Alberta labour minister came within feet of Ottawa gunman

“Surreal.”

That’s how Alberta Labour Minister Ric McIver described coming within feet of the suspect in Wednesday’s shooting spree in Ottawa.

McIver was leaving Parliament Hill after meeting with his federal counterpart, Labour Minister Jason Kenney, when the suspected shooter pulled up in a car and ran past him into the main Parliament building.

At that point, he didn’t know the gunman had already shot and killed Hamilton reservist Cpl. Nathan Cirillo at the National War Memorial.

Ric McIver described the suspect as a Caucasian with shoulder-length hair and a three-quarter length jacket and a rifle with a very long barrel.

The MLA for Calgary-Hays said he weighed trying to tackle the suspect, but that the distance would have likely given the gunman room to fire on him. 

McIver took cover behind a vehicle as the attack continued. 

“He would have been more of a target than a deterrent,” his wife Christine McIver told the Westerly News.

McIver tweeted a picture of the vehicle he said the suspected shooter arrived at the site in.

Authorities said Wednesday the suspect hijacked the car at gunpoint and drove it to Parliament, where he reportedly fired multiple shots before being shot dead byHouse of Commons sergeant-at-arms Kevin Vickers.

Christine McIver said Wednesday her husband has close connections within the Canadian military community.

“Ric’s feeling very, very sad for (Cpl. Cirillo). His heart is very heavy for that family tonight,” Christine said.

McIver was glad to be headed back to Alberta on Wednesday night, Christine said.

“He’s very proud to be a Canadian, but this is a dark day,” she said. 

jcarmichael@westerlynews.ca