MONTREAL – A gunman in a black trench coat opened fire Wednesday in the cafeteria of a Montreal college and wounded at least 12 people, six critically, before shooting himself, witnesses and authorities said.
Scores of panicked students at Dawson College near downtown fled into the surrounding streets after the shooting broke out in the school of about 10,000. Some had clothes stained with blood.
Police spokesman Ean Lafreniere said there was just one gunman at the school and the search for any others was over.
Martine Millette of the Montreal police said the gunman later shot himself. Constable Philippe Gouin said, “in all probability, the suspect has committed suicide.”
CBC-TV showed police with guns drawn standing behind a police cruiser as a SWAT team swarmed the 12-acre campus.
Seeta Ramdass of Montreal General Hospital said 12 people, were admitted, including six who were in critical condition. Two were listed in serious condition and four were stable.
Student Devansh Smri Vastava said he saw a man in military fatigues with “a big rifle” storm the cafeteria.
“He just started shooting at people,” Vastava said, adding that he heard about 20 shots fired. He also said teachers ran through the halls telling students to get out.
Other witnesses spoke of a gunman wearing a black trench coat.
“We all ran upstairs. There were cops firing. It was so crazy,” Vastava said. “I was terrified. The guy was shooting at people randomly. He didn’t care he was just shooting at everybody. I just got out.”
Derick Osei, 19, said he walking down the stairs when he saw a man with a gun.
“He … just started shooting up the place. I ran up to the third floor and I looked down and he was still shooting,” Osei said. “He was hiding behind the vending machines and he came out with a gun and started pointing and pointed at me. So I ran up the stairs. I saw a girl get shot in the leg.”
Osei said people in the cafeteria were all lying on the floor.
“I saw the gunman who was dressed in black and at that time he was shooting at people,” student Michel Boyer told CTV. “I immediately hit the floor. It was probably one of the most frightening moments of my life.”
“He was shooting randomly, I didn’t know what he was shooting at, but everyone was screaming get out of the building,” Boyer said. “Everybody was in tears. Everybody was so worried for their own safety for their own lives.”
A SWAT team and canine units were at the campus, going floor by floor to look for victims, Sgt. Giuseppe Boccardi told CNN.
“Most of the students have exited the college grounds,” he said.
People have also been evacuated from two nearby shopping centers.
Canada’s worst mass shooting also happened in Montreal. Gunman Marc Lepin killed 14 women at the Ecole Polytechnic on Dec. 6, 1989, before shooting himself.
The 25-year-old Lepine roamed the halls of the school firing a rifle, specifically targeting women whom he claimed in a suicide note had ruined his life. Nine other women and four men were wounded.
That shooting spurred efforts for tighter gun laws and greater awareness of societal violence _ particularly domestic abuse.