By The Associated Press
Related Story: N.J. school becomes police training ground
When a lone gunman entered Dawson college in Montreal and began shooting last September, police counted on new procedures and a bit of luck to neutralize the assailant quickly.
Kimveer Gill, 25, opened fire at the downtown Montreal college last September, slaying a young woman and wounding 19 other people before he turned the gun on himself as police cornered him.
As luck would have it police officers on the scene for an unrelated matter were rapid first responders able to spot the suspect. But in a city which had seen two college shootings in the 17 previous years, police had also gained experience from the previous incidents to keep the situation from getting out of control.
Montreal Police Chief Yvan Delorme said last September that precious lessons learned from other mass shootings had taught police to try to stop such assaults as quickly as possible.
"Before our technique was to establish a perimeter around the place and wait for the SWAT team. Now the first police officers go right inside. The way they acted saved lives," he said.
Montreal police refused to comment Monday about the tragic shooting at Virginia Tech, but as Americans try to make sense of the deadliest campus massacre in U.S. history which left at least 33 dead, including the gunman, questions have begun to emerge about the time allowed to elapse before authorities contained the shooting.
In Canada the lessons were painfully learned from the Dec. 6, 1989 college shooting at Montreal's Ecole Polytechnique, Canada's bloodiest, during which Marc Lepine entered a classroom at the engineering school, separated the men from the women, told the men to leave and opened fire, killing 14 women before killing himself.
While shots rang out at Ecole Polytechnique emergency personnel "had a perimeter outside and they waited. No one went inside," Delorme recalled last September.
Another shooting in Montreal occurred in 1992, when a Concordia University professor killed four colleagues.
By last September Montreal officers had changed their modus operandi and rushed into the building only a few minutes after the gunman.
"This time it was very efficient, very proactive," Delorme then said.
Aaron Cohen, a SWAT trainer based in California, said time is of the essence during such circumstances, as the quick intervention in Montreal eventually showed, avoiding a similar bloodbath.
"While they wait another innocent person is dead. There's just no time to sit around," Cohen told Canada's CBC TV. "It has to be fast.
On Monday a gunman opened fire in a Virginia Tech dorm and then, two hours later, shot up a classroom building across campus, killing 32 people in the deadliest shooting rampage in U.S. history. The gunman committed suicide, bringing the death toll to 33.
Virginia Tech President Charles Steger said authorities believed that the shooting at the dorm was a domestic dispute and mistakenly thought the gunman had fled the campus.
Copyright The Associated Press 2007. All Rights Reserved