The head of Ottawa's parliamentary security is being hailed as a hero after he reportedly shot and killed a suspected male gunman who was trying to enter the caucus rooms.
Kevin Vickers, Parliament Hill's sergeant-at-arms and former member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, shot and killed the suspect, Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino told the Toronto Sun.
"All the details are not in, but the sergeant-at-arms, a former Mountie, is the one that engaged the gunman, or one of them at least, and stopped this," Fantino said. "He did a great job and, from what I know, shot the gunman and he is now deceased."
Vickers, a 57-year-old New Brunswick native, was appointed sergeant-at-arms in the House of Commons in 2006. Before that, Vickers, a 29-year veteran of the RCMP, served as director of security operations for the House of Commons, providing security services for dignitaries, including Prince Andrew and members of the Canadian royal family.
As sergeant-at-arms, Vickers is responsible for the safety and security of the parliamentary building. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper was in a caucus meeting inside Parliament's Centre Block when the gunfire erupted. He was taken to a secure location.
On Twitter, members of Parliament — some still in lockdown — credited Vickers with saving their lives.
MPs and Hill staff owe their safety, even lives, to Sergeant at Arms Kevin Vickers who shot attacker just outside the MPs' caucus rooms.
— Craig Scott (@CraigScottNDP) October 22, 2014
To all in Ottawa, stay safe & strong. Thank God for Sgt at Arms Kevin Vickers & our Cdn security forces. True heroes #cndpoli
— Peter MacKay (@MinPeterMacKay) October 22, 2014
I am safe & profoundly grateful to Sgt at Arms Kevin Vickers & our security forces for selfless act of keeping us safe
— Julian Fantino (@JulianFantino) October 22, 2014
Others, including journalists and former MPs, tweeted their praise for Vickers, too.
This is Canadian Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers who reportedly shot & killed one assailant. Ex-Mountie. Still got it. pic.twitter.com/jZr0jLvgEx
— Allie Renison (@AllieRenison) October 22, 2014
Remind me to hug Kevin Vickers next time I see him.
— kady o'malley (@kady) October 22, 2014
So sad for the family of the fallen soldier. So proud of Kevin Vickers. So mad about it all. So worried about what this will mean.
— Martha Hall Findlay (@MHallFindlay) October 22, 2014
More on Vickers via Yahoo News Canada:
Before being named Sergeant-at-Arms, Vickers was the aide-de-campe for the Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick and received the Queen’s Jubilee Medal, the Canadian 125 Medal and the RCMP Long Service Medal.
Vickers was the lead RCMP Inspector during the Burnt Church Crisis ― a series of clashes and shootings between members of the Burnt Church First Nations and non-native fishermen in 1999 and 2000 over the right to fish for lobster in New Brunswick.
He was honoured by the Community of Burnt Church for leading the crisis to a peaceful conclusion.
As news of the parliament shooting broke, Vickers' brother, John, tweeted that his thoughts were with his older sibling.
Thoughts are with my big brother Kevin Vickers.
— John Vickers (@Johnfvickers) October 22, 2014
Later, John told the CBC that that his brother called their mother at her home shortly after the shooting to tell her he was safe.
"I just couldn't be prouder of him right now," John said.
In an interview with the Canadian Press, Vickers' cousin Keith described him "a very intelligent and responsible person" and "a people person-type fellow, too, but you don’t want to mess with him."
Vickers’ niece Erin told the Toronto Sun that she believes it's "the first time in his career that he’s shot anyone."
“We’re always very proud of Kevin, but at this moment we are concerned about him — he had to make a very serious decision today,” Vickers’ older sister Mary told the paper. "He’s always a natural leader. He would not have taken this decision lightly, and I can’t stress that enough — but he would always expect of himself to do what he would expect of the men and women under him.”