Canadian Prime Minister hid in cupboard while gunbattle went on outside

Updated on Oct 25, 2014 09:16 PM IST
Canada's prime minister, Stephen Harper, hid in a cupboard used to store electrical boxes and ladder while a gunbattle ensued in a nearby hallway of the parliament building in Ottawa this week, it emerged on Friday. Members of parliament and party leaders, including Harper, were meeting in the centre block of Parliament Hill when the attacker, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau,stormed into the building at about 10am on Wednesday morning.ICanada vows tougher laws as citizens worry in face of attacks
ByGuardian News Service, Ottawa

Canada's prime minister, Stephen Harper, hid in a cupboard used to store electrical boxes and ladder while a gunbattle ensued in a nearby hallway of the parliament building in Ottawa this week, it emerged on Friday.

Members of parliament and party leaders, including Harper, were meeting in the centre block of Parliament Hill when the attacker, Michael Zehaf-Bibeau,stormed into the building at about 10am on Wednesday morning.

Officers from the Royal Canadian Mountain Police (RMCP) trailed Zehaf-Bibeau as he rushed up the steps to the main entrance of the Centre Block.

As he entered the building, parliamentary security guards opened fire on Zehaf-Bibeau, a petty criminal with a history of mental health problems,brandishing a 30-30, lever-action Winchester rifle that he'd moments ago used to kill Nathan Cirillo, an honor guard on duty at the nearby National
War Memorial.

Guard engaged gunman

Meanwhile, Harper was hiding in a storage closet just steps away from the Conservative caucusis meeting room, sources confirmed to the Globe and Mail on Friday. Harper's security detail was not with him at the time.

The RMCP commissioner, Bob Paulson, said a "multitude of shots" were fired
during the exchange. A guard was shot in the foot as the gunmen rushed through the marble-lined hallway.

At some point Kevin Vickers, the house of commons sergeant-at-arms, emerged
with a pistol he retrieved from a lockbox, and engaged Zehaf-Bibeau as the pair of them darted behind pillars. In the rapid exchange, the gunman was struck and slumped to the ground. Vickers is widely credited with preventing a further tragedy by rapidly engaging Zehaf-Bibeau, who was pronounced dead at the scene. Vickers then rushed to ensure Harper's safety.

Security upgraded

The RCMP commissioner said the details of the gunbattle between Zehaf-Bibeau, parliamentary security guards and RCMP officers were still under investigation.

Shortly after the incident, Harper was hustled out of the building to a secure location. Some members of parliament said they were shocked when he climbed out of his modest hiding place, the Globe and Mail reported.That a gunman made it so close to the prime minister and MPs has raised serious security concerns. Paulson confirmed on Thursday announced a change to the security detail to ensure the prime minister would not be placed in such a situation again.

"I can tell you that now we've adopted a condition where we will stay with
the prime minister in the prime minister's protective detail 24/7, no
matter where he is," said Paulson.

Lockdown for 12 hours

Though the chain of events lasted just minutes, the area remained in
lockdown for hours, with the last group allowed to leave more than 12 hours
after the shooting began.

There were reports of multiple shooters, and it took police hours to sweep the premises, Canadian police services chief Chuch Bordeleau said onThursday. He said police had received emergency calls that there was a shooting in a shopping mall, the Rideau Centre, which turned out later to be false."Before we can discount any information, we have to verify it," Bordeleau said, explaining why the area remained on lockdown for so long.

Urgent email to MPs?

An urgent email sent to MPs and staff on Wednesday instructed them to lock or barricade their office doors, which they were not to open for anyone, and to stay away from windows. This later caused problems when the police swept the area and, not having keys to the offices, asked to be let in.
Police rammed the doors of empty offices; reporters who toured parliament after the incident said several rooms were missing doorhandles.

Parliament resumed on Thursday, a day after the attack in a show of resilience by Canada's politicians. Vickers, 58, was honoured in parliament with a standing ovation. An emotional Vickers thanked politicians and commended fellow guards and police officers for their swift action that brought the gunman's rampage to an end.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
Close Story
QUICKREADS

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • The ATS ADG said the accused created a fake e-mail ID and Facebook account using RSS name to target RSS volunteers (Pic for representation)

    Terror plot foiled: ATS nabs suspected ISIS operative in Azamgarh

    LUCKNOW Ahead of Independence Day, the UP Anti-Terrorism Squad on Tuesday claimed to have foiled a terror plot to target Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh workers, after the arrest of an alleged ISIS operative, Sabauddin Azmi, from UP's Azamgarh district. Sharing a press note, ATS officials claimed that Sabauddin Azmi was in touch with ISIS recruiters Abu Umar and Abu Bakar Al-Shami through phone and instant messaging applications.

  • Three persons from Delhi were arrested for thefts in Navi Mumbai. (HT FILE PHOTO)

    3 from Delhi arrested for thefts in Navi Mumbai

    Investigations into a house break in New Panvel led the Khandeshwar police to a gang of three in Delhi who used to come to Mumbai, stay in hotels, board a train and get down at any station and target closed flats near the stations and return to Delhi. The accused have been identified as Alimuddin Abdul Hameed (47), Sajid Khubanseeb (27) and Mohammad Ramzan Mohammad Haneef (44).

  • Water level at Barvi Dam rises to 91% after good rainfall in August first week. (HT FILE PHOTO)

    Water level at Barvi Dam rises to 91% after good rainfall in August first week

    With the first week of August receiving good rainfall in catchment areas, the water level in Barvi Dam, which supplies water to Mumbai Metropolitan Region, has increased to 91% from 78%, which was the level in July last week. The officials of the dam claimed that if the rainfall continues in the coming days, the dam will get its full storage.

  • Senior officials of UP police said the peace during the processions was due to strategic planning by the police. (Pic for representation)

    Moharram processions peaceful across U.P., stray violence in Bareilly

    Lucknow Amid apprehensions of communal and sectarian clashes, the state police on Tuesday managed to ensure by and large peaceful Moharram processions in different districts, including Lucknow. The Moharram processions were taken out peacefully from August 1 and 9 but there were major apprehensions of law-and-order problem in the backdrop of back-to-back incidents of violence after Friday prayers in June earlier this year in Kanpur, Prayagraj and eight other districts.

  • Ravi Shankar Prasad addresses a press conference with state BJP president Sanjay Jaishwal after Bihar CM Nitish Kumar resigned, in Patna on Tuesday.

    ‘Blatant lies’: Bihar BJP leaders blast Nitish Kumar for breaking ties

    Senior Bharatiya Janata Party leader Ravi Shankar Prasad on Tuesday lashed out at Janata Dal (United) president Nitish Kumar for breaking ties with the National Democratic Alliance and joining hands with the Rashtriya Janata Dal to form a new government in Bihar. Stating that JDU won the 2019 Lok Sabha elections in the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Prasad said the tally of JD(U) MPs also increased to 16.

SHARE
Story Saved
×
Saved Articles
Following
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Tuesday, August 09, 2022
Start 15 Days Free Trial Subscribe Now