12/18/2014 10:19 EST | Updated 02/17/2015 05:59 EST

Ernest Côté, 101, tied up and robbed in Ottawa home invasion

Ottawa police are investigating after 101-year-old Ernest Côté, a veteran of the Second World War, was tied up and robbed inside his apartment building in New Edinburgh on Thursday morning.

​Côté was alone in his second-floor apartment at 31 Durham Pvt. Thursday morning when, at 7:30 a.m., a man claiming to be a City of Ottawa employee asked to be buzzed into the building.

After the suspect was let in, he asked Côté for money at the door, and when he was refused he forced his way into the apartment, police said.

The suspect then tied the elderly man up, put a bag over Côté's head, searched the apartment and fled with cash and undisclosed items.

Once the suspect had left, Côté was able to free himself and call police. He suffered only minor injuries and did not need to be taken to hospital.

Julian Fantino, the federal minister of veterans affairs, tweeted about the incident Thursday, calling Côté his friend and a "Canadian hero."

The victim is with his family following the incident, his niece told CBC News.

Côté is a retired lieutenant colonel and veteran of the Second World War. In 2004 he received France's Legion of Honour Award for his military service in France during the war.

The Ottawa police robbery unit is leading the investigation.

The suspect is described as a white man, about 50 years old, with a fair complexion, prominent nose and short grey hair. He also possibly wore glasses, police said.

He was also wearing a driver’s style cap, a black winter jacket, black pants, black boots and black gloves. The suspect also carried a black bag that had a shoulder strap.

Police are asking anyone with information to contact the robbery unit at 613-236-1222, ext. 5116, or Crime Stoppers at 613-233-8477 (TIPS), toll free at 1-800-222-8477.