Gunman slain after shooting in Montreal

Police evacuate students as a body lies covered next to a police vehicle during a shooting incident at Dawson College in Montreal, Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2006. A gunman opened fire Wednesday in the cafeteria of the college and wounded an unknown number of p The Associated Press

By The Associated Press

MONTREAL – A man in a black trench coat and a mohawk haircut opened fire Wednesday at a downtown Montreal college, slaying a young woman and wounding at least 19 other people before police shot and killed him, witnesses and authorities said.

Police dismissed suggestions that terrorism played a role in the lunch-hour attack at Dawson College, where scores of panicked students fled into the streets after the shooting began. Some had clothes stained with blood; others cried and clung to each other. Two nearby shopping centers and a daycare center also were evacuated.

“I was terrified. The guy was shooting at people randomly. He didn’t care, he was just shooting at everybody,” said student Devansh Smri Vastava. “There were cops firing. It was so crazy.”

Witnesses said the attacker started firing outside the college before walking in the front door. Much of the shooting was in the second-floor cafeteria, where students dropped to the floor and lay in terror. At times the gunman hid behind vending machines before emerging to take aim – at one point at a teenager who tried to photograph him with his cell phone. Teachers ran through the halls, telling everyone to get out of the building.

Police rushed to the scene, hiding behind a wall as they exchanged fire with the gunman, whose back was against a vending machine, said student Andrea Barone, who was in the cafeteria. He said the officers proceeded cautiously because many students were trapped around the assailant, who yelled “Get back! Get back!” every time an officer tried to move closer.

Eventually, Barone said, the gunman went down in a hail of gunfire.

Authorities did not provide any information about the attacker. Police spokesman Ean Lafreniere said there was just one gunman at the school and the search for others was over.

Although police initially suggested the gunman had killed himself, Police Director Yvan DeLorme later said at a news conference that “based on current information, the suspect was killed by police.”

Police with guns drawn stood behind a police cruiser as a SWAT team swarmed the 12-acre campus. The attacker’s bloody body, covered in a yellow sheet, lay next to a police cruiser near an entrance to a school building.

Montreal General Hospital said 11 people were admitted, including eight who were in critical condition. Nine others were taken to two other hospitals. One young woman later died, a police official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the victim’s next-of-kin had not yet been notified.

“Today we have witnessed a cowardly and senseless act of violence unfold at Montreal’s Dawson College,” Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper said. “Our primary concern right now is to ensure the safety and recovery of all those who were injured during this tragedy.”

Witnesses to Wednesday’s attack said a man wearing a black trench coat entered the school cafeteria and opened fire without uttering a word.

Derick Osei, 19, said he was walking down the stairs to the cafeteria when he saw a man with a gun.

“He … just started shooting up the place. I ran up to the third floor and I looked down and he was still shooting,” Osei said. “He was hiding behind the vending machines and he came out with a gun and started pointing and pointed at me. So I ran up the stairs. I saw a girl get shot in the leg.”

Osei said people in the cafeteria were all lying on the floor.

“I saw the gunman who was dressed in black and at that time he was shooting at people,” student Michel Boyer told CTV. “I immediately hit the floor. It was probably one of the most frightening moments of my life.”

AP Writer Rob Gillies contributed to this report from Toronto.