Eyewitnesses say they saw a tall, Goth-looking man in a long black coat drive up near the college on Maisonneuve Street in a black Pontiac Sunfire at around 12:30 p.m. He got out of his car, opened the trunk and removed a rifle.
The gunman walked toward the college's southwest entrance, firing randomly, said witnesses, who saw him shoot at least one person outside. The man then walked into the college, gripping the rifle. Police say the first gunshots were heard at 12:41 p.m.
It was lunchtime and the school was packed when the gunman entered through the main doors and headed to the cafeteria. "He was shooting randomly," said Dawson student Michel Boyer, who witnessed the gunfire. "I'm not sure who he was shooting at, but the [cafeteria] atrium was completely cleared."
Chaos ensued, said Boyer. "The adrenaline was rushing. It was like something from a movie. It was completely unbelievable and incredible."
The first police officers were on the scene within three minutes, said Montreal police chief Yvan Delorme. By coincidence, they had been called to the college on an unrelated drug investigation.
Officers with guns drawn rushed into the building, at which point witnesses reported hearing more shots fired. Montreal police confirmed that the officers exchanged gunfire with the suspect, and that the suspect was hit by at least one officer.
Police said the gunman died during the shootout, but backed away from a claim Wednesday night that the suspect was killed by police.
"We know that shots were fired, both by this man and the police," said Sûreté du Québec spokesman François Doré.
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