10/26/2014 04:00 EDT | Updated 12/25/2014 05:59 EST

Private visitation for Nathan Cirillo at funeral home in Hamilton

HAMILTON - Relatives and dignitaries paid their respects on Sunday to the soldier whose death at the foot of the National War Memorial in Ottawa shocked Canadians and sparked a massive outpouring of grief.

Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was standing guard at the monument when he was gunned down by a homeless man with a rifle on Wednesday.

His family, including his young son, gathered for a private visitation in his hometown of Hamilton. Ontario's lieutenant governor, Elizabeth Dowdeswell, and members of Cirillo's regiment, the Argyle and Sutherland Highlanders, also came to pay tribute to the fallen soldier.

Don Kennedy, a retired major who left the Argyles in 2006, didn't know Cirillo but said he heard of his dedication.

"He loved being a soldier, loved serving Canada," Kennedy said outside the Markey-Dermody Funeral Home.

"For this to happen within Canada is just unbelievably tragic. He had been in Afghanistan, where there is danger all over the place, and for him to survive Afghanistan and come back and be senselessly killed, that just adds to the tragedy."

Others wishing to voice their grief will get their chance Monday during a public visitation for the 24-year-old Canadian Forces reservist, scheduled from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Thousands of people _ some holding supportive signs or waving the Maple Leaf _ paid their respects to Cirillo as he made his final journey back to his hometown on Friday along the Highway of Heroes.

Cirillo's family issued a statement Friday evening thanking Canadians for their support.

Gunman Michael Zehaf Bibeau was shot dead by Kevin Vickers, the sergeant-at-arms of the House of Commons, after he entered Centre Block through the front doors, with RCMP in hot pursuit.

A regimental funeral for Cirillo is scheduled for Tuesday, and he is to be buried in a field of honour at a Hamilton cemetery.