Ottawa’s police chief sent an email to some local community leaders, including one Muslim imam, to offer support and encourage communication following a series of shootings at Canada’s Parliament complex in Ottawa. An unidentified man shot and killed Wednesday a Canadian soldier at the National War Memorial before moving toward the Parliament building nearby. Later, a gunman was shooting in the Parliament building until he was killed by a sergeant-at-arms there.
Police said they cannot yet confirm if the man who shot the honor guard at the National War Memorial is the same man who was shot in the Parliament building, according to Reuters. Police have not yet confirmed the number of shooters, although reports from earlier in the day said police thought there was more than one gunman. They also do not have a motive for the shooting and there is no evidence it was perpetrated by radical Islamists. The letter may suggest police are investigating that possibility.
Many of capital’s government buildings were still under lockdown and were slowly being cleared as safe. Police were urging people to stay out of downtown Ottawa. Police have asked anyone with relevant information to come forward.
The full message from Chief Charles Bordeleau was published by imam and writer Sikander Hashmi. Hashmi and other local Muslim leaders condemned “all acts of terror in the name of Islam” and urged people to get in contact with police if they have information.
â€” Sikander Hashmi (@kanataimam) October 22, 2014
It’s not clear who besides Hashmi was sent the letter, but because it makes a point to reference faith, the Ottawa Police may be anticipating that people will connect the Parliament Hill attack with the attack in St. Jean de Richelieu that involved a recent Muslim convert and Islamic State group supporter who ran over two soldiers on the side of the road. One was killed and the man was later killed after a police chase. Ottawa Police could also be encouraging Muslims in the community to help identify potentially unsafe individuals like the man responsible for the St. Jean de Richelieu attack, who Canadian authorities had been monitoring.
“We understand that the recent tragic events in St. Jean de Richelieu [referencing the hit-and-run by a “radicalized” Canadian man], and today may be very challenging for members of our communities, and that this incident may exacerbate these challenges,” the message read.
“The Ottawa Police Service has a long standing collaboration with our various faith and communities [sic] leaders that have allowed us to build strong and positive relationships. With this in mind, I want to take this opportunity to reiterate my commitment to ensure the safety of all of our communities.”
“It is with this relationship in mind that we encourage you to share this information as widely as possible with members of your respective communities… “if at any time you or a member of your community feels that there is a life-threatening emergency or crime in progress, you are strongly encouraged to call 9-1-1,” it read.