Breaking: Gunman shoots soldier near Canadian parliament, shots fired inside Parliament Hill; Update: "Numerous gunmen," says Ottawa PD; Update: 3rd site reports shooting; Update: PD says one gunman dead; Update: Soldier dies

A gunman shot a Canadian soldier standing guard at a war memorial, then went inside the Parliament Hill building where the government convenes this morning. Dramatic video from the Globe and Mail shows police officers returning fire, which reportedly killed the suspect:

The crack of gunshots rang through the halls of Parliament Hill’s Centre Block on Wednesday after a gunman fired on soldiers guarding Canada’s main war memorial, sending MPs into hiding and all federal government buildings into lockdown.

Eyewitnesses said an armed man with long black hair emerged at the National War Memorial, fired about four times‎, and a guard went down. The gunman, who an eyewitness said was carrying what appeared to be a rifle, then ran toward Parliament Hill. …

In an indication that the situation remained tense, the RCMP sent out a warning advising people to stay out of harm’s way in downtown Ottawa shortly before 11 a.m. – more than one hour after the first shots were fired.  “Citizens are advised to stay off rooftops and away from windows in the downtown core. Avoid downtown core,” the force said via Twitter. 

Prime Minister Stephen Harper “is safe and has left Parliament Hill,” Jason MacDonald, his director of communications, said via Twitter. Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau and NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair were also reported to be safe.

There have been reports that more than one gunman was involved:

At least two people were shot after multiple gunmen opened fire on Parliament Hill Wednesday morning.

One of those shot appears to be a soldier. Several people were seen performing CPR before he was taken to hospital.

The other, shot just outside the Library of Parliament, may be one of the gunmen.

Bear in mind that reports of multiple gunmen are a common phenomenon during active-shooter cases. This report has an eyewitness, though, in the non-embeddable video, saying that both wore bandanas to cover their faces. There have also been reports that the soldier shot by the gunman has died, but that also hasn’t been confirmed.

More as this develops.

Update: ABC says that the gunman hijacked a car between shooting the soldier and going to Parliament Hill. They also note that Canada announced a terrorist alert yesterday:

Ottawa Police confirmed via Twitter a shooting took place at 9:52 a.m. Witnesses told Canada’s CTV they saw a man with long hair carrying a rifle and heard four shots fired the soldier, who was guarding Canada’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

A witness told Canada’s CBC the gunman then ran the short distance to Canada’s Parliament, jumped a wall, stopped a car at gunpoint and hijacked it, the witness said. The driver got out safely, then the man drove the car to the Centre Block on Parliament Hill — where the Prime Minister and other senior leaders have their offices. …

Tuesday Canada raised its national terrorism alert level, following an incident Monday in which a Canadian soldier was killed in a hit-and-run by a man suspected to have been a radicalized jihadist.

“This level means that intelligence has indicated that an individual or group within Canada or abroad has the intent and capability to commit an act of terrorism,” Jean-Christophe de Le Rue, a spokesman for the Public Safety Ministry said Tuesday, according to AFP.

If they had specific knowledge of an attack, or even a heightened awareness that one might take place, then questions will arise as to how the man made it inside the Parliament building.

Update: Ottawa PD thinks there were multiple gunmen, too:

There were “numerous gunmen” Wednesday morning at the Canada War Memorial shooting, said Marc Soucy of the Ottawa Police Service. Authorities are working to figure out if there were two or three gunmen, he said. Only one person was shot, Soucy said.

If the PD is saying that publicly, that seems rather significant. Still, bear in mind that witnesses can be unreliable in these cases, and that shots echo a lot to give the appearance of multiple locations. It’s the duty of the police to assume that more gunmen may be around until they establish otherwise. Hence this:

It may very well be the case that this is a coordinated attack on Canada’s government by terrorists, but after experiencing more than a few of these breaking-news reports on active-shooter situations, I’m erring on the side of caution rather than jumping to conclusions.

Update: CNN updates its report to discuss the “two or three gunmen”, and apparently noting an incident “near the Rideau Centre,” where Canada’s defence headquarters is:

There were “several shooting incidents in downtown Ottawa” on Wednesday morning, police said on Twitter. “Incidents occurred at National War Memorial, near the Rideau Centre and Parliament Hill.”

The way that is written might be to suggest that the war memorial is near the Rideau Centre. I’ll watch updates to see if there are any further clarifications on that point. Meanwhile, the US embassy has gone on lockdown, too.

Update: Hmmm …. coincidence?

Update: CBC and ABC both report that the shooting at Rideau Centre is a separate attack:

That may be why Ottawa PD is looking at “two or three gunmen.” That strongly suggests a coordinated attack, not a lone-wolf nutcase.

Update: CNN offers this map of the incidents thus far:

Update: PD confirms one gunman dead.

Update: AFP reports that the soldier shot at the memorial has died:

Our prayers go out to his family and friends, and to all of our friends in Canada today. They’re our neighbor and closest ally in more ways than just proximity.