Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Meet the hero who shot down Parliament Hill gunman

Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers is pictured in the Senate chamber on
Parliament Hill in Ottawa in this file photo from June 3, 2011. According to
Veterans Affairs Minister Julian Fantino, Vickers shot dead one of the suspects
in the Oct. 22, 2014 shooting incident on Parliament Hill. (Reuters)
CALGARY (Toronto Sun) - He’s being called a hero for shooting a rampaging gunman dead on Parliament Hill — and it may mark the first time Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers has ever fired a gun in the line of duty.

“This the first time in his career that he’s shot anyone,” said Erin, Vickers’ niece.

A retired RCMP officer who once served in Calgary, 58-year-old Vickers is known to most Canadians as the symbol of order at the House of Commons: a grey-haired man in a black hat and robes, often carrying the ceremonial sceptre of Canada over his shoulder.

On Tuesday, Vickers reportedly showed just how serious his role really is, the head of security for Canada’s government killing a gunman who charged into the Centre Block on Parliament Hill.

“To all in Ottawa, stay safe & strong. Thank God for Sgt at Arms Kevin Vickers & our Cdn security forces. True heroes…” tweeted Justice Minister Peter MacKay.

Julian Fantino, Canada’s Minister of Veterans Affairs, added his own tweet of gratitude: “I am safe & profoundly grateful to Sgt at Arms Kevin Vickers & our security forces for selfless act of keeping us safe.”

After the shooting, Vickers immediately contacted his family in New Brunswick to tell them he is safe — “I’m doing okay,” he said — but that hasn’t stopped them worrying about the emotional trauma that will follow, having being forced to pull the trigger for the first time.

“We’re always very proud of Kevin, but at this moment we are concerned about him — he had to make a very serious decision today,” said Mary, Vickers’ older sister.

“He’s always a natural leader. He would not have taken this decision lightly, and I can’t stress that enough — but he would always expect of himself to do what he would expect of the men and women under him.”

Raw footage of the Centre Block attack shows officers and guards moving cautiously down the hall before gunfire suddenly erupts, with dozens of shots echoing in the distance.

Various witnesses have credited Vickers with leading the security response and killing the infiltrator, a man who may have been the same cold-blooded murderer who gunned down an unarmed solider outside the national cenotaph moments before.

Anyone who thought Canada’s sergeant-at-arms role was an archaic novelty now understands the man holding the sceptre has a deadly serious job.

“It’s not ceremonial at all, and he has tremendous responsibility — and he wears it well,” said Mary.