Even as downtown Ottawa remained in lockdown and residents cowered surrounded by a sea of police officers, Canadians took to the Internet Wednesday to praise one man who may have prevented further bloodshed.
Kevin Vickers, a 29-year veteran of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who was appointed sergeant-of-arms of the House of Commons in 2006, was identified as the man who shot and killed a gunman in the Parliament building Wednesday morning. Craig Scott, one of the members of Parliament who was barricaded inside a caucus room as the shooting raged outside, hailed Vickers' actions on Twitter.
"MPs and Hill staff owe their safety, even lives, to (Vickers) who shot attacker just outside the MPs' caucus rooms," Scott wrote.
Vickers, a native of Miramichi, New Brunswick, just east of the Canadian border with Maine, is a career law enforcement official who has led a wide-ranging career. From serving as the aide-de-camp to the lieutenant governor of New Brunswick to the chief superintendent of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to protecting foreign dignitaries, he worked his way up the ranks before being named sergeant-at-arms.
When he was appointed to the post in 2006, Rob Nicholson, then-leader of the House of Commons, praised Vickers' deep background in safety and security and said he had "every confidence" Vickers would fulfill that role.
Judging by the reaction online Wednesday, Vickers did just that.
Minister of Veterans Affairs Julian Fantino wrote that he was "safe (and) profoundly grateful" to Vickers and his team. Justice Minister Peter MacKay wrote "Thank God" for Vickers and his team, calling them "true heroes."
Vickers' brother, John, told CBC News that Kevin called their mother shortly after the shooting to let her know he was fine. And even though Ottawa remains on high alert over the possibility of other shooters, the family was able to take comfort knowing it could've been far worse.
"I just couldn't be prouder of him right now," John Vickers said.