Gunfire echoed through the Gothic halls of the Canadian parliament and the Parliament was on lockdown and police warned residents of downtown Ottawa to stay away from windows and roofs. Cell phones in the area were blocked. A gunman, identified by officials as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, fatally wounded a soldier guarding the National War Memorial in Ottawa, entered the nearby Parliament building and fired multiple times before he was shot and killed.
Canadian Forces bases across the country have been closed for the public.
A little before 10 a.m. on Wednesday, police received several emergency calls reporting a gunman had opened fire at Ottawa's National War Memorial, fatally shooting a Canadian soldier who was standing guard.
Witnesses told Reuters that the gunman then ran towards Parliament Hill, which is located across the street from the Memorial.
Police said an investigation was continuing, but did not confirm earlier reports that more gunmen were involved. Heavily armed officers backed by armored vehicles sealed off the building.
Witnesses said the soldier was gunned down at point-blank range just before 10 am by a man carrying a rifle and dressed all in black, a scarf over his face. They said the gunman then ran off and entered Parliament, a few hundred yards away, where numerous shots soon rang out.
One witness, parliamentary aide, said he saw a man run into a caucus meeting at the parliament, chased by police armed with rifles who yelled "take cover.". That was followed by "10, 15, maybe 20 shots," possibly from an automatic weapon.
US, Canada Air defenses on alert:
The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) "is taking appropriate and prudent steps to ensure we are adequately postured to respond quickly to any incidents involving aviation in Canada," said a US defense official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Since the attacks on New York and Washington on September 11, 2001, the command regularly scrambles fighter jets to intercept private aircraft that enter prohibited areas over the US capital or elsewhere, escorting them to the nearest runway.