The shooter who rampaged through Canada’s parliament was in Ottawa applying for a passport to travel to war-torn Syria and there was no connection to an attack earlier this week, the federal police commissioner said Thursday.
The man’s killing of a soldier at a cenotaph in the city’s downtown and storming of nearby parliament Wednesday were not linked to the deadly attack on a soldier in Quebec two days earlier, Royal Canadian Mounted Police Commissioner Bob Paulson told a news conference.
Investigators determined that the suspect in Wednesday’s shooting, identified by Paulson as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, had been in Ottawa since October 2 “to deal with a passport issue.”
“He was… hoping to leave for Syria,” the nation’s top cop said, adding that Zehaf-Bibeau’s travel plans were gleaned from the man’s estranged mother.
“There were concerns at the initial stage of the emergency response that there may have been more than one individual involved,” Paulson said.
But both the RCMP and Ottawa police agreed “that yesterday Zehaf-Bibeau acted alone,” he said.
It remains unclear whether Zehaf-Bibeau “received any support in the planning of his attack,” he added.
Police are also trying to piece together how he got his hands on a Winchester lever action shot gun, since he was restricted from owning any firearms due to past criminal convictions for drug possession and uttering threats in a mugging.
Paulson dismissed as a coincidence any link to the running over of two soldiers in a Quebec supermarket parking lot on Monday.
“We have no information linking the two attacks this week in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu and in Ottawa,” Paulson said.
Futhermore, “our investigation has not revealed any link between Zehaf-Bibeau and Martin Couture Rouleau,” he added.
Couture-Rouleau, the driver in the parking lot attack, was shot dead by police after crashing his car and brandishing a knife.
Couture-Rouleau had also sought to travel to Turkey to join the Islamic State group in neighboring Syria, but authorities seized his passport at the airport to prevent him from leaving.
Both the Monday and Wednesday attacks followed the deployment of Canadian fighter jets to join US-led airstrikes on the Islamic State in Iraq.