Tag Archives: Dawson-shooting

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)

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Now I know how to commit suicide

The Gazette today has a very long feature article (inexplicably split into three parts online which, of course, don’t link to each other – Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) about the life of Dawson College shooter Kimveer Gill, and seeks (and fails) to answer the question of why he did what he did. The piece is some feat for reporter Sue Montgomery, since Gill’s family has been long reluctant to speak to the media.

Meanwhile, Peggy Curran speaks to the family of Anastasia De Sousa, who was Gill’s lone fatality on Sept. 13, 2006. They too have been hiding from the media spotlight, and the article speaks of the stresses of ravenous reporters stopping at nothing to get a scoop.

Both articles are well-written and insightful, but a nagging feeling persists: De Sousa’s article is a page long, while Gill’s spans three pages. Had Gill simply shot himself or committed suicide some other way, he likely would have had no coverage whatsoever, due to newspapers’ policies of not giving publicity to suicides.

But because Gill went out in a blaze of gunfire, his suicide prompts an in-depth look at his life larger than most major politicians would receive. The uncomfortable message here is clear: If you’re going to off yourself, make sure to take a few people with you. Then nobody will forget you.

Hopefully no one will take that message to heart.