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Gunmen Open Fire on Montreal College Campus
Aired September 13, 2006 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL LIN, CNN ANCHOR: Developing story out of Montreal, Canada, the Dawson College campus. There was a shooting. Gunmen opened fire on that campus.
We are working this story. Police are searching door to door in that classroom, as students ran for their lives.
Fredricka Whitfield working this story, also, from the breaking news desk.
Fred, you have heard from the college?
FREDRICKA WHITFIELD, CNN ANCHOR: Right.
Dawson College officials are now saying, among the dead, two of the shooters, one of them killed by police. And the college is also saying that three of its students were injured, critically.
It's still unclear, you know, what the overall numbers are. These are just the numbers that the college is able to give us right now. But we have been hearing a fluctuation of numbers all afternoon long. But the latest numbers, at least from this Dawson College, two shooters dead, one of them killed by police, and that three of their students are critically wounded.
LIN: Fred, also wires reports, Reuters saying that four were killed in this shooting?
WHITFIELD: Right. Reuters is reporting that four overall have been killed and 16 injured, but it's unclear whether the college's numbers of these two shooters dead are a part of that four, or if the...
WHITFIELD: ... number four should be...
LIN: I know.
WHITFIELD: ... you know, eliminated altogether.
WHITFIELD: It is really unclear.
Yes, don't want to make this a math problem, but at least the college has confirmed that two gunmen killed.
WHITFIELD: Right. Exactly. And that's the bottom line. That's the only source that we're able to get confirmation on any numbers right now. So, those are the numbers we are going to have to go with for now.
Fred, we have been hearing some terrific interviews that a local reporter in Montreal has been doing with some of the students.
Genevieve Beauchemin was able to talk to another student about what this student saw.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There's some problem, so I just got out from the library. They didn't tell us exactly what happened, because people were relaxed. We were just going out of the library. So, then, when we came out, we heard the shots here.
There were like three shots. And we saw the van was going that way, and the guy who was driving inside. He was inside of the college, the one who was shooting. He was one of them who was going from the van here.
So, the police was after them. But that's what we saw. We were there. So, the police told us turn away to the back. So, that's why we ran away to the back. That's what we saw. I didn't exactly saw what happened exactly, but I heard the shots.
GENEVIEVE BEAUCHEMIN, CFCF REPORTER: What did you think at the moment when you heard those shots?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Oh, I was really shocked. I was really shocked. I was trying to call my parents, tell them that I'm fine.
And my -- I was glad that my sister was with me, because the phone to phone, the cell phone to her, it wouldn't work. Nothing was working. So, I was very shocked, but it was unexpected. I was supposed to quit my semester today. I was about to go to like second floor. And just -- I didn't expect that at all. I mean, it just happened.
BEAUCHEMIN: I was listening to descriptions of some of the people who were injured after.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
BEAUCHEMIN: Did you see some of those people...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I haven't seen anyone. I haven't seen.
BEAUCHEMIN: And have you heard from any of your friends about they...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I'm trying to call them, but I can't -- I don't have any news of them. And I'm very worried about them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I hope she's OK, you know?
BEAUCHEMIN: There's -- what -- a friend in particular?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Christiana (ph). She's one of my best friend, and she's in the same college with me.
BEAUCHEMIN: Tell me about what your parents said when you finally got in touch with them.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. Well, they just told me that, are you OK? Do you want me to come pick you up? I'm like, no, you cannot, because everything is blocked here. And -- but we're actually fine, me and my sisters. And they're like, OK. Yes.
BEAUCHEMIN: And did they have any other reaction to what had happened?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes. My father was saying, like, what -- I'm sorry, my language. I'm kind of swearing, but he said like, what the (EXPLETIVE DELETED) happened?
You know, it was like unexpected. You know, it was like, how come you're, like -- you're going to college, and a nice smile, whatever, and you come back, and you tell me that something happened in the college?
It's, like, so unexpected, you know? They -- they were, like, shocked. They were shocked, just as, like, I was shocked.
BEAUCHEMIN: And I guess a lot of people are describing that scene.
I have some other students I guess I spoke to.
We spoke to Katherine (ph) a bit earlier, but tell me a little bit, if you don't mind again, just about just the sort of what you -- how you have been coping here now that you're outside...
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, like I said before, it was pretty dramatic. Like, it's not something you would like to, you know, see every day. But, otherwise, I think everyone's fine now.
Like, it's -- it was just really, like, traumatic and like nothing you expect.
BEAUCHEMIN: The latest reports were talking about four people killed, 16 injured. And what are your thoughts are on that?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just find it really sad. I -- you know, I hope they get better, because on -- like, no one would think -- no -- I don't know if it was, like, intended, I mean, like, he didn't want to kill someone or -- I don't know.
BEAUCHEMIN: When we're seeing here, also -- I just wanted to also update you thank you, Kate, as to what we're seeing here.
Thank you, Katherine.
We're seeing here that a lot of the police officers have still been hiding here on Sherbrooke Street. They are still hiding behind cars. And they have been in that position for a few minutes now. I guess they're still on high alert, feeling that there could still be possibly still the situation. The danger is still present to them.
And we saw them with their guns drawn a bit earlier, hiding behind those cars. And they're making sure that people are still far away from the scene, making sure that the situation here is still under control -- Kate.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LIN: That was reporter Genevieve Beauchemin from CFCF, a local Montreal TV station, doing an interview with a couple of the students, obviously talking in the heat of the moment, and just terrified, after hearing gunshots and seeing people run.
One of the students actually saw a police officer chasing one of the suspects. And the scene was utter chaos. And class was in session. This was right about the lunch hour. Genevieve Beauchemin was saying that the shooting happened right about 1:00 in the school cafeteria.
This is what one of the professors at Dawson College heard and saw.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At a quarter to 1:00, I heard what seemed to be a gunshot. I used to practice criminal law in the state, so, I know what a gunshot sounds like.
And I looked out the window. And, all of a sudden, I see a police officer shooting, and basically a lot of other -- a lot of other activity going on, a lot of police officers. And, basically, we, the teachers, myself and a couple others, went down the hallways, kept everybody in the classroom, made sure that everybody stayed in the classroom.
And we tried to protect the students as best as we could.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What happened next?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we just -- as time progressed, we just heard more shots ringing out. And it was always a multiple shots, never just one or two. It was several shots. It must have been at least 20.
And we just told everybody, stay in the room. I was over looking -- I was over looking from my office. I saw the police officers working on an injured person, and basically a lot of running around.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do we know where the shots were coming from? Second floor...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They seemed to be the second-floor atrium area.
Basically, when you walk in from Maisonneuve, there is an atrium area. And, from what I have heard from eyewitnesses, from the students that were there, that's where it happened.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And do we know anything about the shooter?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no idea. We -- but the priority was getting the students safe.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And do -- I mean, when you -- did you see any injuries? Did you see anybody like...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We saw somebody shot in the neck. We saw a couple people being taken away. We don't really know the extent of anything.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Everyone that I have seen has seemed really shaking, running away from the school. How would you describe what the atmosphere was when this was going on?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: They're -- for many of the students and the teachers, we were just in emergency mode. And we really were just working on adrenaline. I don't -- we were just working to make sure everyone was safe.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LIN: All right, one of the police officers at Dawson College saying that he actually saw a police officer firing in this situation, as gunmen opened fire. He heard that it was near the atrium.
We have learned from the local Montreal reporter that the atrium is right over the cafeteria area, where she says that this shooting occurred.
And, right now, as we speak, police are going door to door inside that building, trying to see if there are any more gunmen on the loose. We have confirmed with Dawson College that two of the gunmen have died. Earlier reports said that one committed suicide and the other one was shot by police.
We're still working on the total number killed, but Reuters is reporting that four people were killed and 16 injured, the college saying that three of the students were critically injured.
You know, here at CNN, whenever something happens internationally, we almost always have somebody who is from that area, familiar with that area.
Our very own business reporter, Ali Velshi, knows this area well.
Ali, some of your thoughts as you're -- as you're looking at these pictures and the situation unfolding right now.
ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Carol, it was -- it's chilling, actually, because Mike Brooks was saying earlier that Montreal police are well-trained and they handle things.
Well, there's nothing they're better trained for than a shooting at a college, because, as you mentioned earlier, in 1989, a gunman opened fire at the l'Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, killing 14 women.
So, when something like this happens in Montreal, everybody's thoughts go back to that day in 1989, a day that, in fact, contributed to Canada's very strong gun laws, because of that massacre.
But Montreal police, if there are drills that they train for, they know about shootings at colleges, so they probably go into today with some -- with some training. The other thing to think about is, Dawson College, right in downtown Montreal, was the first English- speaking college in the CEGEP system.
Now, CEGEP is a French acronym for basically what are preparatory schools, which means that, while they have college courses as you would think of in -- in the United States, this is also a preparatory school for universities in Canada, which means students at this college could be as young as 16 years old, and may well be as young as 16 years old.
There have been reports we have seen from people who are, you know, 17 or 18. So, we're talking about something that is half a high school and half a college. There are some very young kids involved in this right now. And this is probably sending a chill through all sorts of people in Montreal.
This is right downtown. And the police seem to be handling it. But if there's anything they have drilled for, like in so many other places, the kinds of terrorist attacks police forces drill for, in Montreal, they know how to react to a college shooting.
LIN: Yes. And taking a look at this shot right now, Ali, earlier, Mike Brooks, the security analyst you're referring to, was saying that he saw a small security camera. He believes that authorities are able to -- even as this search is going on, on campus, they're able to access that videotape to try to identify how many shooters, exactly what happened, critical information there.
But it's a question -- as you say, you know, it's right in downtown Montreal -- whether any -- if there are any more suspects, whether they were able to get away.
VELSHI: Yes. I mean, there's a metro stop right nearby. This really is right by downtown Montreal. It's a heavily populated city, particularly at the lunch hour. So, you know, hard to know what they can see.
But, after that shooting in 1989, which was a hate crime, colleges, universities, high schools in Quebec understood that they have really got to take their security very seriously.
VELSHI: So, as Mike Brooks said, it would be quite normal to expect that they have got better-than-average security systems or surveillance systems. That should help police out, if they're still looking for anyone.
LIN: Yes. That 1989 shooting was allegedly because the suspect, a man, was -- did not get admittance to that engineering school, and he targeted women specifically.
VELSHI: Women. Killed 14 women.
LIN: It was so tragic, one of the biggest mass murders in Canadian history.
Ali, thanks so much for your perspective and your knowledge of this situation, and the -- the layout of this college campus, as this search continues. We can appreciate even better what police forces are up against, as they search a very large campus, some 10,000 students.
VELSHI: Yes, and a city that, of course, has got to operate. They have told parents not to come to the school, because, being right downtown, obviously, people are going to try and converge on the area.
VELSHI: And, as you just said, it's not clear who else is involved in this, whether they got have everybody they need. So, they're trying to keep people away from the site at the moment, so that they can get a handle on it.
But as Genevieve was just pointing out, there are police behind cars. They're really doing their best to try and contain this situation. Montreal, downtown, is quite contained. It's a grid system, so, they should be able to close in and seal it off. LIN: Yes.
VELSHI: But that's what they're looking at right now.
LIN: All right, to see if there are any more gunmen -- two reported dead, according to a source at the college.
Ali, thank you.
LIN: Fredricka Whitfield, also, on the breaking news desk, has been working another developing story, a bank hostage situation in the Midwest -- Fred.
WHITFIELD: That's right.
Remember, just at the beginning of the 1:00 Eastern hour, we talked about an alleged attempted bank robbery which had snowballed into a hostage situation?
Well, now a couple hours later, we're hearing from police there that this hostage situation had ended peacefully, without injuries. But here is the catch. Now, a reminder: This is taking place in Dolton, Illinois, which is south of Chicago there at the Heritage Community Bank.
Now we're able to confirm that not only did this end peacefully, without any injuries, but the strange thing is now, officials are looking for the alleged gunman who apparently tried to carry out this attempted bank robbery.
According to some wire reports, that -- police entered the Heritage Community Bank, and then found two of the employees in the bank's downstairs bathroom. They were able to clear the building, after initially searching it. But they weren't able to find this alleged gunman who tried to carry out this attempted bank robbery, a very strange situation, as they believe, Carol, that they are now continuing an extensive search of this alleged gunman, based on the descriptions they may have been able to get from these employees.
Earlier, it was unclear how many hostages were inside this building. Now we're at least hearing a number of at least two employees that were found in a -- a downstairs bathroom. But, bottom line, it's over now, after a couple of hours, and, thankfully, without any injuries.
Just a bizarre situation, though...
WHITFIELD: ... as they continue to look now for this alleged gunman -- Carol.
LIN: You know, Tenisha Abernathy, one of our executive producers here at CNN, very familiar with that area, she sent me an e-mail earlier to say that this particular bank...
LIN: ... is in an extremely residential neighborhood. It's not a big business district.
WHITFIELD: Right. And it has been there forever. And this really was kind of like a family bank, one that everybody in that community used very readily. Everyone kind of knew one another, et cetera.
And that something like this would happen in this very residential area is very strange -- but, thank goodness, Carol, no reported injuries.
LIN: Well, a busy day right here at the CNN NEWSROOM.
We got -- we have more, also, on the developing situation, the breaking news out of Montreal, a shooting on that Dawson College campus.
We are going to have more. We will be right back.
LIN: You're looking at pictures out of our developing story in Montreal, Canada, where gunmen opened fire on the Dawson College campus. We're hearing that, according to the college, two gunmen are dead. Police right now are searching to see if there are any more.
Early eyewitness reports say that they saw at least three to four gunmen. So, someone may still be on the loose, a developing situation right now.
We have a reporter, contact with a reporter on the ground right now, Genevieve Beauchemin. She's with CFCF, a local Montreal station.
Genevieve, can you tell us what's happening right now? Any new developments?
BEAUCHEMIN: Well, we don't have a lot of new developments, except we do see that the SWAT team is here. And the police officers are still crouching behind those vehicles.
We have been told they are still going through the building. They are still trying to find out whether there are any more gunmen inside. They say that they have been going through, and, so far, they have found no more injured inside, but they're still looking.
I do have a student with me here, Katherine Bobeaux (ph), who was inside at that time and who -- tell me a little bit about what you saw.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I didn't really see anything. I was sitting in the cafeteria. And I just heard, like, gunshots, about five of them. And everyone just got up and left, just ran out. BEAUCHEMIN: Did you catch a sight of the gunman? We have been -- a little bit of what he looked like?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I have no idea. I have heard descriptions about him, but I haven't seen him.
BEAUCHEMIN: Tell me what it was like getting out of the building.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was like -- it was pretty -- like, there were so many people, like, just getting out at the same time. It was hard, because everyone just wanted to go out the same place and just get out. It took like, you know, like about five minutes before the cops came and, you know, took everyone out.
BEAUCHEMIN: I have heard it described as a stampede. Is that what you would say?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
BEAUCHEMIN: And did you see any of the people who were injured, I'm told, of the people sitting outside? What was that like?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There were people on the sidewalk. And they had bandages on them. Someone was bleeding from the shoulder. I saw someone go into the ambulance, but I have -- that's all I know.
BEAUCHEMIN: We're being told by -- thank you, Katherine.
We're being told by the hospital, the emergency services here, that there are people in hospital that are seriously injured, at least four of them in critical condition. But the situation is still being assessed. There's still a lot of things happening here.
LIN: Genevieve, give us an idea. We say college, so that indicates, you know, students who are older. But we understand that actually there may be high school-aged students who attend Dawson College.
BEAUCHEMIN: Yes. It's an interesting system here in Quebec. It's a bit different.
These would be about 16-, 17-year-old students here. It's a pre- university situation. A bit higher than high school, but before university age. So, yes, that would be about 16, 17-year-olds.
Dawson College is quite a large college here in Montreal. It has about 10,000 students, English-speaking here. And it has a very varied population, lots of people from different ethnic backgrounds here at this college.
LIN: You know, the scene that you described and we have been watching, and -- and video coming into the CNN NEWSROOM, of really utter chaos and panic, as these students are running.
You spoke with a student who was trying to call some of her friends, because people are trying to account, to see who was injured, who might have been killed. Earlier, we just saw -- one of our producers saw a student carrying a sign saying, "Looking for," and then with some names.
Are -- are you seeing that, as people try to piece together whether their friends are dead or alive?
BEAUCHEMIN: Oh, absolutely.
People have been telling me that they're looking for their friends. They're trying to -- this is the age of cell phones, of course. And, so, many, many of them have cell phones, but those lines are very, very busy. People are streaming out of the college. And they're calling their parents.
They were calling home to make sure that their parents knew they were safe. And they were looking for their friends. Some people were saying that they haven't heard from some of them. But, of course, the situation is so chaotic.
And, as I said, some of the phone lines are hard to get, because everyone is trying to get in touch with everyone else that they know at the college.
LIN: Genevieve Beauchemin, thank you very much. She's with the Montreal local, CFCF, on the ground there, reporting firsthand.
We're also beginning to hear from the authorities. This is the latest from Montreal Metro Police.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We will go with the English update now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got a vast perimeter that has been established now. Atwater, Wood, Maisonneuve, and Sherbrooke Street are blocked now.
We're asking the public, please, do not show up on the scene. The perimeter is complete blocked now. And the reason of that, the purpose of that, we believe there might be other suspect inside the Dawson College.
The other problem that we got at this point, people are scared for their relative. And we do understand them. But the thing is, if they show up, it is going to be dangerous for them now at this point. We do have SWAT team on the scene, trying to locate possible suspects.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: People have been injured. We do have people injured.
My college from (INAUDIBLE) is going to be able to give you that. But we do have people injured.
QUESTION: Any police injured?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And we're talking about people seriously injured.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: At this point, we don't have any police officers that have been injured during the operation.
QUESTION: Are you in touch with the suspects?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got a SWAT team on the scene.
QUESTION: Is there anyone dead?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We got people in a very serious condition. We will confirm you later the state of those victims.
What is our main priority at this point? It's to establish perimeter, to evacuate people who are still inside the building. You do see people evacuate from the building. So, this is our first priority, but because of that danger, we're doing that with SWAT team and with all the precaution.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But we're all on the scene now.
QUESTION: What does the suspect look like?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: It is hard to tell you, ma'am, what the suspect looked like, because the thing is, right now, we do have investigators from the homicide squad questioning witnesses to see how many suspects we're talking about.
So far, we got one suspect that was neutralized. And I will tell you his state a little bit later on.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm just going to ask you to ask me one question at a time, please.
QUESTION: Are there explosives inside, Ian (ph)?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're not talking about any explosives. The thing is, what is dangerous at this point, we have all kind of urban legend. And this is extremely dangerous. People are giving all kind of information. So far, we got a perimeter. So far, we got one suspect that was neutralized. He's not shooting anymore.
And if you're talking about other suspect still inside the building, we have got a SWAT team inside the building. So, people don't have to run, don't have to be scared in the perimeter.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We do have the situation under control. We will tell you later on how many people have been injured.
QUESTION: Are you talking to the suspect?
QUESTION: Are there hostages? Are there hostages?
QUESTION: Are you talking to the suspect?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're looking for suspects now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first person -- the first person that was seen with a weapon have been neutralized.
QUESTION: That means killed?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was it by himself? Was it by a police officer? We will tell you that later on.
QUESTION: How many other...
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LIN: All right, this interview with the Montreal Metro Police happened just in the last 10 minutes.
And why that's important to note is because Dawson College has confirmed to CNN that two gunmen are dead. But that police officer just said that one suspect has been neutralized. That was his wording.
Mike Brooks, a security analyst that we talk to a lot during these crime scenes, Mike, what does that mean? That means says that he says that the gunman is dead, right?
MIKE BROOKS, CNN LAW ENFORCEMENT ANALYST: Yes. That means the gunman is dead, either by his own hand or by law enforcement.
Carol, I -- one of the things I found very interesting was, as we were looking at all the video coming in, I noticed one police officer.
And let me go -- just go back a little bit. We heard from two witnesses that we -- that we have heard over the last half-hour, two witnesses saying, you know, that the shooting took place -- one of the witnesses was a student -- the other one was a teacher -- that it was taking place in the atrium, which is...
LIN: Mike? OK, we might have lost him.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi. How are you?
LIN: All right.
Let's clarify the phone connection with Mike Brooks.
But what he was talking about was eyewitness accounts. He was saying, yes, we have heard that it took place in the atrium. That's near the cafeteria.
Mike, I think you're back.
So, you're saying that, yes, eyewitnesses said it took place near the atrium, which is -- what I understand, from talking with the local reporter on the scene, is over -- the atrium is over the cafeteria, where she has heard from eyewitnesses that's where the shooting took place.
But your observations?
BROOKS: Carol, can you hear me now?
BROOKS: Yes. Yes.
As I was saying, we have heard from two witnesses, you know, that it was in the atrium and over top of the cafeteria where most of the people were injured and most -- where most of the people heard the shots.
And we heard from the one witness that said that they saw the shooter exchanging fire with law enforcement. And then there was a picture of one of the -- of an officer who was leaning against a car, and there was another female officer there who seemed to be comforting him, you know, like touching his arm. And he pulled his earplug out of his ear, basically taking himself out of the game. And, you know, why that...
LIN: So, you think he might have been injured?
BROOKS: It does look like he was injured.
You know, so, that says to me that there's a possibility that we have heard now witness accounts now that he has been neutralized.
BROOKS: You know, the PIO, the public information officer...
LIN: Yes. BROOKS: ... when you talk about being neutralized, that usually is police -- is cop talk for the police officer -- police being involved in that.
BROOKS: So -- but it could go either way, since we have heard, you know, two separate stories now, one from Dawson College, and one from police.
And that's why it's very important in situations like this that everyone speaks with one voice.
BROOKS: And that's all part of an incident management system. And the police, I would go with what the police have to say. But, then again, we have heard from a number of different sources.
LIN: Yes. Right.
Also, even a professor who saw that a police officer was chasing one of the gunmen outside the campus. So, the gunman hadn't made it perhaps into the atrium -- different crime scenes on that campus.
Mike Brooks, stay right there, because we just got Aaron Cohen. Aaron is with the SWAT team -- is a SWAT team trainer.
Aaron, can you give us an idea what the situation is on the campus right now? How is the search going?
AARON COHEN, SWAT TEAM TRAINER: The situation on the campus right now seems pretty limited.
I think what we're seeing is a perimeter that's being held by the SWAT officers. And what they're doing now is, they're probably interrogating, or interviewing, the students who have actually come out of the campus to, A, determine whether or not they were, in fact, involved with the shooting, to some extent, or, B, see what other information they can gather from inside.
But it looks like, right now, they're holding a perimeter. And I don't see any dynamic entry being pushed into the school for further sweeping at this...
LIN: Aaron, just for clarification, are you with Montreal police?
COHEN: No, I'm not.
LIN: Or are you here in the United States?
COHEN: No, I'm in the United States. LIN: All right. So, you are an analyst here observing the situation with us. Excuse me, because, you know, this is a rolling situation. I was just given your name and your title.
So, in analyzing this situation, you agree that one potential problem could be that, if there is another gunman, that this person could blend into the crowd. That's one of the -- got to be one of the concerns that Montreal police might have.
COHEN: Well, one of the concerns that Montreal police have is, they don't have a tremendous amount -- tremendous amount of experience dealing with this.
And we don't know what type of person we're talking about here, other than what we call an active shooter. Typically, the U.S. forces or the U.S. SWAT teams are trained to go in immediately, after what happened in Columbine. It's a big (INAUDIBLE) now. (INAUDIBLE) in that school. They need to be pushing hard. They need to be pushing fast.
And the reason why is because there could be another active shooter inside the school. First (INAUDIBLE) save lives, and eliminate the threats immediately, and, then, afterwards, you know, start to ask the questions.
We just heard from Montreal Metro Police, who -- who did an interview just about 10 minutes ago. So, the latest, what he is saying, is that there are people injured seriously. SWAT is on the scene. And the first priority is evacuation. The first priority is not necessarily finding another shooter, but the first priority is evacuation, and that homicide is starting to question some of the eyewitnesses.
LIN: When you take a look at the building, Aaron, though, I want you to analyze this for me, because it's a huge campus.
And the building that we're looking at now, we're just seeing a fraction of it on our air. Going into a situation like that, where you're going door to door, it is almost like an urban combat situation, because you don't know what you're going to come across.
COHEN: You know, it is exactly like an urban combat situation. And that's the reason why we have special weapons and tactics teams. They have special vests, special weapons, and special training to deploy in situations where there are a lot of 90-degree, opposing angles and walls, which is exactly what this campus is made up of.
And I agree with the Montreal police, and I think that the first priority is saving lives. (INAUDIBLE). We need to make sure that we get officers inside that building in order look for explosives, other potential shooters, and potentially wounded people who might be inside who don't have the ability to get out, because they may be injured. So, it's a two-layered system. One, we need to be getting people out. Two (INAUDIBLE) need to get that SWAT team, get the gear on those guys, and get them pressing dynamically and clearing every one of those rooms and hallways. And a properly trained SWAT team, it shouldn't take them more than a couple of minutes to get from one side to the other.
LIN: Yes. But it's a huge building. I mean, it's a block long. How long do you think it's going to take for them to clear that area, to know that there are no survivors left, people who need immediate medical attention? Time is of the essence.
COHEN: Absolutely. Absolutely.
I think the initial dynamic entry should take no longer than minutes. They should be sprinting from down hallways and into rooms, and looking for immediate threats. Then, they follow up with what's called a secondary sweep, which is when they go in with larger amounts of officers and they integrate patrol. RCMP, I'm sure, is probably down there.
And, then, they begin what's called a law enforcement clear, which is slow and methodical. They look under chairs. They look under tables, looking into closets, underneath desks, and they're really starting to pick apart that school, using the dogs, got an incredible sensory capability.
And they're looking for potential threats (INAUDIBLE) might be hiding, who don't want to come out, or potential injured (INAUDIBLE) And, again, we don't know whether this is a terrorist or whether it's just, you know, some, you know, crazy (INAUDIBLE) student or a potential employee. So, you really -- you have got treat this thing as if it was a tier-one threat. And that's the way they need to be going at it.
LIN: And when you say tier one, what do you mean, a terrorist...
COHEN: Tier one meaning -- tier one meaning -- meaning, until we know what it is, we have to treat this thing as if it was the worst type of potential enemy, which means I wouldn't rule out terror. I wouldn't say that it is necessarily a terrorist.
Until we know, we have to be deploying the top guys with the top tactics, and -- and really not making any mistakes, because, you know, time is really money on this one (INAUDIBLE) injured.
LIN: Right. And what is going to be the defining question or clue as homicide detectives interview these eyewitness suspects to rule them out -- excuse me, these eyewitness students to rule them out as suspects?
COHEN: Well, what's going to happen is they're going to be able to interrogate and come out with answers very quickly. I mean, you can tell by looking into the eyes of one of these students or faculty members exactly who they are. It's not a long, drawn out process.
What they're probably doing at this point is isolating all the people coming out of the building and quickly questioning them while keeping them apart. And basically, you know, looking for red flag indicators, which would be somebody who is, you know, trying to force their answers, somebody who is trying to clear security forces. I'd be looking people who are running in directions away from security.
It's a process that's relatively quick. Again, as they're interrogating -- the real answers are going to be inside the school. That's where they're going to find out exactly what's going on. They want to look at weaponry, they want to look at who that person is who apparently took his life who was involved with the actual shooting. And they want to check I.D., if there's any I.D. on that guy. And they want to see if there's any relationship between him or the school in some manner.
You know, the investigation portion of it, I think, is secondary right now as opposed to the immediate threat, which is subduing a potential shooter that could still be lurking inside that huge campus.
LIN: Right, and saving lives. Aaron, stay on the phone with me, because we also have some sound from a professor on that campus. I want you to listen in with me. I'm not sure what he's going to say just yet, but he may say something -- more of an eyewitness account. Let's listen in.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, we were -- we heard shots and were told to stay in our office. We stayed in our office. There was seven of us. And then the police came door to door. They told us to put our hands up and come out one by one, which we did. We ran down the hall. And then at two places along the way -- I think one's on the second floor and one's in the atrium -- there was big pools of blood.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What goes through your mind when you see something like this?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I don't know. We were just sort of trying to get out of there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They wouldn't let us think. It's like go, go, go, go.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it's just go, go, go, keep your hands up, keep running, et cetera. And there are police everywhere. I don't know how many police are in there, but there's a lot of police in there. Dogs, SWAT, everything.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Do you have any idea of who the shooter was?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, no idea. We weren't near the shooting. We heard the shots, but we weren't near it. I heard probably about five. UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I heard more.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Is there any kids inside?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I have no idea.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: They're going door to door down the halls. There's huge numbers of cops.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
LIN: All right, that is a professor who teaches at Dawson College. This is what a student had to say.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Some guy came in the cafeteria out of nowhere and started shooting. He shot like three or four shots. Everybody got down and everybody slowly went towards like the cafeteria, like the actual cafeteria where you buy the food. And they went slowly, slowly. And then you saw there was a guy getting alone, so he started shooting a couple of people.
That I know of, three people got shot. Like the first time, I just saw someone else, I don't know where that person came from. People got shot. One in the arm and the leg, and two others in the arm only. And I tried to help them out, like give them my belt, stop the circulation. And then let's say ten minutes later, like it all finished. Like I came outside, just bringing my friend to the ambulance. And you saw the guy that was -- had the gun like an automatic rifle, like a big gun, like really could have like killed a lot of people easily.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What was the shooter like? Can you describe him to me?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Six foot, trenchcoats, punk. That's about it I can say. Then I just left.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And what did he look like?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Like a normal student. He looked like a student with a trenchcoat.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Why -- did you see him (INAUDIBLE)?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, I just saw him like talking with him, like with his gun out, pointing at them and at us.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So police were in the cafeteria?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Two. Two at first, and then there was like 20 when we got out.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And he was pointing to the police? UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No, he was pointing to everyone. That's how other people got shot. Because when he saw people like -- he saw he was getting trapped in the corner because everybody was leaving, he started shooting people on the ground.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What was he saying as he was firing?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was saying nothing. He was just shooting. He told people to get away and that's it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How old is he?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Twenty, 19, 20, 21.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Could he be a student?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He could have been a student.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: How on Earth do you see (INAUDIBLE) and you saw a friend get shot?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, one of the friends got shot, in the leg and in the arm. Right beside me. Like, we're crawling to get away and she got hurt. I didn't believe it. I had to drag her there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Ah, geez. How are you feeling right now.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I am trembling. I don't know what to say. I'm speechless. I don't know why the hell that happened. I don't understand.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you see anyone die?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What floor was it on?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Second.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Second floor?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Second floor.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Did you see anyone -- we've heard that someone died?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I think he died. I think he died, I think. Because I saw him like when I got out with my friend in my arms, he was on the ground like bleeding from the mouth, like, severely, yes. But no one -- I don't think anybody died.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: What was the reaction when he started shooting?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody went to the ground, everybody. And started slowly going into the cafeteria.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Screaming? I mean, how scared was... UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Well, some people were crying. The girls -- most girls were crying and slowly going and saying I'm going to die, I'm going to die. And that's pretty much it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And your girl? Have you talked to her, your friend?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: She went to the ambulance and I couldn't go with her.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is from...
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is her blood.
LIN: A young man, a remarkable young man, who may have saved lives there, stopping the bleeding from one of the victims, dragging a girl to safety.
Fredricka Whitfield, you've been working this story from the breaking news desk. Still confusing about the number of dead and injured.
WHITFIELD: Right, still conflicting numbers. The latest number coming from emergency officials now is -- according to the Associated Press, 12 wounded, six critically. And what was interesting from that young man's account, he talked about, you know, all the events that took place just prior to the shooting, and then following the shooting.
He even described on tape, which a portion that we didn't hear on the air there, but I saw it as it was being fed in, he described that it appeared to be that gunman could have been 21 years old. And that young man said he could have very well been a student there, because he was somebody who could have easily blended in. The only difference is that day he was wearing a trenchcoat and kind of had, you know, a dark look about him.
So again, the latest information coming from officials. Just wanted to add a little bit about his interview, which was pretty remarkable, that didn't make air right away. But the latest number from officials is that 12 have been wounded, six critically.
LIN: All right, Fred, thank you very much. Just a few minutes ago, I was speaking with Aaron Cohen. He's a SWAT team trainer. I asked him to listen in on the eyewitnesses' accounts to give us an idea of the tactics on the ground right now, what happens next on the Dawson College campus as gunmen open fire. I hope to continue my conversation with Aaron after a quick break.
LIN: Developing story out of Montreal, Canada. You're looking at the chaos in the aftermath of a campus shooting where reports of perhaps as many as four gunmen opening fire on that college campus, and police in hot pursuit across the campus. Right now officers are going door to door making sure these specialists, tactical specialists, going door to door making sure that there are no wounded left in the classrooms.
Lives can be saved still, whether there are gunmen still on the campus. We've heard -- well, Dawson College told us that two gunmen have died. But police a short time ago told reporters only one so far has been killed in this hot pursuit.
Aaron Cohen, he is a SWAT team trainer. He's been watching these pictures with me, he's been listening with me to interviews coming in. We heard from a professor who described shots, maybe five or six officers going door to door, how officers came in, told them to throw their hands up in the air and rushed them down the hallway, and another student who saw the shooter -- at least one shooter in the cafeteria carrying what he called an automatic rifle aiming at no one in particular but aiming at everyone who was moving as they were trying to get out of the way of these bullets.
Aaron Cohen, give me your perspective. You heard these eyewitness accounts. First, how reliable are they?
COHEN: I think the accounts are relatively reliable because, obviously, you've got these people in the area of operation. They clearly came out of the school. Whether or not they've been embellished, they'll find out, but I think that this is some real stuff right here.
And I think that when you're in a situation where you're in fear of your life and you're standing and interviewing with police officers and the media, you you're going to get a pretty accurate -- or you're going to get a pretty close account of what it is that they saw. There's no reason for them not to be accurate. I thought what was interesting was this news describing the actual gunman. It sounds a lot like Columbine.
COHEN: You've got a trenchcoat, you've got a young male who went to a specific place for a specific reason to do a specific thing. This was a goal-oriented mission. Now what exactly the reasons or the goals of this, what pushed and pulled and made him want to go there is yet to be determined. Again, he went to a specific campus for a specific reason.
And he didn't show up there with a small handgun or a small rifle. It sounds to me like this guy went in there with a potentially submachine gun, or high caliber assault rifle, and really had absolutely no concern for the lives other than carrying out his mission.
LIN: Because I was listening as the student was describing how the shooter moved from the atrium into the cafeteria. It wasn't as if he was hunting for anyone in particular. As students heard the bullets, he was just firing randomly, and then people dropped to the ground. A girl was trying to inch her way out of harm's way and he shot her because she was moving. So what was his agenda?
COHEN: Sounds a lot like -- I think the agenda here, and I don't want to point my finger and call this suspect a terrorist. What I will say is that not unlike a terrorist, this person showed up in a particular place to obviously do as much damage as possible. And as you can see, there was a tremendous psychological impact, there's media everywhere, people are scared.
Even the law enforcement officers, they're going into what's called an unstable environment with men who could be as armed as they are. It's very testing of this team's character and of their training. And I think that when this thing sort of cools down, you're going to get a good sense of where Montreal's special weapons unit was.
And it seems to me they've been moving people out of the school. They've been searching from door to door, and they've been asking questions and making sure that that terrorist or that potential shooter isn't sneaking out into that crowded mayhem. Seems like they're on the right track.
LIN: Aaron, we've been hearing reports of maybe up to four gunmen. That's what several eyewitnesses have told both a Canadian reporter I've been talking with as well as Canadian wire services, so it seems pretty consistent. The school, Dawson College, has told CNN that two gunmen are dead. All right. Potentially two more may be on the loose. Your gut feeling as you're watching the situation on the ground with us, do you think they got away?
COHEN: My gut feeling is that that campus needs to be swept from A to Z with a Q-tip. That's what these SWAT guys train for. It's time for them to go to work. That's why they've got the equipment and the weaponry and all the expensive training.
It doesn't matter what the reports are. This is what's known as a rapid-response emergency intervention. This is an environment where surprise was working against law enforcement, and they need to stay focused on the sweep, on the interrogation, to get realtime information from the school and really just figure out what's going on based on a methodical sweep, not on what reports are.
The reports are important, but they're not going to know or they won't have a 100 percent, you know, sterile environment until they physically look with their eyes and point their weapons into those corners of the school to make sure there is not any more armed gunmen, terrorists, whatever it was.
LIN: Because there are only three scenarios. They either blended in with the student population, they got away, or they're somewhere on campus.
COHEN: Correct. Now, what we're seeing right now is clearly a perimeter. That's rule number one of your response. That perimeter enables them to contain the area in order to control the blow, unlike the Beslan attack in Russia. You know, it was mayhem. We had millions of weapons jumping in there -- in another study with our farm (ph).
This case, they seemed to have cordoned off the area appropriately. They've sterilized inside. They're going door to door, classroom to classroom. Look, we've got a guy here who wasn't messing around.
You know, I think when this thing is over, the question is going to be what type of security measures -- you know, you've got a guy walking in with a trenchcoat, it is not normal for this time of the year. It's just not. And those are the things we have to be looking at, especially when it comes to protecting our kids.
LIN: Absolutely. Aaron Cohen, a trainer with the -- SWAT team trainer. Appreciate your time. Stick around if you can. We're going to take a quick break. We have eyewitness accounts. Coming up, you're going to hear from the people who were there. They saw the gunman. They saw it go down, and they also helped to save lives. We'll be right back.
LIN: Welcome back to our coverage of this developing story, a shooting on a Montreal College campus leaves at least two people dead. Two of them may be the gunmen. Actually, four killed according to earlier reports, two may be the gunmen. This was utter chaos as the shooting broke out at about 1:00 on this quiet college campus in urban Montreal. And one young man, who saw some of it go down, is Daniel Mightley. He is a student at Dawson College and he joins me on the telephone right now.
Daniel, you saw one of the gunmen. Where were you?
DANIEL MIGHTLEY, DAWSON COLLEGE STUDENT: I was just in the process of coming out of Dawson. I was going to go eat lunch with one of my friends. We just finished class.
LIN: And what did you see?
MIGHTLEY: And then we took no more than six steps outside the door and the gunman was on our right and he just started. He fired like one shot, and like everybody around just like stopped, because it sounded like a firecracker, kind of. Then he just started shooting at everybody and everybody just turned around and ran back inside.
LIN: Can you describe him?
MIGHTLEY: He was tall like, I'd say probably around 6'2. He was wearing all black, black trench coat and he had like a pale face with a black Mohawk.
LIN: A black Mohawk.
LIN: How old do you think he was?
MIGHTLEY: He didn't look like he was too, I would say in his 20s, because he didn't look all that old.
LIN: So we're hearing that he could have been a student there. He could look like a student there.
MIGHTLEY: Yes, he could, he could well have been a student at Dawson.
LIN: Did you see his face? Could you see his expression? Did he say anything?
MIGHTLEY: Like, I saw his face and he had like no emotion in his face whatsoever. He didn't say anything. It wasn't like he was saying run or I'm going to kill you or anything. He was just walking towards us very slowly and he was just shooting.
LIN: Did he see you?
MIGHTLEY: Possibly. He was maybe 15, 20 feet away from me.
LIN: But he wasn't firing at you?
MIGHTLEY: No, he was just shooting, like, because we have two pillars, kind of, that you have to, and then you take three steps and it brings you to reach street level. And he was standing on the right-hand side and people had their backs to him, because that's where would sit to have a smoke or whatever. And he was just shooting at them and then made his way into the school.
LIN: Did you see people get shot?
MIGHTLEY: I saw one person get shot.
LIN: What did you do? What were you thinking?
MIGHTLEY: I was kind of stunned because I was just like, everybody stopped and I looked to my right and I saw him with this gun. I was like, is this for real, is it actually a real gun?
LIN: It must have been surreal. It must have been absolutely surreal.
MIGHTLEY: And is he actually holding a real gun or is it just like somebody playing a practical joke. But then, like, he just started shooting and we just turned around and ran back inside.
LIN: Did you find yourself almost staring at him then?
MIGHTLEY: It was kind of like I so in doubt, like I just completely lost focus until he fired again. And then it's just like, OK, I've got to move right now, because if I don't move, I could lose my life right now.
LIN: Where did you go? What did you do?
MIGHTLEY: I'm a student of the Community Recreation Leadership Training Program and we have our own common room, kind of, where we have classrooms and stuff like that. So I had gone immediately up to the third floor and into that area because as soon as you close the doors, nobody could come in unless they have a code.
LIN: So you knew you'd be safe in there.
MIGHTLEY: Yes, exactly. So and then I saw a couple of my fellow classmates in there and I was just like guys we've got to move to the back room because somebody is in the school shooting. We just closed all the doors and walked all the way to the back.
LIN: There was a police chase at one point. One of the professors on the Dawson College campus actually saw a gunman running and a police officer chasing him. Shots were fired. Did you see any police at all at that time?
MIGHTLEY: It's funny, it's not really funny, but when we walked outside there was a police car parked right in front of our school.
LIN: Just as a matter of course or do you think they were looking for the shooter? They already knew that there was a shooter on campus?
MIGHTLEY: Honestly, I couldn't tell you because usually there's always police around Dawson, just to make sure that everything is fine, there is no violence going on or whatever the case may be. They were just parked right outside and then once the shots were fired, once you go up to the third floor, there's kind of like a balcony, kind of, and you could see down into where the cafeteria is.
One of my friends I was with, we just took like a quick glance and we saw one of the police officers in between the doors and he was just like, he had his firearm drawn and he was pointing it down. He was like, kind of peeking around the corner to see where the guy had gone.
LIN: Because we heard that the shooting actually started in the atrium and continued in the cafeteria.
MIGHTLEY: Yes, exactly.
LIN: So are they next to each other? Give us an idea. Try to give us a mind's eye of the area where it happened.
MIGHTLEY: So the way our atrium is formed, it is kind of like a big doughnut. Then on the left side and on the right side on the second floor there's two paths. There's one on the right that is side called Conrads and one on the left that doesn't really have a name, it's just an opened space and there's like a cafeteria on the corner. People go in, buy their food, and then they come right out and then you just, like a sitting area.
LIN: Go ahead, Daniel.
MIGHTLEY: And then, so that's just the way it's formatted. So, as soon as you come into the school, to your left and to your right, there's a cafeteria. And he had gone to the right hand side. LIN: Daniel Mightley, you're a lucky man to be alive and I'm sure police want to talk to you. I hope you've contacted them. They want to talk with any eyewitness who can help piece together this crime scene.
LIN: Daniel Mightley, thank you so much for joining us.
MIGHTLEY: Thank you.
LIN: All right, we've got also contact with some report on the ground. Amanda Pfeffer. She's with the Canadian Broadcasting Company, the CBC. Amanda, what's the latest situation there?
AMANDA PFEFFER, CBC: Hi Carol. Well, we understand police will say that there are at least four dead, that they can say, including one of the shooters, who seems to have shot himself. They are also confirming that there are at least 13 injured, 8 of them in critical condition. And they are spread out over two hospitals here in the Montreal area.
Now, again, Dawson College is the college that is right on this side of the street. This is a center city school, about 10,000 students attend this school, a multicultural, multiethnic school. Right across from it is a shopping mall. The scene that your witness described is indeed what seems to have happened, what we've heard from witnesses as well. Someone appeared at the front doors on this side of the street, started shooting with an automatic weapon of some kind and then entered into the school and started shooting in the larger atrium and then made his way into the cafeteria.
We are hearing scenes of students who barricade themselves into classrooms, putting the furniture in front of the doors, crying, scared, holding on to each other, phoning each other on cell phones. Teachers and staff barricading themselves into libraries, just waiting and listening to what was going on, the horror that was going on outside. What we also, what you should know about Dawson, as well, is that it's right on top of a subway system and attached through underground, a maze of underground corridors to several malls. There's a Westmount Square Mall here and there's the Alexis Neon Mall here, as well as a very large office building here. And police are suggesting that there could be at least two, perhaps as many as three, there's still a police operation going on here. They suggest that one of the gentlemen may have shot himself.
They seem to have, they will not describe how it happened, but one of the people affected is out of commission. And there's a third person that could be still at large and he has made himself into some of these buildings through this maze, this corridor that's happening underneath.
LIN: All right, so Amanda, you're saying that there could be a third gunman who may be in that shopping center, maybe off campus already. PFEFFER: That's right and, in fact, in the shopping mall across, again, more scenes of store staffs locking behind their doors, just trying to see how this will end.
LIN: All right. Amanda Pfeffer with the CBC, thank you very much. So now we're learning from Amanda, on the scene, that the crime scene may have expanded to a shopping mall across the street. They are looking, potentially, for a third suspect in a shopping mall across from the college campus. We'll be right back with much more on this developing story.
LIN: Busy day in the CNN NEWSROOM as you're looking at the chaos outside of Dawson College in Montreal, Canada, where at least one gunman has opened fire on students. We have reports of two gunmen dead. The search for a third gunman now in a shopping mall across from the college campus. Special tactical teams are going door to door inside that college campus, looking for survivors, anyone wounded. CNN's Wolf Blitzer carrying on this story, this developing story from the "SITUATION ROOM" up in Washington, D.C., Wolf.
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