RCMP show dramatic security video of gunman behind Ottawa shootings
Published Thursday, October 23, 2014 4:19PM EDT Last Updated Thursday, October 23, 2014 10:08PM EDT
RCMP have revealed dramatic security video footage from Parliament Hill showing the moments after a gunman fatally shot a soldier from behind at the National War Memorial and then stormed Centre Block carrying a high-powered firearm.
RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson outlined the events of Wednesday morning for reporters, beginning with the first calls placed to 911 about a shooting at the memorial.
The chilling footage shows Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, aged 32, after the shooting as he arrives in front of Parliament Hill on Wellington Street. Zehaf-Bibeau is seen exiting a car brandishing his firearm – a Winchester 30-30 rifle -- sending bystanders running for cover.
He can then be seen commandeering a ministerial car parked outside East Block, driving up to Centre Block and then running in the front doors. Moments later, Zehaf-Bibeau would be shot dead in a shootout outside the House of Commons. Paulson would not confirm reports that Zehaf-Bibeau was killed by House of Commons Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers.
Paulson also confirmed that Zehaf-Bibeau was not one of the 93 suspected extremists that the Mounties have on a high-risk traveller list. His passport had also not been revoked. Rather, he had applied for a passport and the RCMP were still in the process of conducting a background check.
“The RCMP did not possess information at that time that would reveal any national security related criminality,” Paulson said.
Zehaf-Bibeau, born to a Canadian mother and Libyan father, likely wanted to travel to Libya when he first applied for his passport, Paulson said. However, his mother told investigators on Wednesday that he had wanted to travel to Syria.
Paulson said that although Zehaf-Bibeau was not on the RCMP watch list, he appeared to hold extremist views, and had connections to a person who is known to the RCMP and has in fact been charged with terror-related offences.
Paulson did not name that individual. However, he revealed that Zehaf-Bibeau’s email was found on that person’s hard drive.
“We need to understand what that means,” he said.
Paulson also said there is no evidence to suggest a link between Zehaf-Bibeau and Martin Couture-Rouleau, who struck two soldiers in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que. -- killing one of them -- on Monday before being shot dead by police.
The two incidents appear to be unrelated, Paulson added. The ongoing investigation will “rapidly determine” whether Zehaf-Bibeau had help planning Wednesday’s attack, he said.
While the shooter’s motives have yet to be determined, Paulson said the ongoing passport application process appears to have played some role in Zehaf-Bibeau’s actions.
“These are very difficult threats to detect,” Paulson said of Monday’s and Wednesday’s attacks. “There’s no way of knowing where or when such an attack will take place.”
After providing an overview of what is seen on security footage, Paulson revealed what witnesses have told investigators about what happened at the War Memorial shortly before 10 a.m. Wednesday.
The witnesses reported seeing the shooter appear from behind the west side of the memorial, where he fired twice at Cpl. Nathan Cirillo from behind. The suspect fired once at the second soldier standing guard but missed. He yelled something unintelligible in English and then rushed north.
The security footage picks up the chain of events, showing the time when Zehaf-Bibeau pulled his beige car up on Wellington St. at 9:52 a.m. and ran toward the Parliament Buildings, carrying his high-powered firearm.
Bystanders scatter as he runs up to a line of cars parked in front of East Block and begins speaking to the driver of the lead car.
The car appears to reverse slightly before the driver gets out and runs away. Zehaf-Bibeau jumps in and begins driving toward Centre Block.
By this point, a white RCMP vehicle is in pursuit and is quickly followed by another.
Zehaf-Bibeau abandons the car in front of Centre Block and runs inside, where he exchanges gunfire with House of Commons security. The details of this exchange are still under investigation, Paulson said.
Zehaf-Bibeau moves further into Centre Block before exchanging gunfire with security and RCMP officers, as well as the Sergeant-at-Arms. He is pronounced dead at the scene.
Paulson said that until the Mounties can conduct a complete review of the current threat, the RCMP will increase surveillance of all Canadians identified as “high-risk travellers.”
He also revealed that the Mounties will make their personal security detail for Prime Minister Stephen Harper an around-the-clock endeavour.
Many Canadians will be questioning the RCMP’s role in protecting the Parliamentary precinct, Paulson said. But the security video will allow the Mounties to identify and address any security vulnerabilities.
“I can tell you it is certainly a challenging security environment,” Paulson said.
“We must, however, balance the need to be responsive to potential threats and risks to our Parliamentarians, their staff and the general public, with the freedom to allow for secure and democratic access in and around our institutions of government.”