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1989: Gunman massacres 14 women at Montreal’s École Polytechnique

The Story


On Dec. 6, 1989, an enraged gunman confronts 60 engineering students during their class at l'École Polytechnique in Montreal. He separates the men from the women and tells the men to leave the classroom, threatening them with his .22-calibre rifle. It is the beginning of a shooting rampage that spreads to three floors and several classrooms, with the gunman jumping from desk to desk while female students cower below. He roams the corridors yelling, "I want women." Before opening fire in the engineering class, he calls the women "une gang de féministes" and says "J'haïs les féministes [I hate feminists]." One person pleads that they are not feminists, just students taking engineering. But the gunman doesn't listen. He shoots the women and then kills himself. In this news report from CBC-TV, parents of the Polytechnique students wait outside the school, crying and wondering if their daughters are among the 14 dead.

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: Dec. 6, 1989
Host: Knowlton Nash
Reporter: Paul Workman
Duration: 3:34

Did You know?


• The women murdered were Anne St-Arneault, 23; Geneviève Bergeron, 21; Hélène Colgan, 23; Nathalie Croteau, 23; Barbara Daigneault, 22; Anne-Marie Edward, 21; Maud Haviernick, 29; Barbara Klueznick, 31; Maryse Laganière, 25; Maryse Leclair, 23; Anne-Marie Lemay, 22; Sonia Pelletier, 23; Michèle Richard, 21; and Annie Turcotte, 21.

• In total, Lepine shot 27 people, 13 of whom survived.

• Some women survived the incident by hiding in rooms Lepine never entered, including Heidi Rathjen, who went on to become a gun control activist.

• Lepine claimed his victims in several areas of the university. One victim was found on the second floor, six others were in one classroom, four more were in a room on the third floor and three were in the cafeteria on the first floor.

• Police couldn't readily identify Lepine because he shot himself in the face and was not carrying identification. Officers brought a picture of Lepine dead at the scene to Montreal gun stores. A clerk who had sold Lepine the gun identified him and gave police store records with his name and address.

• Police strategy on the night of the massacre was to establish a security perimeter. Officers were ordered not to enter the building, and were only given the OK to go in 24 seconds after an announcement came that Lepine had shot himself.

• Coroner Teresa Z. Sourour implied in her report that police could have done more. She said Lepine had 60 bullets left he could have used because "no police assault was underway or evidently under consideration."

•  Lepine was an École Polytechnique student who aspired to study engineering but had missed qualifying for entrance by two credits.


Also on December 6:

• 1907: Thomas Selfridge, riding inside a tetrahedral kite designed by Alexander Graham Bell, makes the first recorded passenger flight in Canada over Bras d'Or Lake in Nova Scotia.
• 1917: Halifax is destroyed after the French munitions ship "Mont Blanc" explodes in the city's harbour.
• 1989: Gunman Marc Lepine massacres 14 female engineering students at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal.
• 1990: the Supreme Court of Canada upholds mandatory retirement.


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