One woman was killed and 19 people were wounded yesterday when a gunman opened fire on students at a further education college in Montreal, Canada's second largest city. The gunman also died.
At least six of the wounded were critically injured. Although police initially suggested the gunman had killed himself, Yvan DeLorme, the city's police director, said at a news conference later that "based on current information, the suspect was killed by police".
Witnesses reported seeing a tall man with a Mohican haircut and black trenchcoat, perhaps in his twenties, walking into the central building of Dawson College and opening fire with an automatic weapon.
The gunman was seen by witnesses entering the main atrium, already firing at students, and then proceeding to the adjacent cafeteria, where students were eating and socialising.
Dozens of students and staff members poured from the building in all directions running for cover in two shopping centres on the other side of the street. Some of them emerged with bloody clothes. Other students as well as teachers ducked into classrooms and huddled behind doors barricaded with furniture.
One student, Daniel Mightley, told CNN he was leaving the building when the shooting began. "He fired one shot and everyone just stopped. It was like a firecracker. I was kind of stunned. I asked myself if he was actually holding a real gun or was it some kind of practical joke. I realised that if I didn't move, I could lose my life. There was no emotion on his face whatsoever. He was walking towards us very slowly and he was just shooting. I saw one person get shot."
Another student, Devansh Smir Vastava, said he heard about 20 shots as the gunman, dressed in military fatigues, made his way through the building. "We all ran upstairs. There were cops firing. It was so crazy. I was terrified. The guy was shooting at people randomly. He didn't care he was just shooting at everybody. I just got out."
Derick Osei, 19, said he was walking down the stairs when he saw a man begin shooting. "I ran up to the third floor and I looked down and he was still shooting," Mr Osei said. "He was hiding behind the vending machines and he came out with a gun and started pointing and pointed at me. So I ran up the stairs. I saw a girl get shot in the leg."
Another student, Michel Boyer, said: "I saw the gunman who was dressed in black and he was shooting at people. I immediately hit the floor. It was probably one of the most frightening moments of my life. He was shooting randomly. Everyone was screaming 'Get out of the building'. Everybody was in tears. Everybody was so worried for their lives."
A SWAT team, backed by police dog units, was dispatched to the school, going floor by floor to look for victims. People were also evacuated from two nearby shopping centres.
Dawson College sits on a 12-acre site in a downtown area crowded with colleges and universities, including the campuses of McGill University and Concordia University. Dawson is known for the ethnic variety of the about 10,000 students who recently resumed studies after the summer break. Most of those who attend the college are between 16 and 19 years old.
While rampages of this kind have occurred all too frequently in the United States most infamously the Columbine High School massacre outside Denver in 1999 they are an unusual event in Canada.
Montreal was the scene of Canada's worst mass shooting. Fourteen women died when a gunman named Marc Lepine opened fire at the Ecole Polytechnic in December 1989, before shooting himself. He left a note blaming women for ruining his life. There was another shooting in 1992 when a Concordia University professor killed four colleagues.
Montreal has always had a darker edge than other Canadian cities, with police frequently battling spasms of violence between rival motorcycle gangs.
CANADA 6 December 1989
Marc Lépine, 25, stormed École Polytéchnique, killing 14 women. Four men and eight other women were injured before Lepine shot himself. This led to a tightening of Canada's gun laws, restricting the possession of large gun magazines and introducing screening for potential gun owners.
US 24 March 1989
At Westside Middle School in Jonesboro, Arkansas, two boys aged 13 and 11 set off the fire alarm and killed four students and a teacher as they left the school.
US 20 April 1999
Two student gunmen killed 12 other students and a teacher at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, before killing themselves.
CANADA 28 April 1989
A 14-year-old boy walked into a high school in Taber, Alberta, with a .22 semi-automatic rifle, shot one 17-year-old student dead and injured another.
US 16 January 2002
A student who had been dismissed from the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, Virginia, killed the dean, a professor and a student, and wounded three others.
US 21 March 2005
A 16-year-old high school student killed five students, a teacher, and a security guard at Red Lake High School in Minnesota before killing himself. He also killed his grandfather and his grandfather's companion elsewhere on the Chippewa Indian reservation.Reuse content