A man who rammed his truck through a gate at Rideau Hall Thursday was loose on the grounds with a gun for 13 minutes before police laid eyes on him, the RCMP said Friday.
Mounties then talked to the man for more than 90 minutes before the suspect finally gave himself up and was arrested.
Deputy Commissioner Mike Duheme said the man, who police have not yet officially identified, will be charged with multiple offences today and is already in court awaiting a bail hearing. Police and the Department of National Defence have confirmed the suspect is a member of the military.
Duheme said the man had “several weapons” on him at the time, including at least one gun, but was not known to RCMP prior to Thursday.
“I am very proud of all our people and our partners who moved fast and acted decisively to contain this threat,” Duheme said.
At a morning news conference Duheme walked through the events of Thursday morning, starting around 6:30 a.m. when the man drove his large pickup truck through the Thomas Gate on the grounds of Rideau Hall. That’s a secondary entrance near the main gate to the grounds, wide enough to admit a vehicle but typically used by pedestrians.
The man made it about 120 metres along a footpath in the truck before it became disabled and he abandoned it there, Duheme said.
The man then ran up a path, carrying what looked like a rifle, to Rideau Hall’s rose garden. He hid there for three minutes before then continuing along footpaths to the greenhouses that are attached to the back of the Governor General’s residence itself.
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette normally lives at Rideau Hall. A short path leads from the back of the greenhouses through a stand of trees to Rideau Cottage, which is the current residence of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his family.
“I want to stress that there was never any danger to the prime minister and his family nor the governor general as neither were on the grounds at the time of the incident,” said Duheme.
At a separate news conference Friday morning Trudeau said this is the kind of event nobody wants to happen but that he is thankful it was resolved without anybody getting hurt. He deferred all other questions back to the RCMP.
Duheme said National Capital Commission staff noticed the abandoned truck very quickly and alerted Commissionaires on site at Rideau Hall. The Commissionaires then spotted the man walking on the path with a gun towards the buildings and alerted police. The RCMP security detail on the grounds spotted the suspect around 6:40 and a site−wide lockdown was ordered but police did not confirm they had visual contact with the suspect until 6:43 a.m.
At 6:45 a.m. the officers began speaking to the man, Duheme said. The suspect did not respond until 6:53 a.m., giving police his name and some other information. The police and the suspect talked for an hour and 42 minutes before the man was taken into custody at 8:29 a.m.
“I cannot emphasize enough how effective our members were in being vigilant, reacting quickly and using successful de−escalation technique to resolve this highly volatile incident swiftly and without injury to anyone,” said Duheme.
Duheme said police have some idea of the motive for the events but will not speak about it publicly yet because of the ongoing investigation.
He said immediate security changes have been made at Rideau Hall as a result, but noted the RCMP never discuss the security that protects either the governor general or the prime minister.
A chemical, biological, radioactive, nuclear and explosive weapons team was brought in to search the suspect’s vehicle as a precaution, said Duheme.
© The Canadian Press