The Islamic convert that police say killed a soldier in Ottawa and then rampaged through Canada’s parliament before being shot dead was a misfit and perhaps mentally ill, according to friends and family, and his troubled and transient past included robbery and drug offenses.
Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, 32, a Canadian citizen, was identified by police on Thursday as the attacker in the incident that rocked Canada and sent shock waves abroad, Reuters reported.
“(He) was lost and did not fit in. I his mother spoke with him last week over lunch, I had not seen him for over five years before that,” a woman who identified herself as Zehaf-Bibeau’s mother said in a statement provided to the Associated Press.
Police said Zehaf-Bibeau shot and killed a soldier stationed at the National War Memorial in Ottawa on Wednesday before running into the nearby parliament buildings, where he was shot and killed by guards in a flurry of gunfire.
US officials said they had been advised that Zehaf-Bibeau was a convert to Islam.
Several years ago Zehaf-Bibeau was known to have attended the Masjid Al-Salaam mosque in Vancouver, where he met David Bathurst, also a convert to Islam, David’s father, John Bathurst, told Reuters. John Bathurst offered Zehaf-Bibeau some work with the family’s sprinkler company in 2011, but he only lasted two days on the job.
Wednesday’s shooting was the second attack on Canadian soldiers in a week. On Monday, Martin Couture-Rouleau, a 25-year-old who converted to Islam last year, rammed his car into two soldiers in the Quebec town of Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and was shot dead by police. One of the soldiers later died.
Meanwhile, the guard credited with killing Zehaf-Bibeau fought back tears as lawmakers greeted him with a prolonged standing ovation, cheers and whistles on Thursday when he resumed his duties.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and fellow lawmakers stood for a thunderous, minutes-long ovation as Kevin Vickers, the House of Commons’ Sergeant-at-Arms, led the traditional parade that opens every House session, dressed in ceremonial garb.
Vickers, a former Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer who is in charge of parliamentary security, was reportedly in his office on Wednesday morning when a gunman ran into parliament, with police and security guards in pursuit.
Vickers, 58, drew his handgun and fired multiple shots at the gunman, Zehaf-Bibeau, close to where Harper had been addressing his Conservative caucus.
Zehaf-Bibeau, who was firing a 30-30 Winchester lever-action rifle, died in the hail of bullets.
“I am very touched by the attention directed at me following yesterday’s events,” Vickers said in a statement that shared credit with his security team. “As this is an ongoing investigation, I unfortunately cannot comment any further at this time.”
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