Vincent Pascale remembers the bullets whistling over his head that day two years ago when he scrambled across the Dawson College cafeteria floor to a group of students hiding under tables from gunman Kimveer Gill’s murderous rampage. “It just kicked in,” Pascale, the school’s head of security, told The Canadian Press on Tuesday. “You see the kids needed help, they were stuck under the tables. I just reacted.”
On Sept. 19, Pascale and five others will be recognized for their bravery by Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean in a ceremony at Rideau Hall.
Pascale says there were many heroes that day the lone gunman burst into the downtown college.
The school’s security chief helped save 30 people from Gill’s assault, which killed student Anastasia De Sousa and left 20 others wounded.
Pascale, school carpenter Yves Morin, and Montreal police officers Marco Barcarolo, Denis Cote and Alain Diallo will receive Medals of Bravery for their actions. Morin was shot in the shoulder when he pushed a woman to safety. Diallo, Barcarolo and Cote pinned Gill in the cafeteria, trying to keep him focused on them and not the students.
Jean will also honour Dawson student James Santos with the Star of Courage for distracting Gill and trying to convince him to surrender.
Santos held De Sousa in his arms after she had been shot several times by Gill’s semi-automatic weapon. He said he begged the shooter to let her go.
The Sept. 13, 2006 shooting rampage came to an end when Cote shot and wounded Gill, who then turned the gun on himself.
Pascale, 48, a reserve in the military police, said his training helped him get students, two of whom had been wounded, to safety.
“I just got under there and just helped with the evacuation, and I stayed on until he shot himself,” he said. “It happened so fast.”
Jean announced four Stars of Courage and 49 Medals of Bravery on Monday across the country. The Star of Courage is awarded for “acts of conspicuous courage in circumstances of great peril,” while the Medal of Honour is given for “acts bravery in hazardous circumstances.”
Pascale said he can’t wait to meet Jean, his commander-in-chief in the Canadian Forces reserves. “It’s a big honour, I’m very proud,” he said.
-with a report from CP