(Surveillance video released by the RCMP shows Michael Zehaf-Bibeau running to the front door of Centre Block as two RCMP cruisers arrive too late.)
By Jorge Barrera
APTN National News
An NDP MP says the RCMP needs to let an external set of eyes review how an armed Michael Zehaf-Bibeau could run in off the street, carjack a ministerial limousine and drive it to the front door of Centre Block before any of the federal police force’s officers could stop him.
NDP MP Charlie Angus said he’d like to see an outside agency, like the Ontario Provincial Police which is probing Zehaf-Bibeau’s death, do a comprehensive review covering the whole morning of Oct. 22, from the first gunshot at the National War Memorial, to the last bullet fired in the Hall of Honour.
“We need a comprehensive review done by someone outside of the players. If the OPP have been brought in, then why the heck wouldn’t we have them do a full overview that can be brought back to Parliament and say these are the lessons we learned?” said Angus, who stressed he was speaking as an individual MP. “This is not about laying blame…We were lucky in a way that we were dealing with one deranged crazy person with not a lot of firepower and if Parliament Hill is attacked again and it’s a coordinated attack, it’s going to step on various jurisdictions.”
The RCMP has already asked the OPP to investigate Zehaf-Bibeau’s shooting death. The 32 year-old was killed in a hail of bullets fired by the RCMP and House of Commons security during a gun battle beneath the arching ceiling of Centre Block’s Hall of Honour. The OPP mandate, however, is limited to “the actions of RCMP officers inside the House of Commons.” It won’t touch on the federal police force’s initial response after Zehaf-Bibeau ran onto the grounds of Parliament Hill, said the RCMP in a statement to APTN National News.
The RCMP plans to investigate the response of its officers patrolling the Hill grounds internally, said RCMP Cpl. Sherley Goodgie, in the emailed statement. Goodgie said an “After Action Review” would probe the failure of the RCMP’s security cordon to intercept Zehaf-Bibeau.
Angus said security on Parliament Hill needs to become integrated and one of the first steps toward that goal would be figuring out exactly what went wrong last Wednesday.
“How the hell did he get that far in that short of a space of time, through four security details? That is a fair question, we need to get that answer,” said Angus. “What we are being told is that we are not going to live in silos, but we are going to do this (investigation) in silos? We are not going to learn everything.”
The Ottawa police is responsible for the area outside the grounds of Parliament Hill, the RCMP is responsible for the grounds and separate House of Commons and Senate security forces are responsible for guarding the inside of the buildings.
It took Zehaf-Bibeau 1:23 seconds to run from his parked car on Wellington St. through the eastern gate of Parliament Hill, carjack a ministerial limousine and drive up to the front door of Centre Block. On the way, Zehaf-Bibeau drove past an RCMP cruiser parked to the east of the Peace Tower.
Goodgie said RCMP officers on the grounds of Parliament Hill were “deployed as per our security posture” that morning. The RCMP assigns each cruiser on the Hill a geographical location to cover, according to previous testimony given by Kevin Vickers, the House of Commons Sergeant-at-Arms, to a Parliamentary committee.
In successive press conferences last week, RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson and Assistant Commissioner Gilles Michaud, who is in charge of National Division which is responsible for Hill security, argued that speed and surprise allowed Zehaf-Bibeau to slip through the federal force’s security cordon on a day Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Opposition leader Tom Mulcair and Liberal leader Justin Trudeau were meeting with their caucuses inside Centre Block.
“There are questions,” said Angus. “Things didn’t go right. Even though the killer was taken out…obviously things didn’t go right.”
The Office of the Chief Coroner of Ontario is also investigating Zehaf-Bibeau’s shooting death. Louise McNaughton-Filion, the eastern regional supervising coroner, said the investigation would determine whether the incident warranted a “discretionary inquest” by the Office of the Coroner.
“I can tell you that an investigation, a thorough investigation, is underway,” said McNaughton-Filion. “You can’t make any determination as to whether a discretionary inquest should take place until you have completed the investigation to the best of your ability.”
Filion said, under Ontario laws, inquests are immediately called into deaths that happen while in custody or on work sites. The Coroner’s Office, however, has the power to call an inquest if it is in the public interest and if it would benefit the public “to hear all the details,” she said.
Many questions still linger around how Zehaf-Bibeau was actually killed after he stormed through the unlocked front-doors of Parliament Hill’s Centre Block. A Globe and Mail video which captured part of the shootout and testimony from witnesses revealed that over two dozen shots were fired after the 32 year-old Libyan-Canadian entered the building.
Zehaf-Bibeau wounded one Hill security officer in the leg who reportedly tried to grab his rifle as he entered Centre Block.
Unless he reloaded his .30-30 Winchester, lever-action rifle after shooting Cpl. Nathan Cirillo at the War Memorial, Zehaf-Bibeau, had, at most, five bullets left when he burst through the doors.
RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson said Zehaf-Bibeau fired three shots at the War Memorial, two hitting Cirillo and one missing a second reservist standing guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. His rifle could carry up to eight bullets and is not a rapid-firing weapon.