A manhunt is ongoing in Ottawa as Canadian police search for the gunmen involved with the shooting a soldier guarding the National War Memorial. Multiple exchanges of gunfire have been reported within the Parliament building, along with varying reports as the situation continues to evolve. Originally thought to be one shooter, who wounded the guard at the memorial, confirmation has now been given by Ottawa police that there are multiple suspects involved. There is one report out that the man chased from the scene of the initial shooting has been killed in an exchange with police, but no details have yet been released regarding any of the suspects other than that two men thought to be involved with the shooting were seen exiting a purple Toyota Corolla just prior to the incident at the memorial.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper was swiftly removed from the scene and is currently safe according to a spokesman, though statements from some members of Parliament indicate that gunshots continue to be heard and that there are still a number of politicians and workers there who are “still at risk.” So far, aside from the shooting at the National War Memorial, two other incidents have been reported of shootings. One was at Parliament Hill and another near an area mall. Details remain sparse, and the situation is ongoing as authorities continue to try to determine the number of people involved and the scope of the threat. Parliament Hill has been locked down since shortly after the first shooting, but without specific intelligence the situation remains fluid.
Today’s events come on the heels of an incident Monday which saw the terrorist threat level in the country raised. Two members of the Canadian military were deliberately struck by a vehicle driven by a man, Martin Couture-Rouleau, who had been under surveillance for possible jihadist ties. Couture-Rouleau was shot and killed after being pursued by the police after the attack. One of the military members who was hit lost his life in the incident. It is not known if the incidents are in any way related, but authorities in Ottawa are on high alert for other possible threats. Although extreme measures such as closing airports or other high-value targets have not been implemented so far, authorities state that they are maintaining a state of “heightened vigilance.”
Ottawa officials have cautioned residents and workers in the area to stay away from windows and off of roofs as the incident investigation and pursuit continues. An announcement by government representatives told citizens that while they had intelligence based on “general chatter” from radical groups that there may be reason to suspect a violent act of terrorism may be planned to occur, that measures were being taken to prevent that from occurring. Citizens were encouraged to be vigilant, but to continue on with their lives as normal.
Reports of shooting from Parliament Hill have stopped, but with “several gunmen” reported to have been seen on the scene Wednesday morning, and only one of them having been reported as killed, citizens of Ottawa continue to wait nervously for an indication that the danger has ended.
By Jim Malone