Vancouver police officers are aiding in the investigation of a gunman who launched an attack on Parliament Hill this morning (October 22).
“The Vancouver Police Department, along with the BC RCMP, are working together to assist an Ottawa Police Service and RCMP National Security investigation,” a VPD media release states.
It adds that there is “little information we can share at this time”.
The alleged gunman has been identified as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a 32-year-old Canadian citizen and resident of Quebec.
The man was known to authorities and was recently designated a high-risk traveller, the Globe and Mail reports.
The attack ended when Zehaf-Bibeau was shot and killed by Kevin Vickers, a sergeant-at-arms in the House of Commons.
The Vancouver Sun reports that Zehaf-Bibeau was charged for committing a robbery in Vancouver in December 2011. Court documents state he was convicted of that crime in February 2012.
Meanwhile, television journalist Domenic Fazioli has revealed that Zehaf-Bibeau was arrested five times in Montreal. According to court records, he was charged with drug possession three times and twice for violating parole conditions, Fazioli wrote on Twitter. Those crimes occurred between the years 2004 and 2009.
Citing unnamed sources, CNN has claimed that Zehaf-Bibeau converted to Islam at some point in time.
A Twitter accounted linked to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) posted an image of a man holding a weapon. A description written in French did not name Zehaf-Bibeau, but claimed the image was a photograph of the individual involved in the Ottawa shooting.
The attack on Parliament Hill began shortly after 9 a.m. EST. Gunshots were reported at at least three locations, including inside a Parliament building hallway.
A member of the Canadian Armed Forces named Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was shot at the National War Memorial. The 24-year-old was later confirmed dead.
Gunfire was also reported at the Chateau Laurier Hotel located just east of Parliament Hill.
In addition to Cirillo, three other people were wounded and taken to Ottawa Civic Hospital. Their injuries are believed to be non-life-threatening.
The RCMP and Ottawa police quickly placed Parliament Hill and a wide surrounding area under lockdown. A thorough search was conducted where officers went door-to-door and checked vehicles. It was initially reported that a second attacker could be on the loose. No other gunman was found during that search and it was later reported that Zehaf-Bibeau acted alone.
At 8:25 p.m. EST, Ottawa Police Service posted messages on social media stating that safety perimeters in the downtown core were lifted but that Parliament Hill remained under lockdown. It was stated there that an investigation remains ongoing.
Speaking at a press conference while events were still unfolding, Christopher Cotes, a deputy commander with the Royal Canadian Air Force, conceded there was little warning before the incident was already unfolding.
“It caught us by surprise,” he said.
The October 22 attack on Parlaiment Hill follows another incident involving a Quebec resident killing a Canadian soldier just days earlier.
On October 20, 25-year-old Martin Couture-Rouleau allegedly carried out a hit-and-run attack that left dead warrant officer Patrice Vincent. The RCMP described Couture-Rouleau as "self-radicalized" and said that he was known as a potential security threat. During a chase he was shot and killed by members of the RCMP.
In a speech made late Wednesday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper mentioned the two attacks together but provided no evidence that they were linked. He described them as acts of terrorism (something U.S. President Barack Obama refrained from doing when asked earlier in the day) but did not use the word "Islamist" or "Islam" in his speech.
In Vancouver, Mayor Gregor Robertson issued a statement calling today's news "shocking and tragic".
Robertson said he spoke with Vancouver police chief Jim Chu and that Vancouver is taking “every possible added precaution in light of these events”.
"All Canadians owe tremendous thanks to Canada's first responders and our colleagues in Ottawa who are working hard to support those affected by these senseless acts of violence," Robertson said in a statement.