He was a barrel-chested young man with a ready smile, a gym buff with a fondness for rescue dogs, and the very proud father of a sandy-haired boy who had just started kindergarten, people who knew Cpl. Nathan Cirillo said.
And he was near the end of an hour’s duty standing honor guard at the foremost monument to his nation’s fallen soldiers, the granite and bronze National War Memorial in central Ottawa, when a gunman shot and fatally wounded him on Wednesday morning.
Corporal Cirillo, 25, grew up in Hamilton, the country’s steel capital, at the western tip of Lake Ontario, and served in the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders, one of the Canadian Army’s largest reserve regiments, whose turn it was to guard the monument this week.
That duty is done in ceremonial dress. In his regiment, with its Scottish roots, that means a kilt, Glengarry bonnet, and the red garter flashes that Corporal Cirillo playfully described as “sexy” in a photograph of himself posted on his Instagram account. Guards at the monument typically carry a rifle, but it is not kept loaded, according to reports by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
In Hamilton, Corporal Cirillo worked out at the local Y.M.C.A., displaying a tattoo of his surname on his right bicep. His social media handle made reference to his Italian roots. Though he is separated from the mother of his son, the boy lived with him, friends said.
His bulk suited him well for a part-time civilian job as a bouncer at a nightspot called Club Absinthe. Shortly after his death, a post on the club’s Twitter account recalled how Corporal Cirillo would slip out of military fatigues and into his black polo shirt with the word “security” on the chest when he arrived for work.
“If he was kicking somebody out or getting somebody some water, or just checking IDs, the guy always had a smile on his face,” Billy Pozeg, the manager of the club, where Corporal Cirillo worked for two years, said in an interview. “He would take you aside and always ask you if you were all right, tell you some dumb joke, or something clumsy he did that day. As cool as he was, he always had that clumsy side.”
Corporal Cirillo dealt with conflicts at the nightclub door with words rather than fists, according to Linda Bolton, a veterinarian who cared for his two rescue dogs, Jagger and Kaya, and whose daughter Sarah was close to the corporal.
He used his strength instead to help others, she said, recalling a day in September when she went home to find Corporal Cirillo hoisting a sofa into a moving van for her daughter. He also worked occasionally as a personal trainer at the local Goodlife Fitness gym, Mr. Pozeg said.
Last month, the corporal brought a German shepherd puppy to Dr. Bolton that he had found tied to a fence post, covered in fleas. He later adopted the dog, she said. On Instagram, amid scores of pictures of him doting on his pets, Corporal Cirillo expresses outrage at anyone who could treat an animal with cruelty.