Ottawa, Canada, Oct 23, 2014 / 08:57 am
The Archdiocese of Ottawa, Canada, released a statement canceling its annual charity dinner in the wake of yesterday's shooting, and urged Catholics to pray for all those affected by the violent act.
"Even though our annual Charity Dinner is an event which supports and shows our solidarity with the most vulnerable of our community, the tragic events of today take priority in the prayers, thoughts and actions of our Catholic community," Archbishop Terrence Prendergast said in an Oct. 22 statement.
"For this reason, I have decided to cancel the dinner which was scheduled for this evening at the Ottawa Event and Conference Centre on Coventry Road."
The archbishop's statement came after Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, a member of the Canadian Armed Forces, was gunned down by a man with a rifle while standing guard at Canada's National War Memorial. Minutes later, dozens of shots were fired from inside the parliament building.
Cirillo died from his injuries, while three others were admitted to the hospital and treated for non-life threatening injuries before being released, according to ABC News. The gunman was shot dead inside of the parliament building by Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers, 58, reports said.
According to BBC News, the gunman was reportedly a recent convert to Islam named Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, who had a history of minor drug offenses and theft, and who was described by a friend he met at a mosque as being unstable.
Zehaf-Bibeau, 32, was reportedly dubbed as a high-risk traveler, and his passport had been taken away due to suspected jihadist sympathies.
Yesterday's shooting comes a mere two days after another Canadian soldier was killed in a hit-and-run in Quebec. Authorities said that the act was carried out by a 25-year-old man who had recently been radicalized by Islamists and had also had his passport taken away.
Canada had recently announced that they will join the U.S.-led campaign of airstrikes against ISIS militants in Iraq, however police investigating the shooting have not confirmed whether it has any official link to ISIS or the country's new military campaign, BBC reports.
In a televised address aired late Wednesday, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper promised to step-up the country's anti-terror efforts.
"We will not be intimidated. Canada will never be intimidated," he said, but rather, "this will lead us to strengthen our resolve and redouble our efforts...to take all necessary steps to identify and counter threats and keep Canada safe."
Archbishop Prendergast closed his statement by thanking all those who worked to put the diocese's charity dinner together, and asked for prayers for those involved in the shooting.
"Let us offer our prayers to God in support of those who have been most affected by today's events. As we do, let us also thank God for the beauty of our country and for the blessings of peace and security which are the blessings bestowed upon Canadians."