It was December 6 1989 at the Ecole Polytechnique (Polytechnical School, an engineering school affiliated with the University of Montreal, and classes were in session as usual. Sometime in the afternoon, 25-year-old Mark Lepine, born Gamil Rodrigue Liass Gharbi, entered the school carrying a Ruger mini .14 semi-automatic rifle. He walked purposely along the hallway until he reached a classroom filled with 60 people, and the moment of reckoning began. “He was walking slowly, very calmly. He was pointing at every women. He shot about 12 times,” a male student told a reporter. It was a planned, deliberate attack. Brandishing a rifle, Lepine separated the men from the women and sent the men outside the building.
Lepine yelled “I want women!” and “You’re all a bunch of fucking feminists!” then shot and killed 14 women, all of whom were engineering students. Lepine also shot and wounded 12 women and men on two different floors in the building. Finally, amidst the carnage, Lepine turned the gun on himself and shot himself dead. In his suicide letter, Lepine noted that he had been found to be “anti-social.” In 1982 when Lepine was 18, the family moved to Saint-Laurent, to be closer to his mother’s work. This was the beginning of the seven years which he described in his suicide note as having “brought [him] no joy“. In his suicide letter, Lépine also claimed he had political motives for the killings, and he blamed feminists for ruining his life. Gloria Steinem would not approve. This is a copy of Lepine’s suicide note:
Would you note that if I commit suicide today 89-12-06 it is not for economic reasons (for I have waited until I exhausted all my financial means, even refusing jobs) but for political reasons. Because I have decided to send the feminists, who have always ruined my life, to their Maker. For seven years life has brought me no joy and being totally blasé, I have decided to put an end to those viragos.
I tried in my youth to enter the Forces as an officer cadet which would have allowed me possibly to get into the arsenal and precede Lortie in a raid. They refused me because asocial [sic]. I therefore had to wait until this day to execute my plans. In between, I continued my studies in a haphazard way for they never really interested me, knowing in advance my fate. Which did not prevent me from obtaining very good marks despite my theory of not handing in work and the lack of studying before exams.
Even if the Mad Killer epithet will be attributed to me by the media, I consider myself a rational erudite that only the arrival of the Grim Reaper has forced to take extreme acts. For why persevere to exist if it is only to please the government. Being rather backward-looking by nature (except for science), the feminists have always enraged me. They want to keep the advantages of women (e.g. cheaper insurance, extended maternity leave preceded by a preventative leave, etc.) while seizing for themselves those of men.
Thus it is an obvious truth that if the Olympic Games removed the Men-Women distinction, there would be Women only in the graceful events. So the feminists are not fighting to remove that barrier. They are so opportunistic they [do not] neglect to profit from the knowledge accumulated by men through the ages. They always try to misrepresent them every time they can. Thus, the other day, I heard they were honoring the Canadian men and women who fought at the frontline during the world wars. How can you explain [that since] women were not authorized to go to the frontline??? Will we hear of Caesar’s female legions and female galley slaves who of course took up 50% of the ranks of history, though they never existed. A real Casus Belli.
Sorry for this too brief letter.
Actually the three paragraph letter is very long for a suicide note. Most suicides don’t leave a note and the few who do tend to make them a lot “briefer” than Lepine’s.
Lépine was born in Montreal. His mother, Monique Lepine, was a Canadian nurse and his father was an Algerian businessman named Rachid Liass Gharbi . The family was unstable. Gharbi was on business in the Caribbean when Lepine was born. During his absence, Monique discovered that her husband had been having an affair. His father was abusive towards his family. Gharbi was an authoritarian, a possessive and jealous man, and violent towards his wife and his children. He made it known to his children and his wife that women were inferior and meant to offer servitude to men. He required his wife to act as his personal secretary, slapping her if she made any errors in typing, and forcing her to retype documents, even while their toddler cried. He was neglectful and abusive towards his children, particularly Marc. In 1970, Gharbi struck his son so hard that the marks on his face were visible a week later. Finally, Monique decided to leave her violent husband. Lépine was afraid of his father, and at first saw him only on supervised visits. After the divorce was finalized, Gharbi never visited his children again. Lepine eventually changed his name to Marc Lépine at the age of 14, stating he it was because he hated his father. It was in this unhealthy household that a killer was formed.
Monique decided to take nursing courses in order to further her career. As a result, her children were sent elsewhere to live during the week, seeing Monique only on weekends. This instability continued for a number of years. Concerned about her children and her own parenting skills, Monique sought help for the family from a psychiatrist. The assessment stated there was nothing wrong with the shy and withdrawn Lépine, but ironically recommended therapy for his sister Nadia, who was challenging Monique’s authority. When he was 12, Lépine attended junior high and high school, where he was a quiet student who obtained average to above average marks. He developed a close friendship with another boy, but he did not fit in with other students. He developed an interest in World War II. and a keen admiration of Adolf Hitler. Wonderful role model.
Lépine was uncommunicative and showed little emotion. He suffered from low self-esteem, which wasn’t made any better by his chronic acne. Nadia publicly humiliated him about his acne and his lack of girlfriends. He fantasized about her death, and on one occasion made a mock grave for her. Lepine was thrilled when in 1981 Nadia was placed in a group home because of her delinquent behaviour and drug abuse. There was no love lost between brother and sister. Gharbi’s abusive nature had visited itself upon his children.
Lepine wasn’t a student at the polytechnical school at the time of the killings. In 1982 he began a science program at a college, but in 1986, he dropped out of the course in his final term. Things didn’t get any better for Lepine. He was seen as nervous, hyperactive, and immature by his work colleagues. He was fired from his job at a hospital where his mother was the Director of Nursing, due to his poor attitude, as well as disrespect toward superiors, and carelessness in his work. He was enraged, and Lepine described a plan to commit a murderous rampage and then commit suicide. His friends noted that he was unpredictable, flying into rages when frustrated. He began a computer programming course in 1988, and abandoned it before graduation. There had been an unexplained drop in his marks in the fall 1985 term, and in February 1986, during the last term of the program, he suddenly stopped attending classes, as a result failing to complete his diploma. Lépine twice applied for admission to the École Polytechnique, but on condition that he complete two required compulsory courses. Lepine didn’t complete the courses and he dropped out.
Lepine was a loner with few friends and inadequate with women. He was unable to strike up a conversation with them. He had no dates while at the school and no girlfriend. He tended to boss women around and show off his knowledge in front of them. He was bitter about his lack of social network and he blamed it on women. Lepine believed he faced constant rejection from women because they were “feminists”. He complained about women who worked in non-traditional jobs. Echoing his father, he spoke about his dislike of feminists, career women and women in traditionally male occupations, such as the police force. He often stated that women should remain in the home, caring for their families. In April 1989 he met with a university admissions officer, and complained about how women were taking over the job market from men. I don’t know what the officer’s response was but I like to think he didn’t agree. Lepine’s life was a continual series of rejections and failures.
Years later, Lepine’s mother, Monique Lepine, displayed the very behavior Lepine loathed in women when he wrote in his suicide note: [women] are so opportunistic they [do not] neglect to profit from the knowledge accumulated by men through the ages. Monique managed to profit off the massacre. She published a book called Aftermath, that documented her life before and after her son’s crime. Monique, a nurse of all things, remembered that the day her son killed the 14 female victims of the massacre she heard the news when she arrived home from work. She watched a brief newscast that detailed the massacre but since Lepine’s identity wasn’t released so Monique had no idea her son was the killer. She attended an evening prayer group and asked her friends to”pray for the mother of this young man.”
It wasn’t until the following day at work that she discovered her son had killed the 14 young women. “From there my life was ??” I can only imagine how the mothers of the 14 dead women felt about their lives. Nadia was also aghast to discover the killer’s identity and while her friends talked about the massacre in class, “she didn’t dare say anything“. I find it remarkable that she was able to attend class. Seven years later, Nadia committed suicide by drug overdose.
Monique recalled a conversation she had with her son days before the massacre. She asked him the usual college questions about his courses and how he was feeling. He said nothing unusual but she “thought he was strange but I didn’t know what was going on.” Four days before the shooting, he brought his mother a present, though it was several weeks before her birthday. She didn’t question the unusual timing of his gift. An overriding theme in her book is the guilt Lepine, now 70, feels for what happened, and her tendency to blame herself for what he did. Lepine wrote she knew her son was having difficulties, and she tried to get him the help he needed, but that he refused to accept it.
“Over the years I have struggled to understand what could have led Marc to commit such a monstrous act towards those young women. Perhaps he compared them to me because they had chosen to make their way in a decidedly male world just as I had done. Although he never said so, I am certain Marc was angry with me for the way I lived my life.”
After his suicide, Lepine’s actions were examined by forensic psychiatrists who attributed the killings to a possible personality disorder, psychosis, or attachment disorder. Sociologists claimed he may have suffered from isolation and was influenced by his own poverty and violence in the media. Yep. Blame it on TV. Sociologists. Pah. The event has been described as a “pseudo-community” type of “pseudo-commando” murder-suicide, in which the perpetrator targets a specific group, usually in a public place and intending to die in “a blaze of glory“. I don’t know about the glory part, but I agree with the blaze. A police psychiatrist noted “extreme narcissistic vulnerability” demonstrated by fantasies of power and success combined with high levels of self-criticism and difficulties dealing with rejection and failure. He attempted to compensate for his feelings of powerlessness and incompetence by a violent and grandiose imaginary life.
Other theories were that Lépine’s experiences of abuse as a child had caused brain-damage or led him to feel victimized as he faced losses and rejections in his later life. Monique wondered whether Lépine viewed her as a feminist, and thought the massacre might have been an unconscious attempt to get revenge for her neglect while she pursued her career, and for his sister’s taunts. Whatever Lepine’s state of mind when he killed the young women at Ecole Polytechnique, The Montreal Massacre, as it will be forever known by Canadians, is regarded as a hate crime against women.