The Black Rod

The origin of the Usher of the Black Rod goes back to early fourteenth century England . Today, with no royal duties to perform, the Usher knocks on the doors of the House of Commons with the Black Rod at the start of Parliament to summon the members. The rod is a symbol for the authority of debate in the upper house. We of The Black Rod have adopted the symbol to knock some sense and the right questions into the heads of Legislators, pundits, and other opinion makers.

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We are citizen journalists in Winnipeg. When not breaking exclusive stories, we analyze news coverage by the mainstream media and highlight bias, ignorance, incompetence, flawed logic, missed angles and, where warranted, good work. We serve as the only overall news monitors in the province of Manitoba. We do the same with politicians (who require even more monitoring.) EMAIL: black_rod_usher@yahoo.com

Monday, September 18, 2006

Reconstructing the Dawson College Shooting Moment by Moment

Enough information has now come out about Wednesday's shootings at Dawson College in Montreal that we can reconstruct what happened step by step.

And the evidence indicates that Kimveer Gill was a more determined, and more depraved, killer than heretofore suspected.

**********

Dawson College is bordered by Sherbrooke Street to the north, Maisonneuve Blvd. to the south, Wood Avenue to the west and Atwater Ave. to the east.


About twenty minutes to 1 in the afternoon, Gill drove up to the CEGEP and parked his Pontiac Sunfire on Wood Avenue.

He was early.

The evidence suggests he was timing his arrival with the end of noon-hour classes about ten minutes later.

Maybe he caught the lights just right. Or he built-in time to find a parking spot.

Whatever the reason, he arrived too soon. Another ten minutes and the halls would have been filled with students changing classes. And the carnage could have been unmeasureable.


Gill got out of his car.Andrew Temple, 19, was walking along de Maioneuve Blvd. with his friend Adam Peters, also 19. Temple was on his way to apply to Dawson College, but first they were meeting a friend from the school for lunch. They saw a man dressed all in black taking a gun from the trunk of his car. Thinking it was a theatre prop, they kept walking, into the school cafeteria.

A group of boys passed Gill's car and noticed he had a rifle in his hands. After they passed him, one boy looked back and, to his horror, saw Gill staring down the gunsight directly at the boy. The teen turned and kept walking, praying that it was a joke. But the boys were walking down Wood Avenue, and Gill wasn't about to give away his plans that early, so he held his fire.

He finished loading up. By the time he left his car, he was armed with a semi-automatic rifle, a 9mm. handgun and a 12 guage shotgun. He was also carrying a large, heavy bag over his shoulder.

He walked along de Maissoneuve Blvd. toward the front entrance to Dawson College where students lounged smoking cigarette.

"There must have been some 50 people," said Cyrielle Vincent, 21, a social sciences student. "We noticed him right away -- he stood out with his black coat and Mohawk."

It wasn't his "mohawk", which one witness called "retarded hair." From pictures on his blog, Gill's haircut was less a tall spiky punk mohawk and more a shaved-sides, Travis Bickel look.

But the six foot one Gill cut a striking figure in his long trenchcoat.
And in the gun he carried.

He came closer. And started shooting.

BAM. BAM. Meaghan Hennegan, 18, went down, shot in the right hip and right forearm.
BAM. Catalin Romano, 18, was hit in the guts.
BAM. His brother Mihai Romano, 19, was hit in the buttocks as he ran.
BAM. BAM. Hayder Kadhim, 18, was shot in the leg and in the head just above the right ear.

"The guy was acting normal. He didn't run. He wasn't nervous. He was just relaxed." said student Hernat Monawar. "At first we thought it was fake."

But reality set in with the screams and the blood. Panicked students started running into Dawson, and Gill followed at his measured pace.

What he didn't know yet was that his plans had already started to fall apart.

Mathieu Dominique, 17, recounted what he saw:
" I was having a cigarette outside near the sidewalk. I see a cop car pulling up in front of me, with no sirens. So I'm thinking, 'Okay maybe this has something to do with the new smoking laws.' Then I hear a sound like a firecracker."


**************

Even before the first shot was fired, a police car, Cruiser 12-1, had pulled up across the street. Called to the area by Dawson College security guard Vincent Pascale, the officers arrive to investigate a drug matter.


"I didn't spot the gunman right away, but as soon as I turned my head, about four or five feet away from me, there's a guy in a black trench coat and a Mohawk," said Dominique. "When I saw his face, he looked really mad.... He was really into shooting... It was like, bullet after bullet. It was like a burst - like at least six shots in two seconds."

Alerted by the gunfire and the screams of students, the police saw Gill enter the college. They immediately radioed for help.

They ran over to the wounded students lying on the ground, leaving his partner to wait for the ambulances, Officer Alain Diallo, a rookie on the force barely one month, pulled his gun and went after Gill.

Marie Vigouroux, 18, and Fehr Marouf, 20, were just leaving school when they saw Gill. He was 12 feet away. "He was holding a long gun with both hands at waist level, sweeping the weapon from side to side Rambo-style" was the way the Globe and Mail described Marouf's account.

"I saw the gun and thought 'We have to run'," said Vigouroux. She pulled Marouf back into Dawson College.

"We ran back into Dawson and through the atrium telling people to leave," he said. "There was chaos. Just chaos."

And into this chaos stepped Kimveer Gill.

He may have missed class changeover. But he had a Plan B.

He didn't act like someone who had never stepped foot in Dawson College. A student who came face-to-face with Gill described how he gracefully stepped past her, almost as if he was dancing, she said.

He knew where he was going.
The atrium on the second-floor.
Where he would find the most students in one place.
A perfect killing ground.


But in the meantime there were targets of opportunity.


************

As he made his way to the atrium, Gill shot at people at random. The first 911 call came in at 12:42 p.m. "Shots fired inside Dawson College."

Elizabeth Gagnon, 17, just left a class when she heard two shots. A girl ran down the hall toward her. "She had blood all over her. She was covering her face," said Gagnon. "She was leaving a trail of blood."

Alexander Matthew, 19, had also just left class. Four or five girls burst into the stairwell. "I've been shot," one said. He thought they were joking until he noticed she was bleeding at the waist.

Simon Davies, who teaches film studies, said he had heard a student shouting about a shooting in a hallway and then saw him run past with a bloodied face.

"I went out to the hallway, I went around the corner and saw a policeman run by with his gun drawn and heard more gunshots" he said.

Dipti Gupta, a teacher at Dawson College, sheltered terrified students in her classroom, including one who thought she sprained her leg running for her life. Then the others noticed blood; the girl had been grazed by a bullet.

"Her leg was getting numb and she was scared she would lose her leg," said Gupta. When she wanted to scream in pain, another student offered her his arm to bite to muffle her cries.

School carpenter Yves Morin, 48, heard a commotion and went to see what it was. He threw himself in front of a girl in the hallway who was trying to get away from Gill. He was shot in the shoulder.

"He was dragged in and he was in terrible pain, and we couldn't do a damned thing," said Greta Nemiroff, co-ordinator of creative arts, language and literature, who was in the photocopy centre when the shooting occurred.

Ken Fogel, chairperson of computer science department, said, "Just after that, the police arrived and he ran out with us."

For the police were hot on the gunman's heels.

****************
Officer Diallo followed Gill all the way to the atrium. Andrew Temple and Adam Peters, the students we met at the very beginning, heard shots and left the cafeteria. They had seen Gill turn a corner headed for the atrium and they pointed police in his direction. By 12:50 dozens of police officers had swarmed the school and its grounds.


Kimveer Gill was still on a rampage but his time to manoeuvre was running out fast.

Gill stepped through the doors of the atrium, hot in the flush of his blood lust, There were about 70 students socializing in the room. They hadn't heard the shots that terrorized the school.

Gill began firing at his 9mm. before anyone could give the alarm.

BAM. BAM. Leslie Markofsky, 22, a student at Concordia University visiting a friend, took two bullets in the head.

James Santos, 17, was listening to Anastasia De Sousa, 18, when he saw Gill open fire. He instantly dropped to the ground, just as almost everyone else in the atrium did. De Sousa rose up and turned to see what Santos was reacting to.

BAM. Gill shot her and she fell beside Santos.

But it appears that's when Gill's luck ran out.

Andrea Barone, 17, said a police officer popped up and fired a shot at Gill, but missed. This had to be Officer Diallo.

Gill took cover behind some vending machines. And kept shooting at students.

Nikola Guidi was on the ground when bullets hit his girlfriend, Lisa Mezzacapa in the leg and arm.
"We were crawling to get away and she got shot right beside me. I couldn't believe it. I had to drag her away."

Guidi tried to staunch her bleeding by using his belt. Seconds after she was hit, two policemen entered the atrium and ordered Gill to drop his gun, said Guidi.

"Get the fuck away from here," was Gill's reply. "Stay the fuck back."

The third and final Act had begun.

**************

Trapped by police, Gill kept up a steady outpouring of gunfire.

Alex Zannis saw Gill drop his handgun and pull his rifle from his coat. He emptied it several times, at the wall that police were hiding behind and at students.

During one lull in the gunfire, Devansh Srivastava, 18, ran up the stairs to the third floor for safety. Feeling brave, he then tried to take Gill's picture with his cellphone, but Gill responded by shooting at him.

The bullets missed Srivastava, but may have been the ones that hit Kaloyan Gueorguiev, 19, who had just got off an escalator on the third floor. One bullet hit him above his left eye and another in his left forearm.

"I think (I was hit by) ricochet bullets," he said Saturday. Doctors told him that the bullet would have gone right into his brain if it hadn't been stopped by his browbone.

Another student took a shot in the arm trying to run.

Linda Dydyk, an English teacher, said: "The shooter pointed the gun at him---he froze. The police said to run and he ducked. His arm had a flesh wound but it wouldn't stop bleeding."

Josh Perl, 18, thought he was safe when he saw the police come into the atrium. He was trying to protect a girl and had his arm over her. He was frustrated to listen to the police talking to the shooter. His elbow was in the air when Gill fired at the girl, sending a bullet through his arm.

The police were doing more than talking. They were exchanging gunfire with Gill. Student Alex Zannis said that every 30 seconds the police fired a volley of single shots in the direction of the vending machines. Gill responded with rifle fire, he said.

One shot almost hit a policeman in the head. Police estimate up to 50 shots were fired in the 20 minutes gunfight. Before the end, they were planning to use rifles to shoot through the wall where Gill was hiding to kill him.

But before that could happen, Gill decided on his last move.

Hostages.


James Santos was trying to pull Anastasia De Sousa to the safety of a wall behind which about eight people were hiding. She was still alive but in a state of shock, moaning and incoherent.

Gill pointed his rifle at Santos and told him to stand between him and the police. Santos was 8-10 feet away from Gill, who kept asking him where the police were.

Then he asked about Anastasia. "Is she dead?"

Santos said he didn't know. "Let me take her. Don't do anything," he begged.

Gill wasn't listening.

He stepped up to the wounded girl and shot her again four times in cold blood.


"Now, she's dead," he said.

****************
He resumed shooting at the police.

Then he told Santos that today was the day he, Gill, would die.

He ordered Santos to pick up his heavy bag, which was full of ammunition and other weapons. He pointed his gun at another student lying near De Sousa's body.

"Do you want to die," he asked. The terrified boy answered," No, no, no, no."

"Come with me," Gill ordered. The boy picked up the bag with Santos.

Gill took no more than five steps towards them and just as he reached their side, he fell to the ground, holding his knee.

He had been shot by Police veteran Constable Denis Cote.

Witnesses heard a volley of six shots. The autopsy showed that Gill had been hit in the arm as well.


Realizing he was done, Gill put the handgun under his chin and sent a bullet into his brain.

The police rushed to him, grabbed his body and dragged it outside.

They handcuffed him before letting medical personnel see if they could save his life.

The demon was dead.


The ordeal, however, was not over. For two hours police went from room to room, sending students and staff who were holed up there, outside to their families, and searching for any other possible gunmen.

Paramedics treated the wounded and got them to ambulances and then to hospitals as quickly as possible.


The body of Anastasia De Sousa was not removed until 6 a.m. the next day.

*****************
- Leslie Markofsky is in hospital in an induced coma. One bullet has been removed from his brain. Doctors don't know whether to risk removing the other.


For a photo of Markofsky and some background, go to:http://dc37.dawsoncollege.qc.ca/news/images/stories/docs/discovermarch06.pdf#search=%22%22leslie%20Markofsky%22%22

- Catalin Romano is still in the intensive care ward.

He and his brother Mihai had been sitting on a bench outside Dawson College when the shooting began. When he saw Gill aiming at him, Mihai ran into the hedges to hide. When it was all clear, he went to the subway.

He didn't know he had been shot until his jeans turned red with blood.

By then he had to wait for an ambulance because they were all being sent to Dawson.

- Meaghan Hannegan, the first to get shot, had been standing on the sidewalk with her mother. They were going to a medical appointment for her, but were early. They were about to go to the atrium to see who was there. When Meaghan fell after being shot in the hip and hand, her mother fell on top of her to protect her from any more shots.

- Hayder Kadhim had been talking to a girl when he was shot. He was knocked down by the bullets that hit him, but got up, grabbed his bag and ran until he realized how badly he was bleeding. Then he passed out.

- Catalin Romano, Meaghan Hannegan and Hayder Kadhim were seriously hurt, but, by a stroke of luck, received immediate medical help which may have saved their lives.

Paramedic Jean-Marie Dufresne had just finished giving a class on cardiopulmonary rescusitation and was having lunch with a fellow paramedic, Patrice Grenier, at Alexis Nihon Plaza, the shopping centre beside Dawson College. They heard a commotion, saw the police beside a bleeding person, and ran over.

Dufresne and Grenier worked to stop Meaghan's bleeding, then turned to Kadhim.

- A physical education teacher was on the phone with another teacher when he heard them say, ‘Oh my God, there’s somebody shot outside.’

He looked out the office window and saw a body by the doors of the college. He grabbed his first aid kit and rushed down the two floors to help. He found Kadhim bleeding profusely from the back of his head.

Until that moment, Tony Proudfoot was best known as a former Canadian Football League defensive back, whose claim to fame was grabbing a staple gun before the 1977 Grey Cup championship game against Edmonton, and convincing his Montreal teammates that their best chance on the icy field was to fire staples into their broomball shoes for traction. The Alouettes won 41-7 and Proudfoot still has the staple gun.

On Wednesday, while ambulances were forbidden from attending to the wounded because of the danger of more sniper fire or stray bullets, Tony Proudfoot crouched behind a cop car that parked as a shield, heroically trying to save Kadhim's life, reassuring him.

A bullet had passed through his head and out through his neck.

Proudfoot applied pressure to stop his bleeding, until the paramedics arrived with a stretcher and hustled the victim to an ambulance. Then they worked on Catalin, who remains in critical condition.


Kadhim is still in intensive care, but is already joking with his friends.

- Hannegan went home the day after being shot, "very sore".


Her mother said that when she learned that Gill was dead,

"I'm not going to deny it, I was doing a little happy dance. That was just the mom in me."

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