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Friday, September 15, 2006

'You gotta die sometime': A website's chilling message

Why did Kimveer Gill arm himself, march into Dawson College and start a shooting rampage? The internet holds chilling pieces of that puzzle.

"Life is like a video game, you gotta die sometime," Gill wrote on his online journal.

Gill published a web page that in its entirety reveals a self-portrait. And it isn't a pretty picture. He maintained a blog-style space on vampirefreaks.com, a site devoted to Goth culture, that contained journal items posted from the same day of the shooting and pictures of himself brandishing guns and knives.

Web spaces show thoughts meant to be seen by few in a place where they can be found by many. Most people and names will have some sort of electronic footprint as blogs and other diary-like sites flourish on the internet — the site tracker Technorati.com searches about 54 million blogs.

Sometimes the information is mundane, but often, like in the case of Gill, there are some telling tidbits of information.

"Work sucks … School sucks … Life sucks … What else can I say?" he wrote in a posting in his online journal that he started in 2005.

Gill called himself "Trench" and wrote: "You will come to know him as the Angel of Death."

Gill took on the alias fatality666. On his web page, he posted pictures of himself with combat boots, a knife and several of his rifles.

A photo gallery accompanying the profile includes pictures of Gill with a Beretta CX4 Storm semi-automatic rifle. He's seen in the last pictures wearing a black coat and holding a rifle. The caption below the last photo reads: "Ready for Action."

The site's New York-based founder and webmaster, Jethro Berelson, says his moderators monitor site users. There are more than 600,000 people registered on his site.

"We don't condone illegal activities, we don't condone anything bad," he told CBC Newsworld. "Any time somebody does something wrong that happens to have a profile on the website, somehow the website is blamed," he said. "I don't think the website is in any way responsible."

Gill wrote his final entry just hours before the shooting began, saying: "Whiskey in the morning, mmmmmm, mmmmmmmmm, good !! :)"

He said he played a Web-based game that simulated the 1999 school shootings in Columbine. And in his profile page, he revealed his interests in music (Marilyn Manson), his favourite movies (Edward Scissorshands, Romeo and Juliet), video games (Manhunt, Grand Theft Auto) and TV shows (The Daily Show, Law and Order).

Under the category "Dislikes," he wrote "THE WORLD AND EVERYTHING IN IT"

Websites linked to crime:

Medicine Hat killings: April 2006

After three members of a Medicine Hat family were killed, it emerged that the two suspects, a 12-year-old girl and a 23-year-old man, had posted on various websites.

The girl, who can't be named, posted on Nexopia.com, according to reports. (The postings have been removed.) "Are you talking me? Cuz that would be super," she wrote on the site that is popular with young people.

The other accused, Jeremy Steinke, reportedly met the girl on the site vampirefreaks.com.

Two deaths in Maine: April 2006

Stephen Marshall, 20, travelled from Nova Scotia to Maine, where he is suspected of having shot and killed two sex offenders before committing suicide.

His blog was hosted in angelfire.com and has been taken down. According to reports in April, he linked to a site that was a guide on "How to spot a pedophile" and a site with photos of firearms.

Marshall's blog also listed his "likes" (food, maple syrup, Canadians, porn) and "dislikes" (drag queens, gays, minorities getting special treatment).

Johnathan's mistrial: February 2005

A mistrial was declared in the murder trial of three teenagers in Toronto amid allegations that a witness lied about her interest in vampirism.

The judge said the witness, a former girlfriend of one of the defendants, may have misled the court after a newspaper report that she had contradicted her sworn testimony in postings to the internet. The 12-year-old victim, who can only be identified as "Johnathan," was stabbed to death in November 2003.

The witness testified that she considered the defendant's blood fetish to be childish. But a report said that the girl had posted comments to an internet site in which she professed an interest in "blood, pain ... cemeteries [and] knives." It also said she had apparently posted commentary about her testimony to an online journal during the trial.

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