Reprinted from Open Salon. This well-received article was originally published on Dec 6th, 2009, 20 years after the Montreal Massacre.
20 years ago on this day, a 25-year old mentally-ill man, Marc Le'pine, entered École Polytechnique shortly after 4 PM with the specific intent of killing as many women as possible. Mr. Lepine was armed with a Sturm Ruger Mini-14 semi-automatic assault rifle, a hunting knife and loads of ammunition. In the first and most disturbing event of his killing spree, he entered a classroom located on the 3rd floor, asked the male students to leave, and started shooting at the women who were assembled in the classroom. Six were killed, while eight others were left wounded. Several of the wounded were able to survive by feigning to be dead. At the end of his 20-minute rampage, he had killed 14 women, injured four male students and ten other women before turning the rifle on himself. He blamed feminism for his action.
At the time, I was a student at the 'rival' McGill University. The shooting occurred while I was taking an exam in structural engineering. I first heard about the massacre when I was driving home. I got very worried, since many of my high school friends attended École Polytechnique. When I got home, I tried contacting all of them and was relieved when I found out that none have been harmed in this killing rampage.
Several years later, after I completed my master's degree and before I started working on my doctoral studies at the University of Toronto, I worked as a research assistant for a professor at Poly (this is how we say it in French, without the first word). Because of renovations, we worked in a nearby classroom during the summer months. At some point, I asked a colleague of mine sitting beside me (who is now a good friend), a woman who was an undergraduate student at the time of the shooting, but was fortunate enough to have been studying at home, which classroom did Marc Le'pine kill his first victims. She turned around, looked at me with a stunned look and said "You're sitting in it right now." A large chill ran down my back...
Classroom (303) where Marc Le'pine killed six women
Below are short sketches of the 14 women killed by Marc Le'pine. The information is taken directly from this website. The list is in alphabetical order:
Genevieve Bergeron, 21, was a second-year scholarship student in civil engineering. She played the clarinet and sang in a professional choir. In her spare time she played basketball and swam.
Helene Colgan, 23, was in her final year of mechanical engineering and planned to do her master's degree. She had three job offers and was leaning towards accepting one from a company based near Toronto.