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Shooting in Canadian college

September 13, 2006

A mass shooting at a college in Montreal:

The man, clad in black, entered the canteen of Dawson College, in central Montreal, at lunchtime.

Some students fled in terror from the campus as he opened fire, while others barricaded themselves in classrooms. The dead woman was in her 20s. At least six of the injured are in a critical condition in hospital.

Montreal’s chief of police, Yvan Delorme, said the gunman was killed by officers after they stormed the building. Later, he told RDI Television that the young woman had died of her injuries in hospital.

Dawson College students described how the shooting began at about 1245 local time (1645 GMT), and how a total of 20 shots were heard over a half-hour period.

One witness described how the gunman, dressed in a black trench coat and military boots, appeared emotionless as he carried out the shooting. “He said nothing. He had a stone cold face… He just started opening fire,” said student Soher Marous. Others told of how he pursued terrified students along corridors and up stairwells. Those who could not escape barricaded the doors to classrooms and hid themselves under their desks…
BBC News: Gun rampage at Canadian college (emphasis mine)

You can read the whole article, and its companion article, “We hid under our desks”, and not see the phrase that originally caught my eye and prompted me to record the URL for later blogging.  Best I can remember it; “Police were seen with guns drawn, sheltering behind parked autos outside the building”.  But in the nine hours since seeing the article, that phrase is gone, replaced by the first phrase highlighted above.

When the Columbine shootings took place, the police secured the perimeter, established communication lines, connected with federal authorities, and did everything by the book while the two killers stalked around the school shooting people.  It would seem that police departments have at least learned the public-relations lesson of not letting that impression stand.

Still, note the second highlighted phrase: “20 shots heard over a half-hour period”.  The killer had a half-hour to wander around while the police got ready to “storm the building”.  I accept that there are probably good procedural reasons for this but the lesson is clear: if some whacko starts stalking around your building with a gun, you are on your own.

Categories: Geeky, Safety & Health
  1. September 14, 2006 at 06:24 | #1

    I am going to check other sources.  Reading the Toronto Star this morning and watching CBC Newsworld, I don’t get the sense that Gill was allowed 20 minutes before he was shot by a member of the Montreal police.  Police arrived on the scene within three minutes and, as you stated, police did not wait to set up a perimeter, etc., but went inside to hunt him down.

    He was confronted and when he did not drop his weapons, he was shot dead.

    I am in shock by all this.  The only comfort is that it wasn’t as bad as it could have been far worse.  Sadly, that is little comfort to the DeSousa and Gill families.

  2. September 14, 2006 at 07:37 | #2

    I heard about this last night from my sister.  What is with these idiots?  It will be interesting to discover what motivated this lunatic.

  3. September 14, 2006 at 11:56 | #3

    From the Globe And Mail:
    <ul><li>“As horrific as it was, the attack could have been much worse. Police arrived on site within three minutes of the gunman’s opening fire and, in their words, “neutralized” the shooter a short time later…”
    <li>“The first of more than 400 calls to 9-1-1 came at 12:41 p.m…”
    <li>“The incident was, for all intents and purposes, over by 1:10 p.m…”</ul>

    The police got there in 3 minutes – good.  Then they shot the guy “a short time” later.  Looks like a short time is about 20 to 30 minutes. There should be audio recordings that can be analyzed to give us the exact time.

    I am not faulting the police; I’m saying that 20 to 30 minutes in that situation would go by pretty slowly.

  4. September 14, 2006 at 12:20 | #4

    I think it’s also important to realize that when you send in police in this situation there are many factors that take place.  One important one being that it might be easy for an officer to confuse a dark dressed student for the actual killer.  And if there isn’t time allowed for students to leave the premise, then while police are trying to kill the killer, they might accidentally hit a student. 

    I’m not saying that we should always wait a period of time before hunting down these nutballs.  But rather making a guess as to why the protocol for these situations may be to wait.  And if waiting isn’t the protocol, then the question of what the hell where they waiting for, should certainly be asked.

    On a separate note, I would actually like to see more of these criminals captured alive, so we can do psychological screenings to see what makes them tick, and to hear their reasonings for the shootings.  From a psychology standpoint, we learn more about these kinds of people when they are alive, rather then dead.

  5. September 14, 2006 at 12:55 | #5

    I would actually like to see more of these criminals captured alive

    That would be great.  It would assist profilers who could possibly catch more of these before they happen.  Of course, sometimes they DO catch these ahead of time, which must be very satisfying to everyone involved in averting tragedy.

  6. September 14, 2006 at 20:06 | #6

    The first police into the building were officers who were already at Dawson College on another matter.  I imagine trying to find a (potentially) fast-moving shooter was frustrating.

    The report tonight on CBC is that the shooter was wounded in the arm by police, then took his own life with a shot to the head.

    The profile of this guy is easily discovered on vampirefreaks.com, through his postings if they are still up.

    This guy knew he was going to die in this manner, he worked toward it.  There really are two questions:

    How much pain must someone be in to choose suicide over living?  and

    How can families and communities do a better job of reading cries of pain and do whatever possible to try and heal?

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