On December 6th, 1989, the Ecole Polytechnique engineering school in Montreal would – unbeknownst to everyone in the building – become the backdrop for one of the worst mass murder incidents in Canadian history. 14 women were shot and killed at the hands of a shooter named Marc Lepine, and 13 others were gravely wounded in the process (Maser, 1987). No outright reason was apparent other than the letters left on his suicide note, but it marked a troubled life that began from his troubled childhood. Factors that may have led up to this incident needs to be examined in further detail, using a psychological explanation and a criminological theory. This paper will use the social learning theory to analyze the behaviours that led up to this event, as well as the general strain theory to determine why he committed the crime.
It has been made clear through police investigations, that this killing spree was premeditated and carefully planned out by Marc Lepine long before it was carried out. He had purchased a lightweight rifle from a store and claimed that it was for hunting purposes (Maser, 1987). It was the last day of the fall semester and most students were looking forward to the Christmas break, unsuspecting of what was about to transpire. Marc walked into the school and sat near the registry office for a while before moving on to a classroom on the second floor. He walked in and divided the students according to their gender, then ordered the men to leave the room. Most students thought it was a prank initially, until he fired his gun and repeated his order in a more authoritative manner. He proceeded to shoot the women left behind as he declared his hatred for feminists, despite protests from the students (Maser, 1987). He continued to move through the corridors of the school, shooting any female students in his sight or anyone that tried to stop him. Eventually, he ended his rampage in a third floor lecture hall where he shot and wounded several more people before ending his own life. Suicide notes found on him revealed that his motives were based on his hatred for feminists, stating that they have “ruined his life”. It also revealed a hit list containing 15 public figures, probably found through news media sources, but stated that he was unable to act upon it. Instead, all his victims turned out to be strangers that were unfortunate enough to be caught in the killing spree (Maser, 1987).
Details about Marc Lepine and his life began to surface after the initial incident, uncovering an unpleasant childhood and a broken home. Born with the name of Gamil Gharbi, he had an Algerian father and a mother of French descent. The father was a relatively successful businessman that did most of his work overseas; the mother, Monique, was a nurse with a good family background (Weston & Aubrey, 1990). The family was well off due to their career success, but what looked like a perfect marriage on paper was horrific for...