Canada police missed chances to stop Parliament attacker: probe

Wed Jun 3, 2015 3:17pm EDT
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By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian police missed chances to stop a gunman who stormed into Parliament last October after killing a soldier, an official probe said on Wednesday, adding that the attack could have been much worse.

Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a convert to Islam who said he wanted to punish Canada for sending troops to Afghanistan and Iraq, ran right past a room where the prime minister was meeting legislators. He was quickly shot dead by security forces.

The attack revealed many shortcomings on Parliament Hill, where the four different agencies responsible for security did not have a single radio frequency they could communicate on and rarely cooperated, according to the four-part probe.

"The approach to the security and protection of Parliament Hill is highly inadequate," it said, citing a lack of planning, training and resources. The shootings "are a grim reminder that Canada is ill-prepared to prevent and respond to such attacks."

The assault in the nation's capital shocked a country with generally low rates of crime and prompted the government to unveil legislation boosting the power of authorities to prevent terror attacks.

Zehaf-Bibeau, 32, first shot dead a soldier at the War Memorial in central Ottawa on Oct. 22 and then made his way to the bottom of Parliament Hill, where he commandeered a car and headed for the Centre Block.

A policewoman spotted him and radioed a warning to a colleague near the building but the message was garbled, which meant no one stopped Zehaf-Bibeau from driving up to the entrance. The guards on duty immediately inside the doors were unarmed and could not stop the attacker.

Seconds later a group of Royal Canadian Mounted Police raced up to the front door of Centre Block and then stopped, since they were under standing instructions not to enter the building armed. They had to be ordered in by a supervisor.   Continued...

Armed RCMP officers approach Centre Block on Parliament Hilll following a shooting incident in Ottawa October 22, 2014.       REUTERS/Chris Wattie