Shots were fired Wednesday at the Canadian Parliament in Ottawa, killing one soldier, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, outside at the war memorial.
One gunman was confirmed dead by police hours after the incident, taken down by Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers.
According to officials, the shooter was Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, a recent convert to Islam with a decade-long criminal history. Bibeau wanted to travel to Israel, perhaps to join ISIS, but was denied a visa by the Canadian government.
Allan O’Donnell, a WSU Sodexo employee, first saw the news in the Union building’s food court.
O’Donnell said he saw something like this coming, since ISIS and radical Islamic groups were recruiting worldwide.
This comes only a month after Islamic State spokesman Abu Mohammad al-Adnani threatened countries opposed to violent jihad, including Canada.
Adnani told his followers to target citizens of France, Australia and Canada, all allies of America and Israel.
Just a week before the shooting, Canada raised its national terrorism alert to medium. A Canadian soldier was killed and another was injured a day before the shooting in a deliberate car accident in what some are calling another jihadist attack.
WSU alumnus Steven Pearce is a practicing Muslim who condemns the attacks as acting against the teachings of Islam.
“We’re not allowed to harm non-Muslims even by our spoken words,” Pearce said. “If you murder one person it’s like murdering all of mankind. If you save the life of one person it’s like saving the life of mankind.”
Pearce follows Sunni Islam, a sect that doesn’t recognize radical Islamic groups as legitimate. These radicals, according to Pearce, often recruit from the poor and unemployed, placing the blame for their hardships on Westerners.
This motivates recruits to commit violent acts of terrorism.
In the hours following the shooting, many on social media compared the shooting to 9/11 and hoped Canada would not change as America did a decade ago in response to the World Trade Center attack.
“If we make everything secure, this isn’t really a country that you want to live in. Price of living in Canada,” tweeted local resident @mc79hockey.
NBC news tweeted, “Ottawa shootings: The day Canada ‘lost its innocence’” with a link to their coverage.
Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper moved to strengthen the country’s terror laws in parliament a day after the shooting, echoing in a small way legislation passed by the U.S. in the aftermath of 9/11.
Pearce remembered the famous aphorism sometimes attributed to Benjamin Franklin, “Those who give up liberty for security deserve neither.”
“I don’t think putting more restrictions will prevent these types of things from happening,” Pearce said, adding that similarly, most school shootings happen in areas where guns are not allowed so people can’t defend themselves.
O’Donnell, on the other hand, thinks these changes are necessary to protect the government.
“The parliament is a pretty important building to Canada,” said O’Donnell. “I say if they tighten security so something like this doesn’t happen again, go for it.”