The Centre Block was full of MPs in the midst of various caucus meetings when the shooter drove up and burst in.
These are excerpts from interviews five B.C. MPs gave on CBC Radio One's On The Coast Wednesday afternoon:
Nathan Cullen (NDP), MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley
I was in my caucus room with the caucus meeting, and Tom [Mulcair] has just finished his speech. I was about to duck out of the caucus for a minute and reached for the back door to go out when I heard the banging. It sounded almost like trash can lids being slammed together quickly and very loudly.
As I went to go out the door, the security came in through the door with a look on his face that told me it wasn't a protest or some disturbance. So he shut us in, we locked up all the doors. We went to another door and barricaded that one and waited by the walls until we were given a chance to get out of the room and out of Centre Block and away from this.
It was many, many shots though... I don't know. I don't know if anyone's counted. It's hard to tell when you're in the moment, but at least 20, 30 shots were being exchanged over a significant period of time.
Hedy Fry (Liberal), MP for Vancouver Centre
We were actually going down to our own caucus. We has just left one regional caucus and we were walking out—Joyce Murray and I—and we suddenly heard this sound and it sounded as if there were a large number of large metal pipes that you use in scaffolding that were crashing around on top of each other.
We stopped and wondered what was going on, and then we heard some sounds that sounded like gunshots, but I didn't think they were at the time.
What really triggered it was that we saw a woman running up the stairs that we were about to go down screaming, "oh my God, oh my God, oh my God, holy shit."
At the same time, the security guards ran up to the two of us and said,"get into an office, lock the door, and do not open it."
Ron Cannan (Conservative), MP for Kelowna-Lake Country
Ron Cannon wasn't able to phone in to On The Coast for 4:30 p.m. PT, but he sent his regrets in a short email he was able to get through:
We are still in lockdown and my phone battery keeps running out of power. Phone charger is in high demand. We haven't been able to get any food today. Once we get released, I may go home and collapse.
Joyce Murray (Liberal), MP for Vancouver Quadra
What I heard was the shots. I was just coming out of a regional caucus meeting, heading for our 10 o'clock national caucus meeting. So I was in the hallway, just about to head down a set of stairs that go down right beside the rotunda, and I heard a sounds that sounded pretty unfamiliar, looked down the stairwell, couldn't see any reason [for the sound] but did then see a woman come racing up the stairs, yelling.
So, clearly, something was amiss, and that was my first indication that there was a problem.
Don Davies (NDP), MP for Vancouver-Kingsway
I was in the NDP caucus room, which is adjacent to the hall of honour—the Conservatives meet on one side and the NDP meets on the other—and I was standing at the microphone waiting to speak when I heard what sounded like the sound of a metal trolley slamming into a door. And then it was followed in rapid succession by another five or six sounds that were obviously gunshots that were just outside the door that we were meeting in.
We all raced to the door to try to block it and people hit the ground. And about 30 seconds later, there were another four shots that came from the north side of the room on the other side of the door. So, everybody then hit the ground, including us, and we turned tables over and chairs to protect ourselves because there was a fear that maybe some gunmen were going to come into the room and maybe open fire.
Wai Young (Conservative), MP for Vancouver South
I was just approaching the hill and on the lawn outside when I was told by the RCMP— because they had already received a 911 call from the shooting at the war memorial to lock down the building.
So I was told not to enter the building and to go back to my office and to be in lockdown mode. But, it was really shocking because I saw the car and had I been there three minutes earlier, I would probably would have walked right into the gunman.