Ottawa shooting: 15 minutes of terror in the Conservative caucus room
MPs wondered if 'we were going to be rounded up and killed for being members of the government'
Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservative MPs pinned themselves against the walls of their barricaded caucus room after piling furniture against the door to prevent a gunman from entering during Wednesday's chaotic attack on Parliament Hill.
Several Conservative sources spoke of a terrifying 15-minute period when they stripped flags off flagpoles to arm themselves while the gunman exchanged fire with security forces mere metres away.
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Conservative caucus sources told CBC News they heard the shooting and threw things against the doors to barricade the doorway in the caucus room.
The prime minister was in the room at the time.
The Opposition New Democrats, who face off across from the Conservatives in the House of Commons, were on the other side of the hallway, diving under chairs while they heard multiple gunshots.
As the gunman moved down the hallway, one security person inside the Conservative caucus room told MPs to get up against the walls.
People started grabbing flagpoles to use as spears.
"We thought it was over," one source told CBC News.
"We couldn't tell good shots from bad shots," said another. "So the sheer number of shots could lead to a conclusion that the good guys lost the battle outside, and we were going to be rounded up and killed for being members of the government."
After a tense 15 minutes, RCMP officers outside the room tried to get in to tell the MPs they were safe.
Suspicious, they at first wouldn't let officers into the room and demanded identification.
They got confirmation via radio that the officers trying to get in were in fact Mounties.
Kevin Vickers, the House of Commons sergeant-at-arms, entered the caucus room and explained what happened.
Vickers told the room he engaged with the assailant. "I put him down," the former RCMP officer said.
It's believed that in the flurry of shots, the fatal one may have been fired by a Mountie.
At one point, Vickers returned to his office to reload his sidearm.
By the time Vickers spoke, the prime minister's security detail had entered the caucus room carrying long guns.
The prime minister was ushered out of the room, and everyone else locked down for the day.
MPs were able to start leaving Parliament Wednesday evening.