As you have no doubt heard a member of the Canadian military and an attacker were killed today in the Canadian Parliament complex in Ottawa in what appears to be the second ISIL-inspired ‘lone wolf’ terrorist attack in Canada this week. Amidst all the other details and repercussions of this incident, there’s one detail that I didn’t fully grasp until this evening. And that is that the guy who shot and killed Michael Abdul Zehaf Bibeau, thus ending the attack, wasn’t just someone from the Sergeant-at-Arms office but the actual Sergeant-at-Arms, 58 year old Kevin Vickers – the holder of an office that is largely ceremonial in nature.
You can see him here in his usual get-up, with that humongous mace he carries around – I assume only on formal occasions.
Here he is handling a rather less high stakes security situation (escorting out a protestor) during the Speech from the Throne in 2011 …
And here he is during the chaotic situation today, apparently just after shooting Bibeau. You can see the handgun in his right hand at his waist.
The shootings happened as the parties were holding regular caucus meetings. The parliamentarians barricaded themselves in their meeting rooms as the gunman was at large in the halls of the building. According to one account, after shooting Bibeau, Vickers entered the Conservatives’ caucus meeting and cooly explained “I put him down,” referring to the attacker.
Photo via Twitter @evansolomoncbc
Here Vickers is walking the halls of Parliament just after the shooting, again with the handgun in the right hand.
It’s no disrespect to note that quotes ascribed to figures in the immediate aftermath of events like this are sometimes slightly more cinematic than they were actually uttered in the moment. But however he announced what had happened to the huddled MPs, there’s little gainsaying this composed, rather bravura performance, that likely saved some and perhaps many lives.
It is little surprise that he’s being toasted as a hero tonight in Canada.
Vickers served in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police for 29 years. He was appointed Sergean-at-Arms in 2006.