MARC LEPINE AND THE MONTREAL MASSACRE

 

BY THE AGE OF TWENTY-FIVE FRENCH-CANADIAN MARC LEPINE HAD DEVELOPED A DEEP AND BITTER HATRED OF WOMEN; OR, MORE ACCURATELY, HE WAS PEEVED BECAUSE THEY DID NOT LIKE HIM. AND, TO BE TRUTHFUL, THE CAUSE WAS NOT DIFFICULT TO IDENTIFY - LEPINE HAD A FANATICAL OBSESSION WITH WAR AND VIOLENCE, AND IT SHOWED; THOUGH HE HAD A NUMBER OF GIRLFRIENDS NONE OF THEM HUNG AROUND FOR VERY LONG, AND EVEN FEMALE NEIGHBOURS AVOIDED HIS COMPANY. PERHAPS IT WAS THE SKULL IN THE WINDOW THAT GAVE THE GAME AWAY, OR THE CEASELESS SOUND OF BATTLE THAT VIBRATED FROM THE ROOM IN WHICH HE WATCHED NON-STOP A COLLECTION OF WAR FILMS. THE RESULT OF MARC LEPINE’S FEELINGS OF REJECTION WAS THAT, LIKE MOST MASS AND MANY SERIAL KILLERS, HE FOUND THE CONVENIENT SCAPEGOAT - FEMINISTS, OR RATHER ANY WOMAN WHO DARED TO THINK AND SPEAK FOR HERSELF, ESPECIALLY WHEN THE WORD WAS GOODBYE. IT IS DIFFICULT TO KNOW HOW LONG LEPINE WOULD HAVE BEEN ABLE TO CONTAIN THE GROWING ANGER AND FRUSTRATION HAD ONE OF HIS GIRLFRIENDS NOT BECOME PREGNANT. THIS SUITED MARC LEPINE QUITE WELL. IT MEANT, FOR A START, THAT THE MOTHER WAS LESS LIKELY TO LEAVE HIM, AND IT WOULD ALSO PROVIDE HIM WITH ANOTHER HUMAN BEING TO BULLY. THINGS TURNED DECIDEDLY SOUR WHEN LEPINE’S GIRLFRIEND INSISTED ON HER RIGHT TO HAVE THE PREGNANCY TERMINATED - THIS WAS MILITANT FEMINISM IF EVER HE HEARD IT; FOR MARC LEPINE IT WAS THE FINAL STRAW.

ON A DAY IN DECEMBER 1989, LEPINE BURST INTO A CLASSROOM AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MONTREAL WITH AN AUTOMATIC GUN IN HIS HAND - JUST AS HE IMAGINED IT FELT IN THE FILMS THAT HAD HELPED TURN HIS FRAGILE MIND. FIRST, HE ORDERED THE MALE STUDENTS TO ONE SIDE OF THE ROOM AND THE WOMEN TO THE OTHER; THEN, SHOUTING A FEW BARELY COHERENT CURSES AGAINST FEMINISTS, LEPINE OPENED FIRE INTO THE CROWD OF TERRIFIED WOMEN STUDENTS. HE CLAIMED FOURTEEN LIVES BEFORE TURNING THE GUN ON HIMSELF.

IN THE WAKE OF THE MASSACRE, TWO FURTHER REVEALING PIECES OF INFORMATION WERE ADDED TO THE MARC LEPINE STORY. IT TURNED OUT THAT EARLIER IN THE SAME YEAR, 1989, HE HAD BEEN REJECTED FOR A PLACE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MONTREAL’S ENGINEERING FACULTY. THERE HAD ALSO BEEN AN EARLIER REJECTION: THE CANADIAN ARMED FORCES WHICH HE SO ADMIRED TURNED HIM DOWN AS A RECRUIT - THEY THOUGHT HE WAS MENTALLY UNSTABLE.

 

 

THE TARGET: LÉCOLE POLYTECHNIQUE DE MONTREAL

ON DECEMBER 6, 1989, CLASSES WERE IN SESSION AT THE ÉCOLE POLYTECHNIQUE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF MONTREAL, LOCATED ON THE NORTH SLOPE OF MONT ROYAL. IT WAS THE LARGEST ENGINEERING SCHOOL IN CANADA, WITH ABOUT 5,000 STUDENTS ENROLLED AT THAT TIME. A SIX-STORY YELLOW BRICK BUILDING HOUSED THE CLASSROOMS AND OFFICES.

TO THE STUDENTS IT SEEMED LIKE A NORMAL DAY, IF COLD AND DRIZZLY. IT WAS THE LAST DAY OF THE SESSION, WITH FINAL PRESENTATIONS GOING ON IN DIFFERENT PLACES. ABOUT 60 STUDENTS SAT IN CLASSROOM C-230, ON THE BUILDING'S SECOND FLOOR. IT WAS JUST AFTER 5 P.M., AND THE SKY HAD DARKENED. FOR SOME, THAT MADE IT EASIER TO FOCUS ON THE LECTURE OFFERED BY TWO STUDENTS ABOUT THE MECHANICS OF HEAT TRANSFER. THE INCIDENT THAT DAY, ONLY MINUTES AWAY, WOULD BE COVERED EXTENSIVELY IN MONTREAL'S GAZETTE AND THE TORONTO STAR.

A THIN, YOUNG MAN WITH A SHAVED HEAD (ACCORDING TO ONE SOURCE, THOUGH OTHERS SAY HE HAD SHAVED ONLY HIS BEARD) AND A WHITE BASEBALL CAP, HAD BEEN SITTING FOR A WHILE ON A BENCH IN THE HALL OUTSIDE THE REGISTRAR'S OFFICE. THOSE WHO PASSED NOTICED THAT HE WORE JEANS, WORK BOOTS, AND A BLUE-STRIPED SWEATER, BUT BECAUSE HE ALSO WORE A GRAY PARKA, THEY COULD NOT SEE THE DESIGN ON THE BACK — A SKULL WEARING GLASSES, AS REPORTED LATER IN THE GAZETTE. HE HAD A GREEN PLASTIC BAG WITH HIM, ALTHOUGH NO ONE REALIZED THAT INSIDE WAS A LETHAL WEAPON, AND BENEATH HIS SWEATER HE HAD STRAPPED ON A SHEATH CONTAINING A SIX-INCH HUNTING KNIFE.

HE LOOKED AGITATED, AS IF HE WERE WAITING FOR SOMEONE WHO HAD FAILED TO ARRIVE. HE MADE EYE CONTACT WITH NO ONE, BUT HIS ATTITUDE WAS CLEAR IN HIS STIFF POSTURE AND GRIM EXPRESSION. WHEN AN EMPLOYEE IN THE OFFICE ASKED IF HE NEEDED ASSISTANCE, HE GOT UP, GRABBED HIS BAG WITHOUT A WORD, AND WALKED AWAY. SHE DIDN'T THINK MUCH ABOUT IT. THE END OF THE SEMESTER WAS A TOUGH TIME FOR STUDENTS, AND MANY WERE TIRED.

A FEW MINUTES AFTER 5 P.M.,THE HALLS HAD CLEARED AND NO ONE WAS ABOUT — NO ONE WHO COULD RAISE AN ALARM. PEOPLE IN THE OFFICES WERE PREPARING TO LEAVE FOR THE DAY. THAT, AT LEAST, WOULD WORK IN HIS FAVOR.

WITH CARE, HE REMOVED A LIGHTWEIGHT STURM RUGER MINI-14, .223-CALIBER SEMI-AUTOMATIC RIFLE FROM HIS BAG, RECALLING HOW HE HAD TOLD THE CLERK AT CHECKMATE SPORTS NOT LONG BEFORE THAT HE WAS GOING AFTER "SMALL GAME." THE CLERK HADN'T GRASPED THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE COMMENT. STILL AMUSED BY HIS LITTLE SECRET, THE ARMED MAN STRODE TOWARD CLASSROOM 230 (SOME SAY 303). THIS WAS THE MOMENT. HE HAD ATTACHED A HIGH-CAPACITY BANANA CLIP MAGAZINE SO HE COULD FIRE 30 ROUNDS IN QUICK SUCCESSION, AND HE HAD PLENTY OF AMMUNITION. HE WAS READY. NO ONE WOULD FORGET THIS DAY. SMALL GAME, INDEED.

IN ALL, LÉPINE HAD KILLED 14 WOMEN AND WOUNDED 13 OTHER STUDENTS OF BOTH GENDERS. YET THERE WERE MORE VICTIMS AS WELL. ALL OF THE FAMILIES WOULD BEAR THEIR OWN SCARS FROM THE 20-MINUTE SIEGE.

LÉPINE'S STATED INTENTION OF KILLING FEMINISTS AS A POLITICAL STATEMENT, AND AS A WAY TO SCARE WOMEN BACK TO THEIR TRADITIONAL ROLES, SHOCKED PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD.