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September 13, 2006

Gunman Attacks Montreal College [Sobek]

I've been following the CNN headlines on this for most of the day. It's hard to offer a summary, because the details have changed every time I refresh my computer, but basically someone walked into Dawson College in downtown Montreal, started shooting, and is now dead.

None of the reports have identified the shooter. I've been especially interested in seeing some mention of the shooter's race. I wonder if his name has an "al-" in it somewhere.

Maybe, and maybe not. I have no idea. The thing that has really caught my attention here is the wide variety of details and the speed at which they have changed. It went from one to shooters, the clothing was either black or military fatigues, the number of wounded went from 12 to 20, and the shooter's death went from suicide to being gunned down by police. The most recent report says one victim was killed.

As I've watched the changing story, I've reflected on 9/11 reportage on the day of the attacks. Professional idiots like Dylan Avery exploit conflicting reports that came out almost immediately after the single worst attack on our nation since Pearl Harbor, with over 3,000 dead, four downed airliners, covering three different (non-contiguous) states. The events of that day involved re-routing Air Force one, grounding every single passenger plane near North America, a bazillion phone calls from panicked loved ones, and who knows how many reports coming in from terrified and/or confused eyewitnesses, many of whom thought the apocalypse was beginning.

The reportage on the Montreal shootings indicates just how quickly misinformation can get out, how much uncertainty can remain, and how badly the reporters can screw things up even hours after a tragedy. I'm not attacking reporters with this statement, I'm making the common sense observation that after a tragedy like this, we simply can't expect all the facts to come in, get digested and evaluated, and put into any kind of coherent story-line.

And yet Avery et al use video clips from immediately after the 9/11 attacks to make their case. Interesting.

Update: the local police are quite certain, however, that " the shootings were not hate crimes or terror-related."

Well, I guess that settles that.

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posted by Ace at 07:37 PM

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