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Man Goes on Rampage at College

The gunman opens fire in Montreal, killing one and injuring at least 19, before he is slain by Canadian police. His identity is not disclosed.

September 14, 2006|Sheldon Chad and Maggie Farley | Special to The Times

MONTREAL — A gunman opened fire at a downtown college Wednesday, killing a woman and injuring at least 19 other people, eight critically, before police shot and killed him.

Witnesses said the man, in his 20s, with a mohawk haircut and wearing a black trench coat, started shooting randomly with an automatic rifle about 12:40 p.m. outside Dawson College, near a spot where students gather to smoke.

Montreal Police Chief Yvan Delorme said officers arrived minutes after the shooting started and ultimately shot the suspect, who died at the scene. Police did not reveal the man's identity and said they did not know his motive.

"There is no racist or no terrorist link, as far as we know," Delorme said.

Police found the gunman's car nearby and discovered several other weapons and ammunition, said Robert Mansueto, a police spokesman.

The slaying victim was 20, he said, and the wounded ranged in age from 18 to 22.

The gunman fired between 12 and 15 shots in quick succession before entering a campus cafeteria, where he opened fire again, said witnesses, who ran or dived to the ground. Some shots sprayed across the street into the Second Cup coffee shop in the Alexis Nihon plaza, one of Montreal's most popular shopping malls.

When officers arrived, the gunman fled into another campus building, where he chased students and aimed at others on the floor, witnesses said.

Students poured out of the school onto the bloody scene where the shooting began. Others were told to run back into class.

"We ran out of the building as a SWAT team was coming in," student Michel Boyer told CBC, Canada's national network. "They were screaming, 'Where is he?' And when you have 20 police running at you with guns, you really know that your life is in danger."

Police said the suspect was shot inside the school. Witnesses said the incident lasted about 20 minutes.

Some witnesses said a second man came out of the college and stared at paramedics and people who were aiding a man with a head wound before racing off. He crossed the street and went into a movie theater complex in the Montreal Forum, where the Montreal Canadiens hockey team once played.

He then apparently disappeared into Montreal's underground city.

A search for the man was later called off.

The scene was pandemonium as people were instructed to leave the mall through an entryway facing the shooting scene, in front of the college. Hundreds of concerned and curious people flocked to the area as students rushed out.

Quebec's provincial police will investigate the shooting, Delorme said. Under the Quebec system, when a police force is involved in a fatal shooting, another force must conduct the investigation.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper condemned the shooting.

"Today we have witnessed a cowardly and senseless act of violence unfold at Montreal's Dawson College," Harper said. "Our primary concern right now is to ensure the safety and recovery of all those who were injured during this tragedy."

Mayor Gerald Tremblay said the rampage was "not representative of Montreal and does not reflect on Montreal society. It's a tragic event that says we're vulnerable and have to do more."

For Montreal residents, the shooting evoked two other college killings in the last 15 years.

In 1992, Valery Fabrikant, a former associate professor of mechanical engineering at Concordia University, killed four of his colleagues.

In 1989, Marc Lepine killed 14 women at Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal, an engineering school affiliated with the University of Montreal.

Lepine prowled the school halls for 45 minutes, shouting, "I hate feminists!" as he targeted female students.

That shooting sparked calls for gun control, and the federal government later introduced a national firearms registry.

Harper is trying to eliminate the gun registry, saying it is expensive and doesn't reduce gun use or smuggling by criminals.

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maggie.farley@latimes.com

Special correspondent Chad reported from Montreal and staff writer Farley from New York.

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