Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Marc Lépine's Gendercide: The Montreal Massacre


As police came in, Maryse Leclair's father went from one floor to another to assess the situation. Through a window in the third-floor corridor, he saw a young woman lying on a platform, on her back. He stopped. He couldn't believe what he was seeing. It was his daughter. Rushing to her, he realized that she was among those who had been killed. But more horribly, she had been stabbed as well as shot.

On other floors, other police personnel encountered grim scenes of their own. Sylvain Brouillette, one of the first officers to arrive at the scene and not much older than the students, recalled his experience for the Canadian Press. "A few people had blood on their faces. I saw a student jump from a window. Everybody was crying and yelling." Since reports had located several areas of the shooting, he had been prepared for a squad of commando-type shooters.

Genevieve Bergeron
Genevieve Bergeron

There had not been a mass killing like this since 1975, when 13 people had died from being herded into a storage room in the Garganttia Nightclub, which was then set on fire. That had supposedly been a contract killing in which innocent people had died, but no one could make any sense of this one.

The authorities soon learned that the suicidal gunman was Marc Lépine. It would take a while to piece together why he had caused so much slaughter, but he had stated enough about his intent for students to tell reporters that his rampage had been anti-feminist. He had wanted to shoot only women.

Barbara Marie Klueznick
Barbara Marie Klueznick

Concern that Lépine had acted with an accomplice, the police searched the entire building until they were satisfied that the bloody rampage was indeed over and that the place was secure. 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. Yet it was not the first such hate-inspired massacre. Like others before it and still to come, it was fueled by a frustration that can build into a hardened anger and a need to blame an outside person. Some psychologists call it a catathymic reaction.

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