One gunman is reported dead, with a possible second still at large, following a shooting rampage at a downtown Montreal college. Although only one death has been confirmed, CBC TV has been reporting four fatalities among the victims. The Montreal General Hospital has confirmed admitting eleven victims, eight of whom are in critical condition, yet there may be as many as 20 victims in total.
At approximately 1:00 pm on Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2006, witnesses reported seeing at least one young man, dressed in a large black trench coat and boots, with multiple piercings and a black Mohawk hairstyle, approach Dawson College. One witness, who was standing outside of the Alexis Neon Plaza across the street from the college said the gunman apparently pulled out what looked like a machine gun, and casually walked towards where she was sitting, and opened fire.
Witnesses described the shooter's appearance and said that he started firing outside. The suspect then entered the college, opening fire on students sitting in the cafeteria. Although the time line is difficult to determine as of yet, once the police arrived on the scene, the suspect backed into a corner of the cafeteria. A group of students, who found protection behind a wall, said that there was a lot of yelling and screaming going on between the police and the suspect, who continued to fire his weapon towards the officers as well as others. Although several witnesses reported that the gunman then turned the gun on himself, other reports claim he was shot by police.
Although there are conflicting reports, a possible second and/or third gunman may have been involved. When asked to describe the suspect, a young woman stated, "He was tall, his friends were shorter, they were all white." Another student, who saw and then fled from the gunman, said that she saw others running in terror from an entirely different direction, leading her to believe there was another shooter.
A woman, inside the school during the shootings and on the phone with a local radio station, reported that she was barricaded in a lab with 40 other people, including a teacher.
"We're in the lab, which is on the seventh floor, and we're waiting for police to come and get us," she said. "We've locked the doors and we've sealed it with the tables. We're still scared. Everyone's been evacuated, except us."
As of 4:00 pm, police have cordoned off approximately four square blocks of the downtown core surrounding the college. Dawson college houses over 10,000 students, some of whom are believed to be still hiding within the school. Swat teams are continuing to search the building for these students, as well as more potential victims. The Alexis Neon Plaza, a very large shopping center, and an underground Metro station are within close proximity to the college.
Police are in the process of interviewing witnesses, trying to determine the number of gunmen. As of yet, only one suspect is being confirmed, who according to police, was "neutralized" by the initial responding officers.
Tragically, this isn't the first mass school shooting to occur in Montreal. On Dec. 6, 1989, Marc Lepine shot 27 female engineering students at the Ecole Polytechnique, killing 14, before fatally shooting himself. The incident prompted tighter gun laws, including the creation of the controversial national firearms registry. The Canadian Parliament created the National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women in 1991, to coincide with the anniversary of the tragedy.
Information hotlines were set up by police for families to call for Dawson College shooting info: (514) 280-2880; (514) 280-2806.