Michael Zehaf-Bibeau and Martin Couture-Rouleau: Two killers, one twisted objective
What we know about Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, the alleged gunman responsible for the Ottawa shooting death of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo Wednesday at the National War Memorial:
– He was born in 1982, and appears to have lived at various points in the Ottawa, Montreal and Vancouver areas. The CBC reports the 32-year-old spent his childhood in Laval, north of Montreal, where shocked neighbours remember him as as a sweet boy. One former neighbour told CTV she remembered Zehaf-Bibeau as a typical rowdy teen who “seemed to have a very good upbringing,” with caring parents.
– He has a criminal history. Multiple media reports cite charges of robbery and uttering threats in Vancouver in late 2011, with Zehaf-Bibeau pleading guilty to uttering threats the following year. Reuters cites three 2004 cases involving a Michael Zehaf-Bibeau in Quebec courts, two of them drug-related. One of those was a conviction for possession of PCP, the Ottawa Citizen reports, which came with a 60-day prison sentence. The Gazette also cites earlier charges involving a Michael Bibeau in cases involving robbery, possession of a weapon, fake credit cards and assault causing bodily harm.
– He had plans to visit Libya, but was unable to follow through, according to the Globe and Mail, which cited sources saying he was not able to secure a valid travel document. CTV News cited a source saying his passport had recently been seized — however, a Toronto Star report cited sources saying his old passport had expired and that his application process for a new one was ongoing. The same report said Zehaf-Bibeau’s previous passport had expired.
– He was not on the RCMP’s list of 90 people under investigation, nor a formally designated “high-risk traveller,” according to the Star.
– Zehaf-Bibeau’s mother, Susan Bibeau, is a division deputy chairperson within the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada. His father, identified as Bulgasem Zehaf, is a Quebec businessman with ties to Libya (the Gazette reports he was born there). CTV describes Zehaf as the man’s stepfather, or adoptive father, and says he once owned Café Tripoli in Montreal. The two reportedly divorced 15 years ago.
– Comments from Zehaf-Bibeau’s mother suggest the two were not in close contact. In a statement expressing grief for the victims of the shooting, Susan Bibeau said she’d had lunch with her son last week, but “had not seen him for over five years before that. So I have very little insight to offer.”
– Some acquaintances believe he may have suffered from mental illness. “I think he must have been mentally ill,” friend Dave Bathurst told the Globe, saying Zehaf-Bibeau frequently spoke of devils and demons. John Bathurst, a former employer, told the Citizen the man “seemed unstable” and “was not all there.”
– He worked briefly for a Burnaby, B.C., landscaping and irrigation company, but lasted only days. Company owner John Bathurst said his son, a convert to Islam, hired Bibeau after meeting him at an area mosque.
– U.S. officials described the man as having converted to Islam, Reuters reports.