OTTAWA (REUTERS) - Canadian lawmakers locked down inside parliament for up to 10 hours turned to Twitter to send messages to their friends and families letting them know they were safe albeit exhausted.
Politicians across the political spectrum, often at odds over serious issues, were united in their concern and dismay after a gunman launched an attack on the building.
Members of Parliament from the ruling Conservative and opposition New Democratic Party were meeting with their respective caucuses when a gunman launched an attack that began in the Centre Block building of the sprawling Parliament complex.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper had been addressing lawmakers, just 18 to 21 metres from where the gunman ended up being shot.
MPs sent pictures of green leather chairs piled up against the doors to prevent any possibly entry by the assailant.
"Shots fired during caucus meeting. At least 30 shots. MPs piled out. I'm safe with 2 colleagues but we're still at risk," tweeted Cabinet minister Tony Clement (@TonyclementCPC) earlier on Wednesday.
"PM (Harper) was in Caucus but now secure. Assuming it's not safe to venture out yet," he said moments later.
Ten hours later, some politicians were still in parliament as police swept downtown Ottawa. The gunman in the parliament building was shot dead. Police would not confirm whether there were multiple shooters.
"Still patiently awaiting rescue here in Centre Block. I feared this day would come, and my prayers are with the fallen soldier. Hug your fam (family)," Clement tweeted on Wednesday night.
Globe and Mail reporter Josh Wingrove (@josh-wingrove) tweeted a picture of New Democrat legislator Lysane Blanchette-Lamothe, 30, with her young child snuggled on her chest. There is a daycare in the complex for children of parliamentarians, staff and media who work there.
"Mom im okay Im in hiding," Conservative Michelle Rempel (@Michelle Rempel) tweeted soon after the shooting broke out.
Several hours later, Liberal Gerry Byrne (@Gerry-Byrne) seems to have poked his head out in the hallway, because he sent a picture of security personnel going door to door to secure the building he was in.
Liberal Sean Casey (@SeanCaseyMP) described joy at gaining access to toilets after some five hours: "SWAT team member just announced that the hallway adjacent to the room in which we are locked down is secure, and had a bathroom. #lineup"
Harper was spirited off Parliament Hill and received briefings from police, among others, but most members of parliament were stuck in various buildings.
"We are out of Pepsi here," Karl Bélanger, principal secretary to NDP leader Thomas Mulcair. (@KarlBelanger)