Valerie Bell, who was born and raised in Ottawa, works just steps away from the National War Memorial — where the shooting started.
"I'm very sad, walking up here today. I'm very sad for that gentleman; trying not to cry on my way to work," she said early Thursday morning, before sunrise, referring to the soldier who died in Wednesday's shootings in the Nation's Capital.
"Things are going to change. I walk down this street every day at this time of day. My gosh, Ottawa is beautiful, it's calm, we're safe. Well, that feeling is a little bit gone.
"I think it can happen anywhere now. We did think we were safe, because we've never had to deal with this. ... We were always so cushioned, it seemed, and now we're part of all that chaos. And hopefully people aren't going to be so afraid and not know what to do, that we can still stay strong and be smart about it. ... It's an awakening."
Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, 24, was shot while on honorary guard at the war memorial. Ottawa police announced hours later that he had died. The suspected gunman was shot dead inside Parliament nearby.
Bell, like many other workers in downtown Ottawa, spent much of Wednesday in lockdown with her colleagues as the chaotic and tragic events unfolded.
"You couldn't leave, you couldn't get to your car. It was just, not fun. But I'm also grateful that they did do the lockdown, that they reacted so quick, that the streets were bare," she said.
"At the same time, we're watching the commotion on our computers. Nobody could work. It's not time to work. ... We cried. We cried. We were all sitting together around one computer, and just watching what was going on, and just being there for each other."-