north side of it, hopped out with a - what turns out to be a rifle in his hand, a 30-30, a deer gun really is what it was. So a hunting rifle, then there'd be no restrictions on ownership of that in Canada - and he ran with the rifle towards the soldiers, shot one in the chest. He was later seen to be departing the scene. He ran across the street to the Parliament buildings, hopped over a fence - not a very secure fence an ornamental fence, really, made of stone and iron - and then once there, he hopped into a car that was parked on sort of a ring road on the front lawn of our Parliament buildings, carjacked it - hijacked it - forced the driver out at gunpoint and then from there, proceeded rapidly up to the front doors of the building where his campaign continued. He moved through the front doors of the Parliament building, which are not - you might be surprised to hear - secure in the way that for instance, I imagine that your Congress buildings are or your White House is. This is the door that I go through when I go into Parliament, it's a normal entry way for many people who have a pass that allows them access. He forced his way through the door with his gun and then the shooting continued inside.

SIEGEL: Just one last quick question, James. Do the authorities there suspect there were any other gunmen involved in this today, or do they think this was only by this man whom we've described?

CUDMORE: So it's an excellent question, it's one that right now we don't yet have an answer to. The police were operating under the suspicion, really, that there were others, that this sort of thing might not happen alone and there were people - witnesses - who were wondering whether someone that they saw over there or over there might not have been connected, but there's been no hard evidence of another person. There's been lots of rumors of that, but no hard evidence of another man, or a woman for that matter. We do know that the police lockdown is slowly, very gradually being lifted from the downtown core of Ottawa, the Parliamentary Precinct as it's being called. They're allowing people to go home and leave, but not new people to come into the area. So there's something still going on.

SIEGEL: OK. James Cudmore of the CBC, thanks for updating us on today's events in Ottawa.

CUDMORE: You got it. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.