Barely 24 hours after a gunman attacked Parliament Hill in Ottawa, killing a soldier, lawmakers gave a standing ovation to Kevin Vickers, the legislature’s sergeant-at-arms, for reportedly firing the shots that took down the assailant.
Vickers, 58, stood at attention and appeared close to tears before the House of Commons as the applause wore on. He’s being regarded as a hero in Canada for keeping the gunman from penetrating farther into the parliamentary compound.
The CBC reports that Vickers is credited with shooting the assailant inside the Hall of Honour, the main entrance to Centre Block.
Vickers became sergeant-at-arms in the House of Commons eight years ago after spending nearly three decades in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, where he rose to the rank of superintendent, the news agency says.
The Globe and Mail describes the sergeant-at-arms as “the person responsible for the safety and security of the Parliament buildings and occupants, and ensuring and controlling access to the House of Commons. It also includes a ceremonial function — carrying the ceremonial gold mace into the House of Commons before every sitting.”
“I just couldn’t be prouder of him right now,” John Vickers said of his brother.
When asked about Vickers’ reported heroics, his cousin Keith said, “It’s Kevin being Kevin,” according to the CBC.
The House of Commons observed a moment of silence for Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, who was killed by the gunman as he stood a ceremonial guard at the National War Memorial near Parliament Hill. Members of Parliament also joined in singing the national anthem, “O Canada.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper, addressing the assembly, thanked Vickers for his service. He said the objective of the attack was to instill fear and panic in Canada and to interrupt the business of government.
He called on Parliament to expedite plans to give Canada’s security establishment more surveillance and detention powers.