TORONTO – A shooting rampage by a lone gunman at Parliament last October proved to be a "grim reminder that Canada is ill-prepared" to stop terrorist attacks in the capital, a new police report released Wednesday has found.
The Ontario Provincial Police report said the Royal Canadian Mounted Police provided "highly inadequate" security on Parliament Hill in Ottawa when Michael Zehaf-Bibeau entered the grounds on Oct. 22, 2014. RCMP assistant commissioner Gilles Michaud said there were missed opportunities to stop Zehaf-Bibeau from entering the building.
Zehaf-Bibeau shot to death Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, who was assigned to the honor guard at Canada's national war memorial. He then stormed Parliament where he was eventually gunned down.
The report, which calls Zehaf-Bibeau's shooting "the most serious security breach on Parliament Hill in history," provides graphic details of the rampage.
"Michael Zehaf-Bibeau raised and pointed his rifle at Cpl. Cirillo and fired one shot into his back," the report said.
As the soldier fell to his hands and knees and crawled toward the east side of the tomb, Zehaf-Bibeau fired another shot into Cirillo's lower back. "Cpl. Cirillo moved to the east side of the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier and laid on his stomach in the prone position. Zehaf-Bibeau moved toward the fallen soldier and fired a third and final shot into the back of Cpl. Cirillo," said the report.
A tourist pushing a baby stroller saw Zehaf-Bibeau run onto Parliament Hill and ran to an RCMP officer sitting in a cruiser nearby.
The woman tried to get into the back seat of the cruiser, fearing for her life, and delayed the officer long enough that Zehaf-Bibeau drove by in a commandeered vehicle.
Michaud said the officer tried to radio others about the gunman's presence, but her message was garbled and couldn't be understood.
The report indicates that in the early moments of the incident, which lasted just shy of two minutes, the Mounties were hesitant to enter the building "due to directives to never enter the building armed."
The police report said Zehaf-Bibeau was first fired at about seven seconds after he entered the building by a plainclothes guard, but kept on running.
He was then targeted by former sergeant-at-arms Kevin Vickers and an RCMP officer, who emptied their firearms in his direction, when he stormed the Centre Block. He was felled by 31 bullets, two of which were fatal. It remains unknown which bullet killed him.
The police report said the gunman wasn't wearing body armor and if he was more organized, the incident could have been worse.
The report says the RCMP's ability to protect Parliament Hill has been stretched by resource issues stemming from budget cuts imposed in 2012 by the Conservative government. The report cites a lack of "operational preparedness," including planning, training, communication and resources.
Michaud told a news conference Wednesday that the missed opportunities to stop Zehaf-Bibeau's attack were a result of systemic problems, not human errors.
Problems faced by the RCMP include the public's "unrestricted access" to the grounds, as well as the desire of members of Parliament and senators to have "unimpeded access" to the legislative chambers.
The police report recommends the unification of all security forces on Parliament Hill, something the government has already started to put into practice.