The Canadian man who was shot dead after he killed a soldier and invaded the country's Parliament was in Ottawa applying for a passport and was hoping to leave for Syria, a top police official said today.
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Police released more information about Wednesday's shooting as information emerged that Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, 32, had largely lost contact with his parents, had become homeless and his angry demeanor prompted a mosque last year to ask him to leave.
Zehaf-Bibeau had been in Ottawa since Oct. 2 to apply for a new passport, police said, and that "was hoping to leave for Syria." RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson said today that Zehaf-Bibeau's mother told investigators that her son planned to go to Syria. Paulson said officials thought he was planning to go to Libya, his father's homeland, which would not have raised concerns. Syria has become a magnet for radicalized Islamists fighting for the militant ISIS or other radical Islamic groups.
"I think the passport figured prominently in his motives," Paulson said.
"His mother told us yesterday that he wanted to go to Syria," Paulson added.
Paulson said discounted any connection between Zehaf-Bibeau and a man with jihadist sympathies who ran into two Canadian soldiers, killing one, on Monday. He said, however, that investigators do have "information that suggests an association with some individuals that shared his [Zehaf-Bibeau's] radical views."
Zehaf-Bibeau had not been listed as one of the roughly 90 high risk travelers identified by Canadian police, but he was not allowed to be in possession of a firearm because of a criminal history.
Paulson said Zehaf-Bibeau was armed with a .3030 rifle during the attack. "The source of that gun is of tremendous interest to us," he said.
The commissioner said that initial reports during the chaos of the attack that there could have been as many as three shooters were determined to be false and that Zehaf-Bibeau acted alone. Paulson said law enforcement does not "have any intentions of making imminent arrests" in connection to the attack.
The mother of Zehaf-Bibeau said she was appalled by his actions.
"I am mad at our son, I don't understand and part of me wants to hate him at this time," wrote Susan Bibeau in a statement on behalf of herself and her husband, Bulgasem Zehaf. Bibeau, who has been the director general of Canada's Immigration Division since April 2009, gave the statement to the Associated Press.
Bibeau said she had no insight into her son's actions.
"I, his mother, spoke with him last week over lunch, I had not seen him for over five years before that. So I have very little insight to offer," she wrote.
During that time, her son did not remain in Canada. An American source briefed on Zehaf-Bibeau, 32, has revealed that he crossed over into the United States on four separate occasions. The most recent trip was in autumn 2013.
Around the same time as Zehaf-Bibeau's most recent trip to the United States, he was caught trying to illegally live out of a mosque in Burnaby, British Columbia.
Aasim Rashid, a spokesman for the British Columbia's Muslim Association, told ABC News that while he didn't know Zehaf-Bibeau personally, former administrators of the Masjid al-Salaam mosque told him that Zehaf-Bibeau was "in and out" for a couple of months in 2013.
"He had a problem speaking politely, used some vulgar language," Rashid said.
"He had some discussions with the administration that he was complaining that the mosque was so open and welcoming to Muslims as well as Non-Muslims," Rashid told ABC News. "The chairman sat him down and said, 'Look, this is how we run this mosque... The mosque has always been welcoming and will stay that way. And if you have a problem with that you're going to have go somewhere else.'”
Zehaf-Bibeau was reportedly arrested at some point during that period of time and after he was released, someone found him sleeping at Masjid al-Salaam, Rashid said.
"He had found a key there. He had been using the mosque to camp out. He did not have a home. The mosque asked him to leave and changed the locks," he said.
"He wasn’t acting all that normal. His demeanor was such that people around him didn't feel comfortable around him," Rashid said.
The gunman, whose full name is listed as Michael Joseph Paul Zehaf Bibeau in Vancouver court documents, had been arrested in the past.
In 2004, he was arrested on drug-related charges when he lived in Montreal, according to court documents. He was later charged with robbery in 2011 in Vancouver, though the outcome of both cases were not immediately clear, the documents indicate.
Bibeau apologized "apologize for all the pain, fright and chaos he created. We have no explanation to offer."
"No words can express the sadness we are feeling at this time," the statement read. "We are so sad that a man lost his life. He has lost everything and he leaves behind a family that must feel nothing but pain and sorrow. We send our deepest condolences to them although words seem pretty useless. We are both crying for them."
Aaron Katersky contributed to this report.