December 6, 2010 5:13 pm

Remembering a massacre: Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique

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Canada was in a state of shock and mourning 22 years ago, in the wake of a vicious massacre at Montreal’s Ecole Polytechnique.

On Dec. 6, 1989, Marc Lepine burst into a classroom at the school, separated the men from the women and opened fire on the female engineering students.

Lepine, an Ecole Polytechnique student, had been rejected by the engineering school. He blamed this failure (and others in his life) on women.

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He successfully applied for a firearms acquisition certificate from the Quebec Provincial Police that October, and purchased a Sturm Ruger Mini-14 semi-automatic rifle from a Montreal store that he said was for hunting “small game.”

Lepine sat down at some point in his final days and penned his now infamous three-page suicide note found inside the jacket he wore the day of the shootings.

In the note, he says, ”feminists have always ruined my life.”

The 25-year-old headed to the school on Dec. 6 armed with a .22-calibre rifle and a knife.

At around 4 p.m., Lepine sat in the registrar’s office, rummaging through a plastic bag. A staff member asked if she could help him, and he left the office without responding.

He was soon spotted on the third floor, standing in a corridor and holding a black plastic bag with a long object inside.

Almost half an hour later, just after 5 p.m., he was down on the second floor, heading to an engineering classroom of about 60 people.

He walked in the room holding a rifle, and approached a woman giving a presentation at the head of the class.

Students thought it was an end-of-term joke, but Lepine fired a shot in to the ceiling and ordered the men to one side of the room, and the women to the other.

Then, he ordered the men out.

Lepine asked the 9 remaining women if they knew why they were there. One woman answered “no,” to which Lepine replied “I am fighting feminism.”

One woman who would survive the attack, Nathalie Provost, pleaded that they were not feminists. But Lepine opened fire, killing 6 of the women.

He then moved out to the hallway and started shooting again.

Over the course of 20 minutes, he shot or stabbed 27 people, yelling, “I want women,” before turning the gun on himself. He killed 14 women on three different floors of the school.

The police protocol in 1989 called for officers to create a security perimeter around the school. Police were not allowed to enter until after it was confirmed that Lepine had shot himself.

Coroner Teresa Z. Sourour noted in her report after the shooting that Lepine had 60 bullets left, and could have killed more people as police waited outside.

The attack ushered in changes to police protocol that have been credited with minimizing casualties in the Dawson College attack of 2006.

Immediately after receiving reports of an armed man inside the Montreal school on Sept. 13, 2006, police raced inside the building. Kimveer Gill killed one person before killing himself.

The 1989 massacre also prompted the introduction of new gun-control measures, including the controversial gun registry, which is still a topic of debate in Parliament.

The National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence against Women was established in 1991.

With files from Postmedia News 

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