The gunman who went on a rampage at Montreal's Dawson College on Wednesday, killing one woman and leading to the injury of 20 other people, was briefly a member of the Canadian Forces.
Kimveer Gill did basic training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean, Que., from Jan. 17 to Feb. 16, 1999.
"We can confirm that the perpetrator served for a one-month period," John Knoff, a spokesman for National Defence, said last night.
He stressed, however, that Mr. Gill did not get any weapons training, nor did he do anything but rudimentary basic training, which is largely physical exercise and disciplinary training.
"He did not complete his basic training," Mr. Knoff said. The spokesman said he did not know the circumstances of Mr. Gill's premature departure.
Friends said that, even in high school, Mr. Gill spoke of joining the Armed Forces, in large part because of his fascination with guns.
Jaspal Brar, a close family friend, said Mr. Gill's family knew about his interest in guns, but regarded it as a hobby. The weapons used in the rampage were all legally registered, and signatures from close family members were required to get permits.
Mrs. Brar insisted that the killer never showed any outward signs of violence or anger, and there was no inkling of the violent, hateful outburst that culminated in Mr. Gill's suicide.
"He was a good kid - he never fought or anything," she said in an interview.
"I saw him grow up. He was always friendly with us. I never saw a change in him."
Mrs. Brar said the family is devastated by what has happened. "They're a normal family. Now they're looking for an answer: What went wrong?"
Mr. Gill, 25, whose nihilistic rantings and gun-worshipping photos on a blog have now been widely publicized, appears to have shielded his sordid obsessions from his parents.
Parvinder Sandhu, his mother, told Radio-Canada television that she knew nothing about his hate-filled postings on the Web.
She said she was deeply shaken by the attacks and expressed sorrow to the families of her son's victims. She told Radio-Canada her son had shown no warning signs before his shooting rampage, although he had become perceptibly sadder in the days before the attack.
New evidence is emerging that suggests Mr. Gill had plotted his attack for a considerable time.
The TVA network reported last night that security cameras inside the Alexis Nihon Plaza, the shopping mall across the street from Dawson College, captured Mr. Gill on videotape as far back as Aug. 10, presumably staking out the area. The report also revealed that police found a note on Mr. Gill's body that said he was targeting the junior college, but not offering any motive.
One of the most puzzling aspects of the crime is why the gunman went to the downtown Montreal school. There is no evidence he had any link to the institution.
Another revelation yesterday was that Mr. Gill took a hostage on the sidewalk shortly after arriving at the scene. The man, a lawyer, was forced to carry a bag containing the killer's shotgun and ammunition. (Mr. Gill himself carried a .45 calibre pistol and a 9 mm semi-automatic rifle.)
The lawyer, according to a broadcast report, ducked behind a car when shooting began, and kept the bag with him.
Mr. Gill's first shots were actually fired at two police officers who happened to be at the school investigating a minor crime. Those shots hit two passers-by, and prompted the officers to confront the killer almost immediately, which likely prevented many more deaths.
Mr. Gill proceeded into Dawson College, where he shot a number of students and staff members and engaged in a gun battle with police. He used at least two other hostages as human shields during the shooting rampage.
According to published reports, police fired only six shots, fearing that ricocheting bullets would hit students. Mr. Gill fired dozens of shots; the gunman fired his last bullet into his own head, committing suicide.
Police later discovered more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition in the killer's car.
One young woman, 18-year-old Anastasia De Sousa, died during the rampage. The results of the autopsy conducted on the young woman, made public yesterday, showed she was shot nine times at close range. All her major organs were damaged, meaning she had no chance of survival.