Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Marc Lépine's Gendercide: The Montreal Massacre


Notre Dame Basilica
Notre Dame Basilica

After the massacre, the Province of Quebec and the city of Montreal declared a three-day period of mourning. Silent vigils were organized around the campus and during funeral services for the victims. People in other towns across Canada joined in with their own public vigils. The world-famous Notre Dame Basilica in Montreal offered comfort and official recognition of the tragedy, offering a single mass funeral service for the nine Roman Catholic victims.

In the chapel beneath the University of Montreal's tower, those young women were on view in pearl white coffins (some closed, some open) for the public to pay their respects. Tens of thousands of people stood in freezing temperatures to have the chance to do so. One woman in line said, "I have never seen such a collective outpouring of grief." Many people said that the tragedy had made them ponder more seriously the issue of violence against women. December 6 was set aside as a national day of commemoration.

Prime Minister Brian Mulroney
Prime Minister Brian

Prime Minister Brian Mulroney pronounced the incident a national tragedy, and the flag at Parliament was lowered to half-mast. He could not understand how such violence occurred in a society that considered itself civilized. Other politicians echoed his sentiments.

Advocates for gun control were incensed that an obviously deranged man had been able to purchase such a dangerous weapon and ammunition so easily. Justice Minister Douglas Lewis promised to look into legislation that could restrict the availability of semi-automatic guns. Yet he added, "We can't legislate against insanity."

Some commentators thought that such a term downplayed the calculated nature of Lépine's attack. It had not been a sudden insane rampage. He had planned it for some time, fueled by his hatred of women. He had known perfectly well what he was doing and had encountered no hindrance to carrying it out. Lépine himself had said in his note that while the epithet, "Mad Killer," would be applied to him, he considered himself "rational and erudite." He blamed the "arrival of the Grim Reaper" that had forced him to "undertake extreme acts."

The families asked in anguish why no one had pulled the alarm earlier, and how it was that so many people in one building — some 2,500 at the time — could not stop the gunman. One administrator, who had locked doors to his office, admitted, "It did not occur to me to intervene." Yet the head of security in the building said that people had acted appropriately. "If you can get away from a man killing people with a gun," Laurent Lemaire observed, "that is what you do."

But there were some who wished they would have done things differently on that day. Unable to rid their mind of the images, they replayed them over and over, asking themselves why they had not acted to stop Lépine.