Jason’s day at the office, one year ago

Whether we are covering monster hurricanes, terrorist bombings or political upheaval, the many servers and writers of the Metroblogging network have often proven useful when an entire city (or country) is having a really really bad day. One year ago myself and some of the other city captains were setting up a series of procedures for what we call “crisis mode”. I never expected these to be useful.

As we tried to make sense of what was happening in Dawson College, something in the back of my mind kept nagging at me. I knew that I knew somebody that worked there, but in those fevered hours I just couldn’t nail it down.

Turns out it was Jason, one of our own writer. Once he got his emotions in check, he was able to post what was, for a time, the only first hand account of the tragedy that was available online. Needless to say, it was read by tens of thousands of visitors. I am reposting it today to help us remember how we all felt on that terrible day.

Well, where do I begin?

First, my apologies for not posting a little sooner. I spent a good chunk of the afternoon outside near de Maisonneuve/Atwater, making and receiving countless phone calls, checking voicemail, talking to people and trying to help out by getting people pushed back farther away toward Lambert Closse. I finally decided it was time to go home around 3:15PM and walked to the Lionel Groulx Metro station where it was thankfully working in my direction. Once home, I fielded even more phone calls and tried to catch up on what the news was saying.

Trying to gather my thoughts over the last couple of hours, I’ve decided that I’m not going to bother with posting hourly updates. I don’t know anything more than what the news reports are saying. I’ll leave that sort of thing to my fellow Metbloggers, unless I have something of value to add.

My intention is to relay what I saw/heard and what I know as fact. I will also hopefully be posting, over the next couple of days, stories of some of my colleagues and other people that I will be talking to… if they are willing to share.

My story after the jump. (Be warned, it’s a little lengthy)

At approx. 12:45PM, I heard a few loud “pops” and thought little of it until I started hearing a stampede of students yelling and screaming, running past one of the entrances to my work area. It wasn’t the usual loud noises of joyful students playing around in the hallways, so I opened the door and asked one student what was going on and he nervously informed me that someone was shooting in the upper atrium. I then told the few remaining students in that hallway to continue in the direction they were heading and exit the building and then I shut that door (which is a side door to the print shop).

I then went to speak to a coworker to see if he knew anything, he knew nothing more than I did. He and I, along with a handful of other folks in the print shop were just kind of listening to more gunshots and screaming, trying to figure out what to do next because the shots were getting louder, therefor closer. A few other stragglers entered my area for safety and I was “manning the door” with yet another colleague while the others (approx. 12 people) were taking cover in the back area, out of view form the main door.

My colleague then spotted a young girl looking for cover in the hallway and ran out to help her. There was another gun shot as he got the student to the ground… he was hit in the shoulder and ran back to the print shop. I have no idea what happened to the student, I don’t know if he knows either. He will be fine, I’m no expert on bullet wounds, but it looked like it went straight through.

We then all took cover in the back area as there were a few more random gun shots heard and we can see people moving past the door, which was now closed and locked, though it’s a big glass sliding door, not a whole lot of protection, but it was all we had. We were all very unsure if it was safe or not yet to try and flee, we couldn’t see the door well enough to tell whether it was police, the gunner(s) or bystanders passing by. Finally one of the other guys with us got through to police (cellphone reception is terrible within the college) to let them know we had someone that had been shot. They confirmed that they would get to us A.S.A.P. All in all, we were holed up for the better part of an hour until an officer finally came to our door as he waited for reinforcements to arrive, which didn’t take too much longer. They asked us to get out, one by one with our hands raised as they had their guns drawn (but pointing to the ground).

As we were running through the upper atrium, toward the de Maisonneuve doors, I looked over to my left and saw a relatively long trail of blood which led to the same exit doors we were heading for. The trail looked as if is was from someone that had been dragged outside. Hopefully that person is OK. Edit: Turns out that was the shooter, Kimveer Gill‘s blood after being shot by police.

Once outside, we were told to keep to the left and to follow the wall, heading for Atwater. The colleague that got shot in the shoulder got loaded into an ambulance and presumably taken to a hospital. After hanging around on the corner of de Maisonneuve and Atwater for a short time, people that were on Atwater, in front of Alexis Nihon, started running frantically in any which way they could. It seemed as though the gunner(s) were in the Plaza, but everything calmed down momentarily, my guess is that it was a false alarm, simply people panicking.

The rest of the time, as I said, was spent consoling with friends and colleagues, answering questions and hoping my cellphone battery would have enough juice to last the rest of the day.

I’ll post more as I know more or if anything else comes to mind, I’m still sorting through todays events in my mind.

1 Comment so far

  1. Jason (unregistered) on September 13th, 2007 @ 9:40 am

    Thanks for reposting this Andre. :)

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