NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A Canadian soldier standing guard at a war memorial in the country’s capital was shot to death Wednesday before gunfire erupted inside Parliament, authorities said.
One gunman was also killed.
And as CBS 2’s Dana Tyler reported, police Wednesday evening could not confirm whether any more shooters remained on the loose — though there were reports that officers were searching for at least two others.
Lawmakers and civilians rushed through the halls of the Canadian parliament amid the sound of the gunfire. People fled Parliament by scrambling down scaffolding erected for renovations, while others took cover inside as police with rifles and body armor took up positions outside and blocked the normally bustling streets around the building.
“We’re standing around talking and one of the construction people said to us, ‘Well, probably a good idea to stand behind one of the monuments;’ that if there’s someone inside shooting out, then we got a bit (of a) better chance,” said Canada MP John McKay (Liberal, Scarborough-Guildwood.)
Witnesses said at least one gunman, a man dressed all in black with a scarf over his face, was chased into Parliament after another shooting at a nearby war memorial. There, a soldier standing guard over a tomb commemorating World War I was killed.
The CBC late Wednesday afternoon identified the soldier as Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, 24.
When the gunman entered Parliament, dozens of shots rang out, witnesses said.
The gunman who was killed was identified as Canadian-born Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, 32.
PHOTOS: Canadian Parliament Shooting
Ottawa police spokesman Chuck Benoit said two or three gunmen were believed to be involved in the attack. Gilles Michaud, assistant commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, called it a “dynamic, unfolding situation.”
Ottawa Hospital said it received two patients, both listed in stable condition, in addition to the soldier.
WCBS 880 spoke with Canada MP Marc Garneau (Liberal, Westmount-Ville-Marie), who was also in the building when the shots were fired.
“This is not a place where you expect somebody to storm the place and start firing at everybody so it was quite traumatic for some people,” he said.
Here at home, New Yorkers can expect to see a more visible show of force from the NYPD.
The NYPD said it is paying “special attention” to certain locations within NYC that may be associated with the Canadian government– including the Canadian Consulate across from 30 Rock and Radio City Music Hall. That attention includes heavily armed and armored “Hercules” teams. The NYPD said they’re taking the steps as a “precautionary measure.”
The FBI said in a statement there was “no specific reporting indicating a threat to the United States” related to the incident. “We stand ready to assist our Canadian partners as they deal with the ongoing situation in their capital,” the agency said.
Rows of news vans and the NYPD “Hercules team” with helmets, vests, automatic rifles and a German Shepard could be seen outside the consulate Wednesday, WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman reported.
The attack in Canada came two days after a recent convert to Islam killed one Canadian soldier and injured another in a hit-and-run before being shot to death by police. The killer had been on the radar of federal investigators, who feared he had jihadist ambitions and seized his passport when he tried to travel to Turkey.
The White House stopped short of calling the attacks the work of terrorists, but Press Secretary John Earnest confirmed that President Barack Obama is monitoring developments closely.
Obama and Prime Minister Stephen Harper spoke Wednesday afternoon.
“The United States has been in touch with Canadian counterparts over the last several months to talk about this issue of countering violent extremism, and trying to deter foreign fighters who could be radicalized by ISIL,” Earnest said.
“We don’t yet have all the information about what motivated the shooting. We don’t yet have all the information about whether this was part of a broader network or plan, or if this was an individual or series of individuals who decided to take these actions,” added President Obama.
Meanwhile, Canada had raised its domestic terror threat level from low to medium Tuesday because of “an increase in general chatter from radical Islamist organizations,” said Jean-Christophe de Le Rue, a spokesman for the public safety minister.
Cabinet Minister Tony Clement tweeted that at least 30 shots were heard inside Parliament, where Conservative and Liberal MPs were holding their weekly caucus meetings.
“I’m safe locked in an office awaiting security,” tweeted MP Kyle Seeback (Conservative, Brampton West.)
The top spokesman for Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Harper was safe and had left Parliament Hill.
Officials also canceled two events in Toronto honoring Pakistani teenager and Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, including one in which she was supposed to receive honorary Canadian citizenship. The teenager was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman in 2012 for calling for schooling for girls.
Royal Canadian Mounted Police warned people in downtown Ottawa to stay away from windows and rooftops.
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