Randy Kamp reflects on Parliament Hill attack

MP heard 'dozens of gunshots' when attacker burst into building Wednesday morning

MP Nina Grewal posted this photo from inside Parliament's Reading Room during a lockdown following Wednesday's attack.

MP Nina Grewal posted this photo from inside Parliament's Reading Room during a lockdown following Wednesday's attack.

Pitt Meadows-Maple Ridge-Mission MP Randy Kamp said he and his fellow MPs heard “dozens of gunshots” during Wednesday morning’s attack on Parliament HIll.

The attack began with the shooting of a Canadian soldier stationed at the nearby National War Memorial just before 10 a.m. Eastern Time. The soldier, Nathan Cirillo, later died from his wounds. Shortly after, gunfire erupted in Parliament Hill’s Centre Block building. Dozens of gunshots rang out in the Hall of Honour, which is adjacent to Reading Room, where Prime Minister Stephen Harper was speaking to a caucus meeting of Conservative MPs, including Kamp.

Kamp and his fellow members of Parliament were uninjured in the incident, which ended when the gunman, later identified as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, was shot and killed by Parliament’s sergeant-at-arms, Kevin Vickers. Zehaf-Bibeau had a criminal record that included a conviction for uttering threats in Vancouver in 2011.

Even after the suspect was shot, members of Parliament remained locked down in their caucus room for hours as police officers cleared the building to ensure another possible shooter was not at large.

A photo from Conservative MP Nina Grewal posted to Twitter showed chairs and other furniture piled several feet high blocking the doors to the room.

Kamp told the Record Thursday that the sound of gunfire could be heard clearly in the caucus room and were a shock to those assembled inside.

“It’s a sound you don’t expect,” he said. “You don’t really know what’s going on…You hear dozens of gunshots, but you don’t know if it’s one individual or more.”

After spending hours in lockdown, Conservative MPs gathered at the Foreign Affairs building to watch the Prime Minister’s televised address.

This morning, MPs gathered in the House of Commons at 10 a.m., as scheduled. Kamp said the mood was anything but normal, with Vickers given a standing ovation and Harper embracing Liberal leader Justin Trudeau and NDP leader Thomas Mulcair.

“You could tell that people’s emotions were closer to the surface than they normally are,” Kamp said.

Kamp said his thoughts are with the families of the two soldiers killed this week and that he was grateful for the efforts of those who responded to the attack.

While he expects Parliament Hill security to be reviewed, Kamp said it’s important that the seat of Canada’s government remain open to the public.

“I think there’s going to be an effort to keep it accessible.”

Kamp said the shock the attack has generated demonstrates just how peaceful a country Canada usually is.

“I think we should feel grateful that an event like this is so shocking because in much of the world it might not be,” he said.

Kamp said he has also appreciated messages of support he and his colleagues have received from constituents.

“We’re moved by that and grateful.”

Local residents have been placing flowers at the cenotaph outside the Mission Legion Thursday to show their support.