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James Santos, Dawson College shooting survivor, graduates from police academy

Click to play video: 'Dawson shooting survivor on why he wanted to become police officer' Dawson shooting survivor on why he wanted to become police officer
WATCH: Over 10 years ago, James Santos was used as a human shield by a lone gunman who opened fire in Montreal’s Dawson College, killing one student and injuring 19 others, including Santos. As Matt Grillo reports, it was the events of that fateful day that convinced James Santos to become a police officer – Feb 26, 2017

James Santos was used as a human shield by a gunman during the Dawson College shooting on Sept. 13, 2006.

Now, more than a decade later, Santos has graduated from the École nationale de police du Québec.

According to the police academy in Nicolet, Que.,  71 people received their diplomas in the school’s 178th graduation ceremony Friday.

READ MORE: Dawson College remembers 10th anniversary of deadly shooting

Santos was given a special award of excellence.

The honour is given by instructors to a student who, among other criteria, shows perseverance and engagement.

At the time of the shooting, Santos was a teenager studying social science, and had a feeling he wanted to become a police officer.

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WATCH BELOW: In this extended interview, James Santos talks about graduating from the police academy and the impact the shooting had on his life.

Click to play video: 'Extended interview: James Santos on life since Dawson shooting' Extended interview: James Santos on life since Dawson shooting
Extended interview: James Santos on life since Dawson shooting – Feb 26, 2017

After he saw how police reacted to the shooting, he was left in no doubt about his path.

“I saw how they worked, how efficient they were,” Santos said. “After that day, I told myself that I would not stop trying until I became a police officer.”

Santos says he dreams of working for the Montreal police.

He believes the experience he now has makes him more ready for the job than ever before.

James Santos, a survivor of the Dawson College shooting in 2006, graduates, Friday, Feb. 24, 2017.

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Deadly day

On Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2006, a young man starting shooting outside the de Maisonneuve Boulevard entrance to the school, injuring six people.

READ MORE: Peace garden marks fifth anniversary of Dawson College shooting

He then stormed the campus and opened fire, killing one and injuring many others as chaos erupted in the main atrium.

WATCH BELOW: One decade after the Dawson Shooting

The victim, Anastasia De Sousa, was sitting in the cafeteria with friends when she and three other students were hit.

The shooter asked Santos, whom he had taken hostage, if Anastasia was still alive.

READ MORE: Meet some of the doctors who responded to the 2006 Dawson College shooting

Santos told him he didn’t know and begged for her to leave the school to be treated.

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A student breaks down as she talks on a cellphone during a shooting incident at Dawson College in Montreal, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2006. CP PHOTO/Ian Barrett
Students run from Dawson College after reports of a gunman in the building in Montreal, Wednesday, Sept.13, 2006. CP PHOTO/Ryan Remiorz
Students evacuate the school during a shooting incident at Dawson College in Montreal, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2006. CP PHOTO/Paul Chiasson
Students take cover behind a car at Dawson College after reports of a gunman in the building in Montreal, Wednesday, Sept.13, 2006. CP PHOTO/Ryan Remiorz
Evacuated students comfort each other during a shooting incident at Dawson College in Montreal, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2006. CP PHOTO/Ian Barrett
Police direct a man running to take cover during a shooting incident at Dawson College in Montreal, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2006. CP PHOTO/Paul Chiasson
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A woman is evacuated during a shooting incident at Dawson College in Montreal, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2006. CP PHOTO/Paul Chiasson
Chris Neill pauses for a short prayer after putting a rose against the fence at Dawson College in Montreal Thursday Sept. 14, 2006. Neill's friend Liz Distalo was shot Wednesday by a gunman who went on a rampage in the college. CP PHOTO/Tom Hanson
A student is overcome with emotion at a makeshift memorial in front of Dawson College in Montreal Friday, Sept. 15, 2006. CP PHOTO/Ryan Remiorz
Three yellow roses sit on a fence outside Dawson College in Montreal Thursday, Sept. 14, 2006. CP PHOTO/Tom Hanson

The shooter then asked another male student if Anastasia was dead and was told he didn’t know.

WATCH: James Santos recounts how he tried to help his friend, Anastasia De Sousa, before being taken hostage by the gunman. Mike Armstrong reports.

Click to play video: 'James Santos remembers Anastasia De Sousa at Dawson shooting anniversary' James Santos remembers Anastasia De Sousa at Dawson shooting anniversary
James Santos remembers Anastasia De Sousa at Dawson shooting anniversary – Sep 13, 2016

He then riddled her body with bullets.

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READ MORE: Dawson College students collect messages of peace ahead of sombre anniversary

“Now she’s dead,” he said, according to a coroner’s report into the tragedy.

About 20 others were wounded before he turned the gun on himself.

rachel.lau@globalnews.ca

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