Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Marc Lépine's Gendercide: The Montreal Massacre

Bloody Inspiration

Encyclopedia of Mass Murder
Encyclopedia of Mass Murder

In Lane and Gregg's Encyclopedia of Mass Murder, Denis Lortie's action is fully described. It happened on May 8, 1984. The Quebec National Assembly generally met in the legislature building, so Lortie, dressed in military fatigues and heavily armed, sprayed the building with bullets from a submachine gun and pistol that he had stolen. Then he went inside and started shooting in the Chamber. He managed to kill three government employees outright and to wound 13 others before he realized that they were not members of the provincial assembly.

Reportedly he shouted, "Where are the assembly members? I want to kill them all." Then he locked himself inside the Chamber. The siege lasted four hours before the Assembly's sergeant-at-arms, René Jalbert, engaged Lortie in conversation and eventually managed to talk him into giving over his weapon and turning himself in.

Quebec National Assembly Building
Quebec National Assembly Building

Lortie was a former soldier and army supply clerk who disapproved of the government and had decided to annihilate the members as a political statement. Nevertheless, when he was arrested, he pleaded not guilty to three charges of first-degree murder. Yet he had been caught on a remote-controlled camera in the Chamber shooting and screaming out his intent. It was difficult to sidestep his guilt.

His attorneys offered an insanity defense based on paranoid schizophrenia and put psychiatrists on the stand to affirm it. The judge, however, instructed the jury to consider this testimony as hearsay. Not surprisingly, Lortie was found guilty of murder and sentenced to life in prison. Yet on appeal, he received a new trial, based on the error made when the judge deflected the jury from weighing expert testimony for what it was.

René Jalbert
René Jalbert

The second trial occurred in 1987. Lortie pleaded guilty to reduced charges of second-degree murder, along with nine counts of attempted murder. Yet the psychiatric evidence was compelling enough that the judge discounted the guilty pleas and ordered yet a third trial. But the next judge accepted the guilty pleas from the second trial, which still got Lortie life in prison, but with reduced time to await a parole hearing.

Lépine had honored this man, which indicates that he felt some empathy with what Lortie had done. But why was Lépine attracted to violence?

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