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The last day of class before final exams. A bustling university building filled with holiday decorations and serious students chasing those elusive engineering degrees.

Abruptly, a man enters the modern, six-story school structure, ammunition belts criss-crossing his chest, a semiautomatic assault rifle in his hands.Shots, screams echo through the halls. For a second, Jean-Robert Cadieux thinks it is only a pre-exam prank.

"One of my friends said, `If it's a gag, it's a good one. There's a bloody corpse by the photocopy machine,' " said the 23-year-old student.

By the time the unidentified gunman was through stalking the classrooms and corridors Wednesday of the engineering school at the University of Montreal, 14 women were dead, nine women and four men were wounded.

The gunman, a brown-haired, blue-eyed man clad in blue jeans, work boots and a green-and-black sweater, killed himself on the third floor of the building.

Pierre Leclair, the Montreal police's head of public relations, arrived to find his daughter, Maryse, dead on the floor.

In the aftermath, police said the killer had claimed that feminists "spoiled my life."

The killer, clutching a semiautomatic rifle and wearing ammunition belts across his chest, stalked five floors in the six-story school building Wednesday and at one point ordered all the men out of a crowded classroom, police said.

"You're all a bunch of feminists," he screamed before opening fire on the cowering, terrified young women who remained.

"I heard the gunman say: `I want the women,' " said student Francois Bordeleau. "It was a human hunt."

The killer, in his mid-20s, left a three-page letter that spewed hatred for women.

The handwritten letter, signed only "Marc," blamed failures in the gunman's life on unidentified women and said he was going to kill some women in revenge.

Frantic parents rushed to the school as pandemonium erupted. Stunned students walked trancelike on the snow-covered campus of the sprawling university that rests on a hill overlooking the city.

"I saw death close up and I shook," said Vanthona Ouy, 22, one of scores of horrified students who streamed out of the building after the carnage. "Our friends have been killed."

"It was just like Rambo," said student Robert Leclerc. "He had at least two ammunition belts across his chest."

Roger Tiffault, 23, a student, said the gunman walked into a third-floor classroom and said, "Everybody out!" When no one left, the gunman began shooting.

The gunman entered a cafeteria first, killing three women, then moved up to a second-floor classroom, where he ordered the men out and fired on a group of frightened young women, killing six.

"He came in quietly," said student Eric Chavarie, who was ordered out of the classroom. "And he told us to stop what we were doing. Everyone thought it was a joke.

"He was smiling at us. He was very calm."

No one moved, Chavarie said. "Then he fired a shot."

Lucien Justin, who was in the computer room, said the assailant first aimed at the wall there and then ran out. "Somebody locked the door but he shot off the lock and then left a second time," he said.

Distraught, horrified parents frantically sought information about their children.