Chaos reigned over the Canadian capital of Ottawa on Wednesday when at least one gunman opened fire in the Parliament and the nearby National War Memorial, police said.

Ottawa Police Chief Charles Bordeleau confirmed that an attacker and a soldier were killed. He said the situation remained fluid and that "all measures have been taken to ensure the safety and security of our residents."

Police were investigating multiple reports of shootings and pursuing suspects after at least one gunman shot the soldier at the war memorial and sprinted toward Canada's Parliament building, sending bystanders and members of Parliament scrambling for safety, police said. Witnesses said shots then rang out when a man entered the building, where members were holding meetings.

Ottawa Hospital said it received three patients after the shootings, and two were in stable condition. The condition of the third patient was not released.

In Washington, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the nation's thoughts and prayers are with Canada, particularly the family of the slain soldier. Details of the incident "are still sketchy," he said, and it was too early to determine if the attack was an act of terrorism.

President Obama spoke to Prime Minister Stephen Harper, offering U.S. assistance. Earnest confirmed that homeland security adviser Lisa Monaco is updating Obama on the shootings.

Harper is expected to make a statement on the tragedy later Wednesday.

In Ottawa, police confirmed a man opened fire at the National War Memorial outside the government complex shortly before 10 a.m., hitting a soldier who was standing guard. Jason Kenney, an MP and Minister of Employment, Social Development & Multiculturalism, tweeted: "Condolences to family of the soldier killed, (and) prayers for the Parliamentary guard wounded," Kenney wrote. "Canada will not be terrorized or intimidated."

Ottawa police Constable Marc Soucy could not verify whether police were looking for multiple shooters, as some media outlets were reporting. He said only that the response was ongoing throughout Ottawa.

"Most of downtown Ottawa is in lockdown," Soucy said.

A video taken by a reporter with the Globe and Mail shows police officers responding to the incident in the Parliament building. Officers are seen walking slowly through the building toward its entrance with guns drawn when the sound of a gunshot rings out, followed the sound of additional shots.

Earlier Wednesday, Tony Clement, a member of parliament, sent out a tweet saying at least 30 shots were fired near a caucus meeting in the Parliament building, prompting the legislators to pile out of the room. "I'm safe with 3 colleagues but we're still at risk," he wrote.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police sent out a tweet about an hour after the first reports of gunfire, warning residents near the downtown core of Ottawa to stay off rooftops and away from windows. The U.S. Embassy in Ottawa went into lockdown shortly after the shootings. The Canadian Embassy in Washington was also placed on lockdown as a precaution.

The shooting comes during a tense period for Canada, which has seen its terrorist threat level raised by the government and a military member killed by a man who was under surveillance for possible terrorist ties.

On Monday, police say Martin Couture-Rouleau drove his car into two members of the Canadian military, killing one and injuring the other. Couture-Rouleau — who federal authorities had been investigating after fearing he had become radicalized by jihadist groups — then led police on a high-speed chase during which he was shot and killed.

The event followed an announcement Friday by Canada's Ministry of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness raising the country's domestic terror threat level from low to medium.

The ministry told CP24 news in Toronto that the increased call for vigilance was not in response to a specific threat, but instead tied to "general chatter" from radical Islamist organizations like the Islamic State, al-Qaida and others that pose a threat to Canadians.

The concerns over Canada's vulnerability to terrorist threats was also the basis for a proposed change in the nation's counterterrorism laws just last week. Steven Blaney, Canada's Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, announced Thursday a bill to update the country's ability to track and arrest people suspected of terrorism.

In announcing the proposed change to the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act, Blaney said that threats to Canada are "now more complex and diffuse."

"Now, more than ever, a radical individual or group can do significant harm to Canada" he wrote.

Contributing: David Jackson in Washington; The Associated Press

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