Concordia University massacre

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Concordia University massacre
Location Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Date August 24, 1992 (UTC-4)
Target Concordia University
Attack type
school shooting, massacre
Weapons
Deaths 4
Non-fatal injuries
1
Perpetrator Valery Fabrikant
Motive extreme misplaced hostility

The Concordia University massacre was a school shooting on August 24, 1992 in which Dr. Valery I. Fabrikant, an associate professor of mechanical engineering, killed four colleagues and wounded a staff member at Concordia University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. He was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.

Overview[edit]

Dr. Valery Fabrikant was a mechanical engineering associate professor who had worked at Concordia University for 13 years. He had begun as a technician, and long demonstrated disruptive behaviour against students, staff members and other academics, described as ranging from "undesirable to intolerable", which the university had struggled to deal with. In addition he had presented academic challenges in teaching and supervision. As early as 1989, he had begun to talk about shootings as a way to solve problems.[1]

Relations between Dr. Fabrikant and the University became increasingly strained in late 1991 and the spring of 1992. Colleagues became alarmed after he turned his aggression against them. After being denied tenure, Fabrikant charged members of the engineering department with questionable financial dealings and improper credit for research work. Because of much unacceptable behaviour in addition to the charges, he faced university dismissal on grounds of intimidation and harassment of fellow staff members. He was also under a contempt of court charge for behaviour in a lawsuit against colleagues regarding credit on professional articles.

On August 24, Fabrikant entered the Engineering department at Concordia with three guns and ammunition in his briefcase, in planned revenge. In his shooting rampage on the ninth floor of the Henry F. Hall building, he killed Departmental Chair Phoivos Ziogas and professors Matthew Douglass, Michael Hogben, and Aaron Jaan Saber. Fabrikant wounded Elizabeth Horwood, a departmental staff secretary. None of the victims were personally involved in the controversy, which Fabrikant had started.

Fabrikant was charged with murder and assault, convicted and sentenced to life in prison. He will be eligible for parole in 2017.

Events[edit]

Around 2:30 p.m. on Monday, August 24, 1992, Fabrikant walked onto the ninth floor of the Henry F. Hall Building. He was carrying a briefcase that contained three handguns (a Snub nosed Smith & Wesson .38-calibre 5-shot Revolver, a German-made 6.35mm Meb Pistol with a 6-round magazine, and an Argentinian-made 7.65mm Bersa pistol with an 8-round magazine) and a large amount of ammunition.

First he went looking for Dean Srikanta Swamy and Sam Osman (the chair of the mechanical-engineering department). Neither was in. He next headed to his own office where he was scheduled to meet Michael Hogben, the president of the Concordia University Faculty Association (CUFA). According to police, Hogben attempted to give Fabrikant a letter setting out the conditions under which he would be allowed to visit the CUFA offices. The letter noted Fabrikant's access would be restricted because his behaviour was causing those who worked there "considerable distress". Fabrikant took out his .38 calibre pistol and shot Hogben three times. Hogben fell to the floor and died shortly thereafter.

A faculty colleague, Jaan Saber, called out from his office nearby. Fabrikant crossed the hall and fired two shots into Saber, who died in hospital the next day. Back in the hall, heading back to Osman's office again, he fired at Elizabeth Horwood, wounding her in the thigh. Fabrikant worked his way through the ninth floor corridors to the other side of the building and into the office of Phoivos Ziogas (chair of the electrical and computer-engineering department), who was talking with colleague Otto Schwelb. Fabrikant shot Ziogas twice; he died in hospital a month later. He scuffled with Schwelb, who took control of the pistol. Unaware that Fabrikant had two other guns in his briefcase, Schwelb went back to tend the injured Ziogas.

Matthew Douglass (a professor of civil engineering known to be close to Dean Swamy), tried to reason with Fabrikant when he arrived at the dean's office. Fabrikant shot him four times, and Douglass died almost instantly.

Fabrikant took a security guard and another professor (Dr. George Abdou) hostage, locked himself in an office, and called an emergency operator. He said he had just "made several murders" and wanted to talk to a TV reporter. He stayed on the line for an hour. When he briefly put his gun down to adjust the phone, Abdou kicked it away and the security guard overpowered him.[2]

Aftermath[edit]

The university commissioned two Independent Committees of Inquiry to investigate aspects of the August events. In addition it established task forces to work on internal policy and procedures. In April 1994 the Independent Committee of Inquiry into Academic and Scientific Integrity, headed by H.W. Arthurs, former president of York University, presented their report, entitled Integrity in Scholarship (informally known as the Arthurs Report). It noted issues at Concordia and other production-driven research institutions. It stated that "We have confirmed the validity of a number of Dr. Fabrikant's more specific allegations" about financial mismanagement and questions about scholarship practices, such as article attribution. The report noted that Fabrikant's allegations were not motivated by concern for the public good, however. Instead, they were the "ultimate revenge" of a desperate man who had already tried blackmail and threats against officials.[3]

An independent review was conducted by John Scott Cowan, former faculty association president and former vice-president (administration) of the University of Ottawa, who was commissioned to study Fabrikant's employment history and related human resource issues at Concordia University. He documented years of behavioural problems by Fabrikant. In addition, he identified problems common to university environments, where disruptive behaviour has sometimes been excused under the mantle of academic freedom and because many academics have little experience as managers. He noted that often academic administrators were not comfortable as managers and needed additional training. He reported in May 1994 on Lessons from the Fabrikant File (also known as the Cowan Report.) His report included recommendations for how the university could improve its internal communication and management of academics and departments.[1]

In their investigation of academic credentials, a journalist team from the Montreal Gazette discovered that Dr. Fabrikant was not a political dissident as he had claimed. Instead, he had emigrated from the USSR after having been fired from a succession of posts for his threatening and disruptive behaviour.

As a result, Concordia University made a number of changes to its ethics rules and administrative procedures to improve operations, the integrity of scholarship, and management of faculty and staff. In addition, it established conflict resolution workshops and resources.

Fabrikant is serving his sentence at Archambault Prison in Sainte-Anne-Des-Plaines, Quebec. He is eligible for parole on August 24, 2017.

Legacy[edit]

  • Four large granite study tables were placed in the foyer of the Hall Building as a memorial to the slain professors. A nearby wall plaque commemorates the event.
  • Concordia's Board of Governors had earlier adopted a policy banning firearms on the university campus. After Fabrikant's murders, the university joined the Coalition for Gun Control and gathered signatures for a petition calling for tougher national gun laws. In March 1994 Concordia representatives presented members of Parliament with a 200,000-signature petition to ban the private ownership of handguns in Canada.[4]
  • In addition, the university adopted new rules governing financial accountability and scientific integrity, improvements in process at the time of the August 1992 events. The Internal Audit function was also restructured.[5]
  • In 1995 the university adopted "The Code of Rights & Responsibilities" and named an Advisor on the Code. It set out standards of conduct for all members of the University. Further work was done on a new code of ethics, resulting in a partial version of "The Code of Ethics: Guidelines for Ethical Actions" being adopted in 1995. The full version was adopted in 1997.[4]
  • The university created initiatives related to civil behaviour and conflict resolution, including the Peace and Conflict Resolution Series that began in 2003.[4]
  • Morris Wolfe's 2002 article on the events won a Canadian Association of Journalists Award for Investigative Journalism.[2]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b John Scott Cowan, Lessons from the Fabrikant File: A Report to the Board of Governors of Concordia University, May 1994, Concordia University Records Management and Archives, accessed 4 April 2012
  2. ^ a b Morris Wolfe (2002). "Dr Fabrikant's Solution". Retrieved 2007-04-21. 
  3. ^ H.W. Arthurs, Chair; Roger A. Blais, and Jon Thompson, Integrity in Scholarship: A Report to Concordia University, April 1994, Concordia University Records Management and Archives, accessed 4 April 2012
  4. ^ a b c "The Fabrikant Affair", 24 August 1992, Concordia University Records Management and Archives, accessed 4 April 2012
  5. ^ "The Fabrikant Affair", 24 August 1992, Concordia University Archives, accessed 4 April 2012

External links[edit]