A 101-year-old Second World War veteran was tied up and robbed in his Ottawa condo Thursday after a man posing as a city employee managed to get into the building, police say.

Retired colonel Ernest Cote, a D-Day veteran who served as Canada’s ambassador to Finland in the 1970s, managed to free himself and call police after the suspect fled.

Ottawa Police say a man who claimed to work for the city asked to be buzzed into Cote’s condo building around 7:30 a.m. Thursday. The suspect went to Cote’s door and asked for money.

“When he was refused, he forced his way into the apartment,” Staff Sgt. Mike Haarbosch told CTV Ottawa.

Several items were taken from Cote’s apartment, police say.

The robbery shocked Cote’s neighbours and federal politicians, including Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino, who tweeted: “Sending my prayers to Ernest Cote, my friend & CDN hero. This thug should go to jail.”

Fantino later issued a statement saying he was “deeply saddened” to learn of Cote’s ordeal.

“Mr. Ernest Cote, a 101-year-old D-Day Veteran, is an honourable and brave Canadian who landed on Juno Beach on June 6, 1944. I am privileged to know him, and I am angry to think that someone would do such a thing to any Canadian senior, let alone someone who fought to secure the freedom we all enjoy,” Fantino said.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s wife, Laureen Harper, also offered her support to Cote.

Cote was featured in CTV News’ coverage of the 70th anniversary of Normandy landings last year. At the time, he told CTV: “I think this is probably the last time we’ll have this manner of commemoration with veterans.”

Ottawa Police say Cote was able to give them a good description of his assailant. They are seeking a suspect described as white, approximately 50 years old with a prominent nose and short grey hair.

With a report from CTV Ottawa’s Joanne Schnurr