The events on Parliament Hill unfolded in a matter of minutes Wednesday after Michael Zehaf-Bibeau stepped out of his car and opened fire on Corporal Nathan Cirillo at the National War Memorial. Less than 10 minutes later, the attack would come to an end in an alcove near the Library of Parliament.
1. It is just before 10 a.m. on Wednesday, a crisp fall morning in Ottawa, and Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a man in his 30s who has been living in a downtown shelter since early October, arrives at the National War Memorial, one of the capital's landmarks. He is armed with a 30-30 Winchester rifle. He parks his beige Toyota Corolla, a car he purchased just one day earlier, on Wellington Street, oblivious to the traffic. The car has no licence plates. At 9:50 a.m., according to witnesses who spoke to the RCMP, he approaches the memorial from the west and fires two shots at Corporal Nathan Cirillo, a 24-year-old reservist from Hamilton, who is standing guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Cpl. Cirillo has no chance to defend himself. He has no warning because the shooter had positioned himself so the honour guard would not see him coming, RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson revealed in a press conference Thursday. A third shot is fired at Cpl. Cirillo's partner – but the shooter misses. He yells something and then runs off, heading north. Despite the efforts of passersby and paramedics, Cpl. Cirillo does not survive.
2. The shooter runs to his parked car, makes a U-turn in the middle of Wellington, and stops on the street in front of the East Block, one of the buildings on Parliament Hill where senators and MPs have their offices. Access by car is blocked by recently installed bollards. It is 9:52.23 a.m. A woman pushing a stroller, just on the other side of the bollards, is seen running away on videotape provided by the RCMP; one pedestrian approaches the car but then backs away as the shooter, carrying the rifle, gets out of his car. Other pedestrians scatter. The shooter runs around the bollards toward the East Block where he commandeers the car belonging to junior cabinet minister Michelle Rempel. Her driver is sitting in it while she is attending the weekly caucus meeting. In the video, her driver is seen leaving the car. The shooter takes over – it is 9:53:16 a.m.
3. He drives to the Centre Block, the main building on Parliament Hill where the House of Commons and Senate are located. It is 9:53:37 a.m. when he stops the car and runs up the ramp at the west side toward the main door under the Peace Tower. Several RCMP cars are chasing him – but there are no sirens or lights flashing – in fact, he drives by a parked RCMP car on his way to the Centre Block. The building is full of MPs from all parties because Wednesday is caucus day.
4. "Our officers are in pursuit," says Commissioner Paulson. "I can tell you that as he gets to the door of the Centre Block there is an exchange of gunfire with House of Commons security officers. Our officers back up slightly as that shooting takes place and then pursue him inside."
5. It is 9:53:46 a.m. and he is now in the Centre Block. Uniformed House of Commons security guard Samearn Son is at the door. Constable Son, a 10-year veteran of the security service, sees the shooter and tries to knock down his gun. He is shot in the leg but yells "gun, gun, gun" alerting his colleagues to the imminent danger. (Constable Son is in stable condition but expected to make a full 6.The shooter is pursued down the Hall of Honour that separates the House of Commons from the Senate. The hall leads to the Library of Parliament and is decorated with elaborately carved pillars and alcoves. The shooter passes a wooden door on the left that leads into the Reading Room, where Prime Minister Stephen Harper is addressing his caucus. Across the hall in the Railway Committee Room, NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair is doing the same.
7. At first MPs think the noise outside the doors is caused by something falling but then quickly realize it is gunfire. The Prime Minister's expression turns serious. His security detail keeps him safe – and the former police officers in the Conservative caucus keep everyone else calm. In the NDP caucus room, a security guard rushes in and stands in front of the door. MPs barricade the doors with furniture.
8. The gunfight continues along the hallway, at which point Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers, a former RCMP officer, gets involved. His office is just off the Hall of Honour. "The suspect and Mr. Vickers were behind pillars and were exchanging fire," said Commissioner Paulson. "The suspect repositioned himself to get a better shot at Mr. Vickers when our officers engaged and you may have heard the sort of multitude of shots and that Mr. Vickers did shoot." He shot the suspect three times and is being credited with killing him. Mr. Vickers and his team have to requalify every year to be able to carry a gun – and last year, he was the best of all of his officers in shooting accuracy. Commissioner Paulson called Mr. Vickers and his team "heroes." In the Commons Thursday, Mr. Vickers was given a sustained standing ovation.
9. At 9:57 a.m. the shooting ends – the suspect, slumped on the east side of the alcove leading to the Library of Parliament, is pronounced dead at the scene.