OTTAWA - The Canadian soldier who was shot dead by a gunman while guarding the National War Memorial in Ottawa has been identified as Corporal Nathan Cirillo, a 24-year-old reservist from Hamilton, Ontario, with a young son.
Cpl Cirillo, who was serving with the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, was a dog lover and would post dozens of pictures of his pets and family on social media sites, The Telegraph reported.
At the time of his death, he was on guard duty and would have been carrying a rifle that was not loaded, said the report.
Cpl Cirillo was training to join the Canada Border Services Agency, which is responsible for border security, his aunt told The Globe and Mail. He was only on a short-term posting at the memorial, The Star reported.
Hours after Cpl Cirillo's identity was revealed, social media sites were created to honour him.
"He was the first friend I met ... We stood next too one another tge (sic) night we were sworn into the Argylls...He was a great dad," his friend Richard Halsall wrote on one memorial page, according to The Star.
His cousin David Cirillo expressed his grief through a post on Facebook: "To the gun man that shot my cousin point blank in front of the parliament hill this morning for no reason !! You will get what's coming to you. You destroyed my whole family for life."
One message from Bob Rodkin read: "RIP Nathan. Thank you for your service and the ultimate sacrifice. So tragic, so unnecessary. My prayers go out for you and to your family, friends and colleagues."
The soldier's smiling face was also posted on Twitter by tourists who had posed with him at the memorial in recent weeks.
On Wednesday, a gunman, dressed in dark clothing and wearing a white handkerchief over his face, approached Cpl Cirillo and fired two shots from a rifle at point-blank range, the Sydney Morning Herald reported. Cpl Cirillo was understood to have reached for the barrel of the gun before falling to the ground. Paramedics tried to revive him, but he died in hospital.
Tony Zobl, a witness who saw the tragedy unfold from his fourth-floor office window, said the gunman raised his arms in a display of triumph immediately after the shooting, said the report.
"It looked like the honour guard was trying to reach for the barrel of the gun," Zobl told The Canadian Press.
"The honour guard dropped to the ground and the shooter kind of raised his arms in triumph holding the rifle."
The gunman then stormed into the nearby Parliament buildings and opened fire, before he was shot dead.