October 24, 2014 - 9:35 AM
TORONTO - The body of a reservist gunned down at the National War Memorial this week in a shooting that all but paralyzed the nation's capital was expected to arrive in his hometown of Hamilton via the Highway of Heroes on Friday evening, police said.
The motorcade carrying Cpl. Nathan Cirillo was expected to leave Ottawa at about 1 p.m. for the trip, which was expected to last about six hours.
Further details were yet to be announced but Hamilton police said they and members of Cirillo's regiment, the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, would accompany the casket.
The Department of National Defence provided no information.
The Highway of Heroes, which has frequently seen the repatriation of soldiers killed in Afghanistan, is the stretch of Ontario's Highway 401 between Canadian Forces Base Trenton and Toronto.
Canadians holding supportive signs or waving the Maple Leaf have often filled the overpasses to show their respects to slain soldiers as they were driven by.
Cirillo, 24, the father of a young son and described as a happy-go-lucky, always smiling man who loved dogs, the outdoors and fitness, is expected to get a full regimental funeral, likely on Tuesday.
He and his partner, Cpl. Branden Stevenson, were on ceremonial sentry duty at the war memorial on Wednesday when a gunman shot him in the back with a shotgun before storming into the Centre Block on Parliament Hill.
The gunman, identified as Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, 32, was shot dead, apparently by Sergeant-at-Arms Kevin Vickers. While a motive remains unclear, authorities have said Zehaf-Bibeau was trying to get a passport to travel to Syria and may have had some contact with a known Islamist extremist.
Books of condolence to Cirillo have been set up in Hamilton and Ottawa and there's been an outpouring of supportive messages and grief at his home, his regiment and online.
A fundraising campaign had raised almost $143,000 of a hoped-for $200,000 — including $100,000 from the country's five big banks — as of late Friday morning.
Cirillo's grieving parents and sisters have so far not spoken publicly.
The killing was the second of a soldier this week.
On Monday, Warrant Officer Patrice Vincent, 53, was fatally injured when a man identified as Martin Rouleau used his vehicle to run him and a colleague down in a parking lot of a federal building south of Montreal.
Rouleau, 25, fled the scene but was later shot dead after a pursuit in which his car rolled over. Friends said he had become increasingly radicalized.
There's been no word on funeral arrangements for Vincent.
The country's political leaders on Thursday made a show of unity in light of what was branded as a terrorist attack and security at military bases has been stepped up.
On August 24, 2007, the portion of the highway between Glen Miller Road in Trenton and the Don Valley Parkway/Highway 404 Junction in Toronto was designated the Highway of Heroes. This portion of road is travelled by funeral convoys for fallen Canadian Forces personnel from CFB Trenton to the coroner's office in Toronto. In this photo, people line the overpass in 2008 to pay respects to a fallen soldier.
Image Credit: Flicker: Christina Matheson: Wikipedia
News from © The Canadian Press, 2014