The Dawson shooting: As it happened

(I don’t quite get this “as it happened” re-run news coverage fad going on. CNN did it last year with its 9/11 coverage, replaying tapes of that morning in real-time. MSNBC did the same this year. But if it works for them, I might as well dredge up something from my archives.)

One year ago today, a tall gunman went into Dawson College dressed in black clothing and a black trenchcoat at about 12:41pm, and fired an automatic weapon at random, shooting students. Anastasia DeSouza, 18, died on the scene, and 19 other people were injured, many seriously. They spent between a few hours and a few weeks in hospital. The gunman, Kimveer Gill, was shot in the arm and then turned one of his guns on himself.

I was at home that day on a day off from work. I first heard about the shooting a few minutes after it happened, when it was mentioned in passing at the end of CTV News at noon. What follows are my observations of news coverage of the incident as it happened that day. (The links are a year old, so some of them may not work anymore)

So we’re on CNN again. Details are still coming in, but CTV has interrupted regular programming to talk about what some student told her friend she said to someone else who saw someone say something to her friend on a cellphone about something he saw someone see with his own eyes, etc.French CBC reports 4 dead, 16 injured. (“French CBC”? Silly Toronto terms.)

CFCF’s Geneviève Beauchemin is on the scene, talking to CNN. Amazingly enough, CNN’s anchor correctly pronounced her name. Good for you.

On the other hand: “I’ve just been handed a note by one of our producers, who is Canadian, reminding us about the so-called Montreal Massacre…” sigh. I’m sure Fabrikant will come up soon, too. (UPDATE: and CTV wins this one at 2:59 p.m.)

MORE UPDATES: Here’s what the networks are showing:
TVA: Non-stop Dawson coverage
TQS: Non-stop Dawson coverage
CBC: Non-stop Dawson coverage
CTV: Non-stop Dawson coverage
LCN: Non-stop Dawson coverage
CNN: Non-stop Dawson coverage
RDI: Non-stop Dawson coverage
CBC Newsworld: Non-stop Dawson coverage
CTV Newsnet: Non-stop Dawson coverage
Global: House & Garden: Transforming an ordinary garden into a personal oasis

Sigh. Though to be fair, Radio-Canada’s CBFT hasn’t interrupted regular programming either.

3:13pm: Oh TVA. I’m sure all your viewers are fascinated by the historical significance of the Dawson building. And that map you’re using was stolen from the STM.

3:19pm: has their graphics department on the case. They have a page on previous school shootings, which of course makes a factual error on the Fabrikant case (it was five shot, not four), and their area map is in Hochelaga-Maisonneuve. East and West are two different things, which probably hasn’t occurred to the people running things out of Winnipeg.

3:37pm: CNN reports the gunman “could have been a student”. Excellent reporting there. Also was wearing military fatigues… no, wait, he was all in black… no, wait, he was wearing a trenchcoat JUST LIKE AT COLUMBINE! Perfect! Let’s go with that one.

3:43pm: is inviting people to share their stories.

3:46pm: STOP THE PRESSES! Whitney Houston files for divorce!. Fortunately the TV coverage hasn’t bitten this apple yet.

3:53pm: Note to CNN’s Carol Lin: Great job asking a witness to describe how he felt when he watched fellow student being shot, but please don’t tell him how he was feeling and cut him off at every second sentence. This is live news, you’re trying to fill time anyway. Why not just let the man speak?

3:57pm: CBC’s Amanda Pfeffer (“The Pfeff”) on CNN, saying hi to her mom updating on the situation.

4:00pm: CNN’s Wolf Blitzer starts the Situation Room, skirting the fact that CNN doesn’t have a Montreal bureau. So politics it is.

4:01pm: Pfeff goes back to her real job at CBC. Talking about employees at Zellers across the street cowering in the back. Those cowards. Not as brave as our Pfeff, standing in the middle of the wet street. I guess that means it’s raining (looking out window) yep.

4:22pm: Mits Takahashi wants students who are too busy gawking at her and haven’t told parents they’re ok to call them please. CFCF now has a student in studio.

4:26pm: Stephane Giroux reporting from Concordia’s Hall Building, where classes have not been cancelled. They want Dawsonites to converge there.

4:30pm: TVA mentions “M16”. Their blog reporter Dominic Arpin (with unfortunate initials “DOA” in the email address he’s asking people to send photos of dead bodies to) talking about how the Dawson website is inaccessible due to increased load.

5:00pm: CBC: “We now pass on our breaking news coverage to Calgary.” Because, you know, Calgary is the best place to coordinate coverage of a shooting in Montreal.

5:03pm: Canal VOX is talking about suicide and kids, unrelated to the craziness. Global is showing the Young and the Restless. Oh wait… Amanda Jelowicki is on the scene finally.

5:05pm: Global’s back to Young and the Restless after a three-minute report, as Radio-Canada CBFT finally interrupts regular programming.

5:17pm: Someone has created a prayer/grief banner and uploaded it to Flickr, just in case you’re incapable of feeling emotion without a small banner appearing on your blog.

5:23pm: has a new Dawson shooting graphic. I hope they got permission from the woman pictured there. Their area map is still wrong, two hours after I emailed them about it.

5:31pm:’s page is asking people to submit feedback… to the Ottawa Citizen – Because, you know, that’s the closest CanWest paper to Montreal. Oh wait…

5:41pm: Metro’s not stopping at Atwater. Guess I’m not going to Future Shop today as planned.

5:45pm: CNN has a better map graphic (Though it’s “de Maisonneuve Blvd.”, not street). CBC has a Plant (student newspaper) staffer on the air. CTV has the academic dean.

6:00pm: Mits and Brian Britt are nationwide on CTV Newsnet. At least someone got the idea that news about a Montreal shooting should come out of Montreal.

6:06pm: CBC: “No one ever mentioned a second gunman.” No one except the media, over and over again.

6:16pm: CFCF has Dawson student and reporter-wannabe Michel Boyer in studio, again. Dude, you’re being interviewed for the news, not a job. Mits is consoling him. Looks creepily Mrs. Robinsonish.

6:26pm: TQS is back to regular programming.

6:29pm: Michel Boyer’s still on, faking concern.

6:30pm: NBC Nightly News is leading with Dawson (and Pfeff!), while ABC’s World News has a special report on seatbelts. SEATBELTS? Also, news outlets outside Quebec don’t seem to get how CEGEPs work.

6:37pm: School shooting isn’t enough for Global to pre-empt House and Home. Also, I think I blinked and missed ABC’s coverage. CNN is talking about politics and NBC has moved on after a respectable 5 minutes on the subject.

6:53pm: More Michel Boyer! Does CFCF have nothing better to put on the air? Or does Mits just really wanna bone this guy? Is he the son of one of the producers or something? CFCF also has cellphone video of shortly after the shooting. It’s too blurry, but is the first from inside the building.

6:56pm: Concordia is touting the help it’s offering to the media, which is lapping it all up.

6:57pm: First words coming in of a second fatality, just as everyone goes off the air with news.

7:04pm: Global’s Jamie Orchard almost lost her composure on air. They pushed Entertainment Tonight back by almost five minutes to give last-minute updates. Everyone’s back to regular programming now. CBS has their evening newscast, leading with Dawson.

7:24pm: One of the Gazette’s reporter’s daughters was there, and her mother writes about it while home sick with the flu. (Wow, those CEGEP kids are getting younger and younger, aren’t they?)

7:27pm: Dawson finally updates their website, saying they’ll be closed till Monday.

7:29pm: One blog jokingly makes a link to the recent anonymous blog Montreal People I Hate (WARNING: racist, vulgar language).

7:32pm: Daily Telegraph’s front page. Only thing is it’s not a “university killing spree”, because it’s not a university.

7:44pm: The kid who took a cellphone video from inside the building is getting it aired on the networks. One pointed comment on Flickr is that this will encourage other idiots to take photos or video in dangerous situations, risking their lives for 15 seconds of fame.

7:53pm: CTV has former Dawson student Ian Lagace: “It wasn’t like this when I was there”.

7:58pm: is on it, with its usual insightful commentary.

8:00pm: Charest giving a press conference. Says we can discuss gun control later. Education minister will assign someone to … uhh … deal with this, in government-speak. “Help the college”. Apparently it’s an important college. Good to hear. Because, you know, if this wasn’t an important college we wouldn’t be reporting on it.

8:19pm: I’m not quite sure how an American flag at half-mast is appropriate, but it’s nice to know people are thinking of what’s going on here.

8:24pm: Dateline’s showing To Catch a Predator. Strangely, Montreal police didn’t call them up the moment this all broke.

8:29pm: CTV Newsnet: “OMG WE WERE ON CNN! WE 0WNZ j00!!! ALL UR BASE R BELONG 2 US!”

8:36pm: Montreal’s hate blogger confirms it wasn’t him.

8:40pm: Another first-hand account at MetBlogs.

8:42pm: Note to CTV: Dawson is NOT a “prep school”.

8:44pm: Genevieve Beauchemin interviewing Fehr Marouf (laid-back brother of Laith and Chadi). “He looks more like a Nazi/racist/skinhead more than anything else.” Worried about anti-Arab sentiment in response, despite the minor fact that the suspect is not Arab.

8:50pm: CTV’s Don Matheson: I don’t think anyone is going to interpret this as an act of terrorism. Of course, all the news media are mentioning the word in their coverage. Google doesn’t believe it, at least.

9:03pm: An unnamed journalist chips in on the media coverage.

9:13pm: Michel Boyer is back! Peter Mansbridge is on the scene at Atwater and Ste. Catherine, interviewing him and a punk chick in the rain. He’s so heroic, spending his ENTIRE DAY doing media interviews.

9:17pm: VANDALISM!.

9:18pm: Montreal police press conference on RDI.

9:24pm: The SQ will be taking control over the investigation. It’s standard practice for a police-involved shooting for another force to handle the investigation.

9:35pm: Apparently police tried to gain the attention of the gunman in order to stop him firing indiscriminately on students. It worked, causing him to fire on the police officers instead. That’s balls of steel, folks.

9:45pm: Student coverage at The Link

10:07pm: Police have located the car he used and his apartment, still no clue about motive.

10:09pm: Mansbridge: “You didn’t really need to talk to students to know their reaction to all this, but a lot of students wanted to talk about what happened.” Yeah. Arielle Reid, a former Concordia student who is now a Dawson student (don’t ask), brings out the tears.

10:10pm: CBC’s Susan Bonner: “A cosmopolitain campus, the largest (CEGEP) in Quebec, crammed with multicultural students.” Crammed? Multicultural?

10:12pm: For those who can’t get enough Michel Boyer, The National is running him “painting a picture” of the scene now again with Mansbridge and fellow student Lindsay Gauthier.

10:20pm: CBC answers the burning question: What do students in Vancouver think of all this?

10:33pm: More bad Flickr tributes.

11:12pm: Thank goodness for CBC’s third repeat of the National, because it gives us still more Michel Boyer!

11:25pm: Another first-person perspective. Also coverage from The McGill Tribune, as the Daily is sleeping on the job.

11:40pm: Calls for more gun control, though some don’t see it so black and white.

11:41pm: Another Michel Boyer fan.

11:55pm: has Gazette coverage up, including a timeline of events, which gives the name of the female victim as Anastasia DeSouza, 18. Telus reports traffic spiked to 11 times normal just after the shooting. Bill Brownstein looks at media coverage internationally (in mentioning networks that cut from regular programming, of course, he leaves out mention of Global which kept soap operas and gardening shows).

12:07am: And CanWest finally fixed their area map. There’s also a video sound-off, apparently an all-Peterborough edition.

12:15am: Today was supposed to be the Gazette’s big paper with news of the new valuation roll coming out. But looks like that’s going to be pushed back into the paper. I wonder if it will even have mention on A1, or if that’s going to be kept for shooting stuff.

12:19am: The Gazette pulled out all the stops. Nine reporters on this one story alone.

1:08am: Watching recorded Lloyd Robertson on CTV Newsnet, explaining what CEGEPs are, and even translating the acronym.

1:15am: The Globe, which I just realized I hadn’t looked at all day, has a single,
disappointing article on the subject, and links to CP photos and AP video.

1:22am: An expletive-laden comment about our good friend Michel Boyer, from someone who apparently knows of him.

1:25am: One of many tirades against the media. Though props went to the LCN’s helicopter coverage.

1:35am: Time for bed. I’m working in 8 hours.

2 thoughts on “The Dawson shooting: As it happened

  1. Christelle

    how could you just go to bed after listening to so many hours of that? i remember needing a changement dans mes idées or else i couldn’t fall asleep… :P

  2. Joe

    You really need a life. How can you be so critical of people at a time where that’s the least productive thing that could be done. Shame.


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