The CBC website has a pretty in-depth story about the shooting at Dawson College yesterday. A name has finally been released and the gunman has been identified as 25-year-old Laval resident Kimveer Gill. It’s interesting how eyewitness accounts can be off sometimes – yesterday afternoon they were saying he was a blond man with a mohawk.
In further updates, although yesterday it was believed that no one had died other than the gunman himself, who was shot by police, this morning they confirmed that an 18-year-old girl, Anastasia de Souza was also killed in the shooting. There was a press conference this morning about the 19 other victims who were in varying conditions, some critical. There were at least eight people who required surgery, including one boy who had been shot in the neck.
On Canada AM this morning, they mentioned that Kimveer had a blog which had been taken down by police. They said he wrote about his loathing of “jocks” as well as posted pictures of himself with knives and guns. According to the story above on CBC, the last handful of images showed him in the black trench coat that witnesses had described, with the final image showing him with a gun and the caption “ready for action”. Despite the claim of deletion, there does appear to be a feed of the website, at least the blog entries. I looked a few of them over and eventually decided I don’t really care about how he felt because he certainly didn’t care about anyone else, and I clicked away.
It’s funny how stories like this make you want – need – to personalize the details. I didn’t go to Dawson and I dont think I know anyone who is a student there now (though one of my co-bloggers on Montreal Metroblogs works at Dawson and he posted his personal account of the day’s events). But it’s like we need to personalize it anyway to try to understand it or to try to cope with the feelings of helplessness. I didn’t go there, but Amanda did. I also know the layout of the school quite well because I visited a couple of times years ago when a group of student newspapers – I was a part of the paper at Champlain College – did a collaboration issue and the meetings were at Dawson’s paper. I once sat in the same cafeteria which was yesteday’s crime scene – I was there to audition for the school’s theater program and I sat at one of the tables to go over my monologues one last time. I ended up being accepted into the program but ultimately turned it down.
But you also personalize it when you have kids. I look at Hayley and I know she will be starting school next year. a year from now she’ll already be attending kindergarten. You sort of think to yourself, “Well, another kindergarten student isn’t going to open fire in the middle of storytime” but you can’t help but worry a little. How many other mothers and fathers were terrified yesterday amid all the broken and inconclusive news feeds, wondering if their child was one of the victims? It makes me want to hide away in a cabin in the woods (with high speed internet access, naturally) and homeschool the girls and never send them off to a school where some crazed person with a pissy attitude and a lack of respect for human life thinks that it’s okay to open fire on innocent students during lunch. How do you ever recover from something like that? I don’t want to have to figure that out.
I’ve been a bit of a news junkie for awhile now, but I know that I look at the news differently now and I have since September of 2002 when Hayley was born. Every tragedy becomes personal as I think, “What if that was MY kid?”
I know there’s no real way to protect your kids from everything. You do the best you can, you teach them safety rules and guidelines, you offer up a prayer to whoever you believe in, and you cross your fingers and hope for the best. There’s not much else you can do. Because the truth is you can’t really hide out from the world forever, even if you might want to sometimes. Danger will always be there and you have to send your kids out into the world eventually.
But today, on a rainy day less than 24 hours after a horrible school shooting where not much makes sense, it’s probably okay to just stay inside. And while you do, it’s definitely okay to take your kids and hug them just a little closer, because somewhere in Montreal, an 18-year-old girl’s parents can’t.