BCSS Shooting ( Brampton Centennial Secondary School)

It was a beautiful spring morning on Wednesday, May 28th, 1975 when “it” happened just at the beginning of the first lunch period.

I was a 16 year old student in Miss Powell’s art class. I, and a few other students, were a little bit late leaving our class that morning when we heard fire crackers going off somewhere in the hall beyond our class room. None of us were too concerned about it. I was about to wander into the hall when another student bumped into me while rushing into the art room exclaiming, “ There is somebody shooting in the hallway!” or words to that effect. Little did I know at that moment the student likely saved me from being shot as her upper arm had been grazed by a bullet.

Mrs. Powell contacted the school office via the intercom advising them people were being shot. At this time the screams and students running in the hallway were very noticeable. Then Miss Powell ushered the remaining students into the wooden doored art supply closets and closed the art room door. Aside from hearing the pained moanings of nearby shooting victims, we were mostly silent.

I was petrified though. Although we could no longer hear the “firecrackers” going off, we did not know if the shooter was walking the halls or what was happening. I suppose it wasn’t really very long before we were told the shooting was over, but we had to move to the next room over, a geography classroom, accessed through a door between the two rooms, but we remained in the art room. Others recollect the police using the art room as a station of sorts.

We stayed in the room for some time. I think I was trembling by this point due to the amount of adrenalin coursing through me. We were eventually allowed to leave the building and might have been the last students to leave the school. We were told to exit through the nearest door and not return to our lockers. We were told to not look around, but a glance to the left and could see a covered body. Looking at the floor going up steps in the staircase the blood was difficult to not see. When we exited outside, there were crowds of people. I stopped after seeing the massive crowd and then started running. I ran a different way home than usual and the tears started streaming down my face.

When I arrived home I was in tears and unable to say much. My brother’s friend was even more in shock as her English teacher had died. The news had travelled fast because it wasn’t long, less than an hour, until relatives in Northern Ireland phoned our home to inquire of my brother and I, as we both were students at the school. Like many others, I was not encouraged to talk about the shootings and tried to bury it deep inside. The nightmares eventually diminished and I was faced with completely different life altering accident later that year.

The school was closed for the rest of that week but on the Monday afterwards it was back to business as usual. The bullet holes were noticeable in the bricks at the end of the hall. I may have poked my finger in some of the bullet holes as I left the classroom and realized how close I was to being shot if I had walked into the bullet barrage. The shooting happened in May and the school year finished near the end of June. I finished my year at BCSS and started at a new high school, J.A. Turner Secondary School, in September.  In later years a mural covered that wall. With an extension to the school that wall was removed for an elevator.

I read the accounts in the newspapers. Papers were saved, but silverfish ate the newsprint over the years. For many years people were quiet. Some people doubted that the shooting had even happened.