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Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Gunmen kill 4, injure 16 in Montreal, reports say

MONTREAL (Reuters) - Up to three gunman dressed in black army fatigues opened fire in a downtown Montreal college on Wednesday, and early, unconfirmed reports said four people had been killed.

RDI Television quoted unofficial sources as saying that 16 people may also been injured in the shootout. The network said one gunman had turned his weapon on himself and committed suicide, while a second had been shot and killed by police. This could not yet be confirmed.

"A suspect has been neutralized, which means he is not shooting any more," said Ian LaFreniere, a police spokesman.

Montreal police said they believed there were between one and three suspects.

A health agency official told reporters that at least six people have been taken to hospital, of which three are seriously wounded.

The shooting took place in the cafeteria of Dawson College, in the heart of Montreal, Canada's second biggest city. The college has around 10,000 students aged from 16 to 19.

The shooting triggered memories of a 1989 massacre at the Ecole Polytechnique de Montreal, where a gunman killed 14 women before killing himself.

That gunman, Marc Lepine, 25, left behind a three-page letter claiming that feminists had ruined his life and naming 19 high profile Quebec women he wanted to kill.

Television pictures from Dawson College showed panicked students fleeing from the campus and a pool of blood on the front steps of the college.

"I could see him fire several times ... I ran into a classroom. It was like something from a movie," student Michel Boyer told CBC television.

"He was less than six feet tall but I couldn't see his face ... he was completely covered," he said.

"To be getting out through an emergency exit and having police officers and SWAT teams run in and say 'Where's the guy?' holding their guns up, words can just not (describe) how frightened you are."

Boyer said the gunman was dressed in black army fatigues and had been armed with what looked to be a sniper's rifle. "I heard at least 20 shots."

Robert Soroka, a professor at the college, told Reuters he was in his fourth floor office when heard shots being fired. He immediately ran down the hall and told teachers to keep their students in classrooms and close the doors.

"This could have been a very bad situation, if it had happened five minutes later when the students would have been exiting their classrooms during the changeover," he said.

Soroka said the shooting began at 12:45 and shots continued to be fired for about 30 minutes. He said he heard at least 20 shots being fired.

"It was shocking then and it's shocking now," Soroka said of this shooting and that at the Ecole Polytechnique.
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