The mother of the man accused of killing a soldier at Ottawa’s war memorial then storming Parliament before being shot dead says she is crying for the victims of the shooting, not her son.
Susan Bibeau said she did not know what to say to those hurt in the attack. “Can you ever explain something like this?” she said. “We are sorry.”
Investigators offered little information about the gunman in Ottawa, identified as 32-year-old petty criminal Michael Zehaf-Bibeau.
Canadian police said today that Zehaf-Bibeau was the lone gunman, but it was the second attack of its kind in three days in what the prime minister described as Isil-inspired terrorism by recent Muslim converts.
Mrs Bibeau she was devastated for the victims of the attack.
“If I’m crying it’s for the people,” she said, struggling to hold back tears. “Not for my son.”
Mrs Bideau and her husband had earlier sent the Associated Press a lengthy email expressing horror and sadness at what happened. “I am mad at my son,” the email said, explaining that he seemed 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,” the email said. “So I have very little insight to offer.”
Police confirmed they were satisfied there was one attacker and there was no longer a threat to public safety.
The two attacks stunned Canadians and raised fears their country was being targeted for reprisals for joining the US-led air campaign against the extremist group Islamic State (IS), often known as Isil (Islamic State of Iraq and Levant).
Yesterday, Prime Minister Stephen Harper visited the National War Memorial where the soldier was killed to lay a wreath.
A man was detained by police nearby for trying to breach the crime scene and is only likely to face minor charges.
Earlier, Mr Harper called the shooting the country’s second terrorist attack in three days. A man Harper described as an “Isil-inspired terrorist” on Monday ran over two soldiers in a parking lot in Quebec, killing one and injuring another before being shot to death by police. Like the suspect from the shooting in Ottawa, he was a recent convert to Islam.
Witnesses said the soldier posted at the National War Memorial, identified as Corporal Nathan Cirillo, was gunned down at point-blank range by a man carrying a rifle and dressed all in black, his face half-covered with a scarf.
The gunman appeared to raise his arms in triumph, then entered parliament, a few hundred yards away, where dozens of shots soon rang out.
People fled the complex by scrambling down scaffolding erected for renovations, while others took cover inside as police with rifles and body armour cordoned off the area.
On Twitter, Canada’s justice minister and other government officials credited 58-year-old sergeant-at-arms Kevin Vickers with shooting the attacker just outside the MPs’ caucus rooms.
Mr Vickers serves a largely ceremonial role at the House of Commons, carrying a sceptre and wearing rich green robes, white gloves and a tall imperial hat.
At least three people were treated for minor injuries.
In Washington, US president Barack Obama condemned the shootings as “outrageous” and said: “We have to remain vigilant.”
Mr Harper vowed that the attacks will “lead us to strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts” to keep the country safe and fight terrorists.
Court records that appear to be the gunman’s show that he had a string of convictions for assault, robbery, drug and weapons offences, and other crimes.