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Canadian shootings linked to website, videogames

The blame game

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The task of apportioning blame has begun in earnest in the wake of the Montreal college shootings as Canada and its media try to digest the incident.

Scrutiny has fallen on website vampirefreaks.com and gunman Kimveer Gill's favourite videogame Super Columbine Massacre.

Gill, 25, maintained a profile on vampirefreaks.com, a MySpace-style web community for goths. Gill's last postings, on the morning of the shootings gave no hint of the horror about to unfold. He said: "As you can tell, I got nothing of importance to write about today. Poor me...Whiskey in the morning, mmmmmm, mmmmmmmmm, good !! :)" The profile was removed early yesterday morning, though not before photographs Gill posted of himself brandishing guns hit front pages.

The site was swiftly called to defend itself in the media. In an interview with CTV, the site's owner Jethro Berelson said: "I think people on the site are generally very friendly and nice...we have 600,000 users - it's only a matter of statistics that there's going to be a couple of users that are going to commit crime."

In a message to the site's members he said: "i do think this event is a tragedy, but i feel that this site is wrongly being associated with the shooting. i'm sure this kid also had accounts on various other sites, but the media likes to associate crimes with gothic culture because it makes a better story for them. so, i just want to ask our members to really try to set a good example to the world, to show that we really are caring, responsible, non-violent people."

On his vampirefreaks.com profile, Gill wrote: "Life is like a video game, you gotta die sometime." The quote is thought to be a reference to a comment made by convicted police killer Devin Moore to arresting officers.

Gill apparently cited Super Columbine Massacre as his favourite videogame. In the downloadable game players are cast in the role of Eric Harris or Dylan Klebold, who killed 12 of their fellow students and one teacher in 1999.

Anti-videogame violence campaigner Jack Thompson quickly fired a statement to media with the subject "Jack Thompson Right Again". He said: "The massacre in Montreal is simply the latest tragedy of mass killing linked to violent virtual reality murder simulators."

Super Columbine Massacre is graphically very basic, created using a freely available toolkit in a deliberately crude retro style.

In a statement, the game's creator Danny Ledonne said: I am, like most, saddened by the news of the recent shooting at Dawson College. I extend my condolences to those affected by this painful event." He has maintained the game is an artistic attempt to help understand the mentality of the two Columbine shooters.

Kimveer Gill was not a student at Dawson College, and his motive remains obscure. He killed one woman and injured 19 before turning his gun on himself. His mother told AP: "Just ask anybody. Ask the neighbours. He was a good son." ®

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