Nfld. & Labrador

Ottawa shooting: N.L. MPs recount chaos moments after gunshots heard

New Democratic MP for St. John's says a caucus meeting room was thrown into chaos on Wednesday morning when shots were fired in Ottawa.

Soldier shot at National War Memorial killed, 1 gunman also dead

A Ottawa police officer holds up a length of police tape for pedestrians leaving the downtown area following shooting incidents in Ottawa on Wednesday. (Blair Gable/Reuters)

A New Democratic MP for St. John's says a caucus meeting room was thrown into chaos on Wednesday morning when shots were fired in Ottawa.

Ryan Cleary, MP for St. John's South-Mount Pearl, was in an NDP caucus meeting at the time shots were heard on Parliament Hill.

This is Canada — this is not supposed to happen here.- NDP MP Ryan Cleary

"There were a number of rounds of gunshots — I'd say, all told, there were about 12. The security outside our doors immediately took control; these are uniformed security," Cleary said.

"They closed the doors, they barred the doors, we could hear the gunshots just outside the doors," said Cleary.

He added that caucus members turned their tables over onto the floor to provide protection, as security swiftly moved into action.
Ryan Cleary, seen in a file photo, says NDP caucus members were in a meeting when they heard shots ring out in Ottawa on Wednseday. (CBC)

According to Cleary, everyone in the room was a member of the caucus — with the exception of one member who brought in her new baby.

"After about 15 minutes, we were escorted outside of the caucus room and through the quarters of Parliament. If the sound of gunfire wasn't chilling enough, the smell of gun smoke — you could smell the gun smoke as we were let outside to a secure location," he said.

"This is Canada — this is not supposed to happen here."

Soldier killed

In the meantime, Tory politicians are reporting that the soldier who was shot at the National War Memorial has died.

Tory Senator David Wells said, in a message on his Facebook page on Wednesday afternoon, the story of the attack is still developing.

"My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the Armed Forces member who was struck and killed by a vehicle in Quebec and also to the family of the war veteran who was killed at the War Memorial this morning in Ottawa. Also, our thoughts and prayers are with others who work on Parliament Hill who were attacked," Wells said.

Wells added the police are still gathering facts, and Prime Minister Stephen Harper is expected to make a statement later today.

Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Paul Davis said in a statement that he was saddened to hear of the events in Ottawa today.

"This awful event has touched Newfoundlanders and Labradorians and all Canadians, and our thoughts are with those in the nation’s capital at this difficult time. I express deep sympathy to the families of all those affected by this tragedy," Davis said in a statement.

Scare for staff

MP Gerry Byrne tweeted a photo of what he said was a tactical unit outside his offices in Ottawa shortly after 12 NT.

Liberal MP Scott Andrews said he was in the Justice building when the incident happened, and was just about to head over to Centre Block. He has since been moved to a secure location.

"It's pretty scary — you've got a lot of employees here on Parliament Hill, you've got a lot of staff, and you've got a lot of people who come and want to see the nation's capital in action, a lot of tourists. It's a very tense scene here now," said Andrews.

He said while the shooting is a shocking incident, the security at Parliament Hill and House of Commons are there for a reason.

"You understand why they are there, and you understand that it's a highly visible, highly public place and you appreciate the work that the security does do, because obviously there are issues out there that people will try to do something like this," he said.

"It's something that's always in the back of your mind every time you walk on Parliament Hill."

'Feel somewhat helpless'

Scott Simms, MP for Bonavista-Gander-Grand Falls-Windsor, said he and other Liberal members were in a meeting on Parliament Hill when they heard "over 20" gunshots outside the office.

He said at the time, they were unsure what the noise was, and looked out into the hall to see what was going on.

"We were in the office having a caucus meeting and we heard the shots from outside and jumped to see what it was, and we went outside the office and then we heard more shots coming from downstairs and then they started yelling at us to go back inside the office and lock the door," Simms said.

Simms spoke with CBC News shortly after shots were fired, and said he was unclear what had happened until police arrived on the scene.

"After the gunshots were fired and we looked out the window and looked out in the hallway and realized what they were … and we saw the police cruisers tearing through the streets getting up to Parliament Hill, we knew what was happening. At this point, all we could do was feel somewhat helpless," he said.