(CNN) — Shots that rang out in the Canadian capital Wednesday left a soldier and a gunman dead, a city on lockdown, and a series of questions about security threats facing the nation.
Parliament member Kyle Seeback called it a “horrific day.”
Authorities haven’t ruled out the possibility that an additional shooter could be on the loose.
There were two shooting incidents in the city, where this kind of violence is extremely rare: one at the Canada War Memorial, which is near the Parliament building, and another round of shooting inside Parliament.
“I was locking my bike up, and I heard four shots,” said Peter Henderson, a journalist who was at the memorial at the time of the shooting. “I saw one of the soldiers laying on the ground.”
The soldier appeared to have been shot in the back, Henderson said. Other soldiers who were nearby doing drills at the time ran to help, he said.
“This is a dynamic and unfolding situation. I understand that people have many questions and we are committed to providing some answers as soon as we are able,” Assistant Commissioner Gilles Michaud, commanding officer of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police National Division, told reporters Wednesday.
In Twitter posts Wednesday, several Canadian lawmakers hailed a top security official as a hero, crediting him with shooting the gunman inside Parliament.
“MPs and Hill staff owe their safety, even lives, to Sergeant at Arms Kevin Vickers who shot attacker just outside the MPs’ caucus rooms,” Craig Scott, a member of Parliament, wrote.
‘I heard rapid fire’
A gunman entered the nearby building on Parliament Hill, officials said.
“I heard rapid fire — gunshots going very loud — and I figure maybe 20-plus shots within 10 seconds,” Canadian Deputy House Leader Kevin Lamoureux told CNN. He was one level below the gunshots.
Soon, Lamoureux and others were outside the building, taken to another building nearby for safety. Others still inside were on lockdown. Some members of Parliament said on Twitter that a gunman had been killed. Police say “one male suspect” is dead.
Canadian authorities have given the name of a suspect to U.S. law enforcement and have asked for FBI assistance in tracing the person’s activities, a senior U.S. law enforcement official told CNN. Only one name has been provided, and it is not clear whether the name is genuine or an alias, the official said. The official declined to provide more details, including the suspect’s nationality, ethnicity and age.
A U.S. law enforcement official told CNN that a connection to terrorism hasn’t been ruled out.
On Monday, a man who Canadian authorities said was “radicalized” killed a Canadian soldier with his car. The man was then shot and killed.
There was no immediate indication that the Monday and Wednesday incidents were related.
In response to the shootings, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, has increased its alert posture, CNN has learned. That means that it has increased the number of planes on a higher alert status ready to respond if needed. NORAD and Canadian authorities are in contact, an official told CNN.
Parliament remained on lockdown at mid-afternoon.