At 12:30 p.m. on September 13, 2006, 25-year-old Kimveer Gill began unloading weapons from his car outside the campus of Dawson College in Montreal, Quebec. Gill was dressed all in black and wearing a trench coat. He briefly held a passerby hostage and made him carry a bag of weapons and ammunition, then began shooting outside the de Maisonneuve Boulevard entrance to the campus. Next, Gill proceeded to the atrium by the cafeteria on the main floor, where he readied himself in the corner next to a microwave oven. After firing a shot into the floor and then into the cafeteria, Gill demanded that all the students lie down on the floor. He continued shooting at them until police officers arrived, which was within three minutes of being called. At that point, Gill briefly took two more people hostage. He was shot in the arm by one of the officers, and then shot himself in the head. Officers tried to resuscitate him to no avail. In all, Gill killed one person, 18-year-old Anastasia De Sousa, and injured 19 others before he killed himself. Officers found a short suicide note on Gill’s body.
Once people heard about the attack, nearby businesses went into lockdown. Two shopping centers adjacent to the campus were evacuated, as was the Pepsi Forum entertainment center, which housed an AMC Theater. Many evacuees fled to nearby Concordia University, which provided shelter, food, water, blankets, and phones. The university also put together a crisis counseling team to work with those who had been traumatized. Other students were unable or too scared to leave the campus and hid until they were escorted out by police with dogs nearly three hours later. Cell phone networks were jammed because so many people were trying to use them at the same time.
Gill lived with his parents in Fabreville, north of Montreal. A search of Gill’s home found an apology note as well as a letter praising the Columbine High
School shooters, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris. Investigations also revealed that Gill had obtained all of the weapons he used (a Beretta Cx4 Storm Carbine, a Glock 9-mm handgun, and a Norinco HP0-1 shotgun) legally. The young man was extremely interested in video games, and he regularly posted on the site VampireFreaks.com under the name fatality666. Gill’s posts were scary, commenting on how “everything sucks” and displaying his “homicidal” mood. He was also a fan of the heavy metal band Megadeth, and had mentioned their song “A Tout Le Monde” on his blog the day of the shooting. When Megadeth performed in Montreal later that year, members of the group announced at the concert their horror over the shootings and stated that any linkage between them and Gill was unwanted. Gill had also posted several photographs of himself with various weapons, and claimed to be obsessed with guns. He described guns as “the great equalizer.” Gill was also a member of a local gun club.
Former classmates at Rosemere High School called Gill a loner. After high school, he had enlisted in the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School, but was deemed unsuitable for service and discharged a month later. He developed depression in the wake of this event, to which Gill responded by collecting firearms and spending hours at the shooting range. After the shooting, Gill’s parents, who were both in ill health, expressed their sympathy for the victims and their families but asked for privacy amid the media onslaught.
Around the world, the shooting evoked images of the Columbine shootings. In Canada, however, comparisons were more often made with Marc Lepine’s 1989 massacre of 14 women at Montreal’s l’Ecole Polytechnique. Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper called Gill’s attack a “cowardly and senseless act of violence.” Two years later, a study by the Fernand Seguin Research Centre of Louis H. Lafontaine Hospital and McGill University Health Centre documented severe post-traumatic stress symptoms among the Dawson College community. Most students who received psychological services after the shooting rated them as satisfactory, but some groups such as college support staff and cafeteria workers felt overlooked. The gunman who shot Gill in the arm, Denis Cote, was praised for his quick response, as were the other four officers who arrived on the scene.
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