Eric Harris, left, and Dyland Klebold, right, in the infamous
Columbine High School cafeteria surveillance video



"If the tale that is unfolding were not so monstrous, aspects of it would break the heart."

- Jean Stafford




Littleton, Colorado was a Midwestern city that went relatively unheard of until April 20 of 1999. It was on that Tuesday morning that Littleton became the site of the worst school shooting in American history, and for that the city has achieved notoriety.

The two people who engineered their hometown's infamy were Dylan Klebold, 17, and Eric Harris, 18. They are perhaps two of the most talked about teenagers in recent history, their names and faces stamped in the annals of American crime forever.

What made these two young men, who seemed to have no outwardly threatening, overtly violent tendencies, arm themselves to the teeth and blow away twelve classmates and a teacher, before each taking a bullet themselves? To understand what went on before the Columbine High School shooting, we must look at what went on that Tuesday - and what went on before.



TIMELINE

Law enforcement personnel mark the location of evidence outside Columbine high school.

"I'm never going to get rid of the sights and sounds that were there."

- Denver SWAT Team Member Vince DiManna



"You all better hide in your houses because I'm coming for EVERYONE soon, and i WILL be armed to the teeth and i WILL shoot to kill and i WILL KILL EVERYTHING!"

- Eric Harris, Journal Entry


The Following Are Sections of the Jefferson County, CO Report on the Columbine High School Shootings. All times are A.M. unless otherwise noted. Any notations I have made are in italics. Photographs from the day of the shooting have been places throughout the timeline at my discretion.



April 17, 1999

Columbine High School's prom takes place on the night of April 17th. Someone has scratched out the date 'April 17' on several prom posters at the school and written in its place, 'April 20 - It's coming.'

April 20, 1999
Approximately 9:00

The school's daily announcements begin on classroom televisions, courtesy of the school's Rebel News Network. A message scrolls across the bottom of the screen saying, "Today is not a good day to be here."

11:10

Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold arrive seperately at the school, driving their own cars. They park near the cafeteria and the entrances and exits into the school's lower floors. Eric Harris tells a student they see outside to leave, because he "likes him". Shortly afterward, a witness sees the same student, [later identified as Harris' friend Brooks Brown] walking away from the school.

11:14

Harris and Klebold leave their cars, carrying several CO2 bombs, one semi-automatic 9mm handgun, a 9mm carbine rifle, a sawed-off twelve gauge shotgun, and a sawed-off twelve gauge pump shotgun. They also carry two duffel bags, each containing one twenty-pound propane bomb. The timers on the bombs are set to go off at 11:17 a.m. This is enough explosives to kill nearly all 500 students in the cafeteria. In his journal, Harris writes down the number of students who are in the cafeteria at certain times. They have arrived at the school during the busiest lunch hour. The set the bags down beside a table and leave the cafeteria. The school custodian also changes the cafeteria surveillance tape at this time.

11:17

Klebold and Harris wait outside in the parking lot for the bombs to go off. In homemade videotapes outlining their method of attack, the boys planned to shoot any student who escaped the cafeteria following the explosion. In the boys' cars bombs are set to explode once they are back inside the school.

11:19

The Jefferson County, Colorado Sheriff's department receives the first of several 911 calls. The caller reports an explosion in a field three miles southwest of Columbine High School. Although two backpacks concealing pipe bombs, aerosol cans, and propane tanks were placed in the field, only one detonates. These bombs were used by Klebold and Harris as a diversionary tactic.

11:19 – 11:23

Witnesses identify Harris and Klebold standing at the top of the school's west exterior steps, dressed in black trench coats and carryings backpacks and duffel bags. From where they are standing, the two can see the school's west side, southwest parking lot, cafeteria exits and entrances, and the athletic field. At about this same time, one of the suspects shouts, "Go!" Klebold and Harris pull their shotguns from the bags, (the 9mm are hidden beneath their coats on shoulder straps.) They begin shooting at students in the area. This is the first time either of the boys has fired their weapons.
Rachel Scott is killed and Richard Castaldo wounded as they sit outside on the grass eating lunch. Daniel Rohrbough, Sean Graves, and Lance Kirklin have just stepped outside a cafeteria side door when they are shot. Five students sitting outside are also shot. One of them, Michael Johnson, hides with three others in a nearby storage shed. Mark Taylor is injured so badly he cannot move. Klebold heads down the stairs to just outside the cafeteria, where Daniel Rohrbough is lying on the ground. He shoots Rohrbough a second time at point blank range, killing him instantly.



The body of Daniel Rohrbough outside the cafeteria.



Lance Kirklin is also shot a second time, but survives. Klebold leans in the doorway of the cafeteria, but then joins Harris at the top of the outside stairs. Harris then shoots down the steps, hitting Anne Marie Hochhalter several times as she tries to run for the cafeteria. At this time, witnesses report on the gunmen say, "This is what we always wanted to do! This is awesome!"
During the shooting outside, both Klebold and Harris are seen lighting and throwing bombs onto the roof, into the parking lot, and down the hillside outside the school.

11:21

Deputy Paul Magor of the Jefferson County Sheriff's department is dispatched the to scene of the fire and explosion in the field.

11:22

The school custodian pushes the 'record' button on the surveillance camera's VCR, unwittingly recording part of the nation's worst school shooting. Also at this time, the school's resource officer, Jefferson County Sheriff's Deputy Neil Gardner, is called to the back lot of the school. The following video contains portions of various 911 calls, including those of teacher Patti Nielsen and Eric Harris's father.



11:23

A 911 call comes in from a Columbine High School student. The calls reports an injured girl in the south parking lot, and tell the dispatcher, "I think she's paralyzed." Also at this time, the deputy dispatched to the scene of the field explosion is advised of a 'female down' in the south parking lot of Columbine High. The school's officer, Deputy Gardner, also hears this call and heads to the scene, lights flashing and siren wailing.



An unidentified victim is treated by paramedics outside the school.



11:24

Several members of the school's custodial staff and faculty, including teacher William Sanders, try to find out what is happening outside the cafeteria. Once inside the cafeteria, Sanders and custodians Jon Curtis and Jay Gallantine tell students to hide underneath the tables.
While in the midst of writing a speeding ticket, motorcycle patrolman Paul Smoker hears the report of a 'female down' at the school. He radios dispatch that he is responding to the call.

Teacher Patricia (Patti) Nielson is working as a hall monitor when she hears a commotion outside the west entrance of the school. She looks outside, seeing two male students with what she thinks are toy guns, and assumes that a school video production is being taped. She is on her way outside to tell the boys to “knock it off” when one of the gunmen fires into the west entrance, causing glass and metal fragments to spray into the hallway. Nielson suffers abrasions to her shoulder, forearm and knee from the fragments.

Beside Nielson is student Brian Anderson. Brian had been told by a teacher to get out of the school because of the explosions and commotion. Not realizing where the danger is, he exits through the first set of west doors, and is caught between the interior and exterior doors when Harris fires at the doors in front of him, shattering the glass. Brian suffers wounds to his chest from the flying glass fragments.

Despite their injuries, Patti Nielson and Brian are able to flee into the school library while Harris and Klebold are distracted by the arrival of Deputy Gardner. Gardner has just pulled up in the lower south parking lot of the school with the lights on his patrol car flashing and the siren sounding.

As Gardner steps out of his patrol car, Eric Harris turns his attention from shooting into the west doors of the high school to the student parking lot and to the deputy. Gardner, particularly visible in the bright yellow shirt of the community resource officer’s uniform, is the target of Harris’ bullets. Harris fires about 10 shots at the deputy with his rifle before his weapon jams.

Gardner fires four shots at Harris.

Harris spins hard to his right and Gardner momentarily thinks he has hit him. Seconds later, Harris begins shooting again at the deputy. Although Gardner’s patrol car is not hit by bullets, two vehicles that he is parked behind are hit by Harris’ gunfire. Investigators later found two bullet holes in each of the cars.

Harris then turns and enters the school through the west doors.

Students in the cafeteria realize the activity occurring outside is more serious than a senior prank. A mass exodus of students is seen on the school’s surveillance videotape as students escape up the stairs from the cafeteria to the second level. Several students recalled Sanders directing them to safety by telling them to go down the hallway to the east side exits of the school.



Students fleeing from the east exits of the school



11:25

Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office dispatch advises that there are possible shots fired at Columbine High School. “Attention, south units. Possible shots fired at Columbine High School, 6201 S. Pierce, possibly in the south lower lot towards the east end. One female is down.”

Teacher Patti Nielson, hiding under the front counter in the school library, calls 911 to report shots being fired outside the library.

11:26 The Hallway

Littleton Fire Department dispatches a fire engine to the explosion and grass fire on Wadsworth.

After exchanging gunfire with Harris, Gardner calls on his police radio for additional units. “Shots in the building. I need someone in the south lot with me.”

Dispatch reports several shots fired at Columbine High School.

Teacher’s 911 call from inside the library reports smoke coming in through the doorway. She yells at students to get on the floor and under the tables.

Jefferson County Deputies Scott Taborsky and Paul Smoker arrive on the west side of the school and begin the rescue of two wounded students lying on the ground near the ballfields.



Injured students being treated outside the school.



Smoker sees Gardner down the hill to his right, holding a service pistol. Gardner yells to Smoker as a gunman, carrying a semi-automatic rifle, appears on the inside of the double doors.

Harris, leaning out of a broken window on the set of double doors into the school, begins shooting a rifle. Smoker fires three rounds at him and the gunman disappears from the window. Smoker continues to hear gunfire from inside the building as more students flee from the school.

Student witnesses who entered the north main hallway from adjoining classrooms see Klebold and Harris standing just inside the school’s northwest entry doors. Both suspects, they later recalled, are armed with guns. Witnesses see Klebold fire a semi-automatic weapon east towards the students in the main hallway and south down the library hallway. They also hear bullets hitting lockers and other objects in the hallway as students run for cover.

A student in the gym hallway observes Klebold and Harris walking east down the north hallway. Both are firing weapons … and both are laughing.

Student Stephanie Munson and another student walk out of a classroom into the school’s north main hallway. As they enter the hallway, they see a teacher and several students running behind them. The teacher yells for the students to “Run! Get out of the building!” They both run through the main hallway leading to the school’s main entrance on the east side. Stephanie is shot in the ankle but both are able to escape the building and continue across the street to safety at Leawood Park.

A student in the counseling hallway sees students in the north hallway running east through the lobby. Klebold is running behind them, but comes to an abrupt halt near a bank of phones at the entrance to the main lobby area.

Yet another student, on the telephone with her mother, glances up in time to see the sleeve of a black trench coat shooting a TEC-9 towards the main entrance of the school. She drops the phone and hides in a nearby restroom until she can no longer hear any activity in the hallway. The gunman, she assumes, has turned around and gone back the other way. She goes back to the phone and whispers to her mother to come pick her up and then escapes through the east doors to the outside. Her mother’s cell phone bill shows this call is made between 11:23 and 11:26 and lasts 3.8 minutes. The student estimates that she talks to her mother about two minutes before she sees the gunman.

Klebold is last seen running back down the north hall to the west in the direction of the library hallway.

Teacher Dave Sanders, still on the second level, turns into the library hallway toward the west entrance and the sounds of gunfire. As Sanders passes the entrance to the library, he apparently sees a gunman coming toward him from the north hallway. Sanders turns around and heads back the way he had just come. Just before turning the corner to go east, he is shot. Sanders is able to crawl to the corner of the Science hallway where teacher Richard Long helps him down the hallway into classroom SCI-3. A group of students, including two Eagle Scouts, Aaron Hancey and Kevin Starkey, gather around him, attending to his injuries and administering first aid.

11:27

Deputy Gardner, who is in the south parking lot and has exchanged gunfire with Eric Harris, radios dispatch with a “Code 33.” Code 33 means “officer needs emergency assistance.”

Deputy Magor sets up a road block on Pierce Street at the southeast corner of the student parking lot. He immediately is approached by a teacher as well as students reporting a person in the school with a gun.

Dispatch announces that possible hand-grenades have been detonated at the school.

Harris and Klebold walk up and down the library hallway, randomly shooting but not injuring anyone. Investigators later scrutinized Nielson’s 911 call made from the school’s library. From the tape, the investigation shows that Harris and Klebold spend almost three minutes in the library hallway randomly shooting their weapons and lighting and throwing pipe bombs. They throw two pipe bombs in the hallway and more over the stairway railing to the lower level.

A pipe bomb is thrown into the stairwell from the library hallway and lands in the cafeteria below. A large flash is observed on the cafeteria videotape. A second pipe bomb also is thrown into the cafeteria from the upper level.

Teacher Patti Nielson, hiding under the front counter just inside the library entrance, continues her phone contact with the Jefferson County dispatcher. Nielson reacts to the sounds of gunshots and explosions coming from the hallway outside the library. Interspersed with short conversations with the dispatcher, she screams at the students in the library to get under the tables and to stay hidden. She then reports that a gunman is just outside the library entrance.

11:28

Numerous students, running from the school, seek safety behind Taborsky’s patrol car on the school’s west side. The students tell the deputies that gunmen are inside the school randomly shooting at people with UZIs or shotguns and throwing hand-grenades. They describe the younger of the two gunmen as possibly high school age and wearing a black trench coat and a hat on backwards. The second gunman is described as “taller, a little older” and also wearing a black trench coat.

Smoker can see other deputies on the west side of the school near the concrete shed and the ballfields.

Dispatch alerts the deputies that the shooter may have a shotgun.

A 911 call reports that students are injured outside the school.

Deputy Smoker radios that students are saying the shooter is wearing a black trench coat.

11:29

Gardner requests emergency medical response to the west side of the school.

Dispatch alerts all units that Deputy Gardner is under fire and the suspect just ran into the building. “Shots fired on the southwest side with a large weapon.”

Harris and Klebold walk into the school library. The 911 call records a male voice yelling, “Get up!”

11:29 – 11:36 The Library

Harris shoots down the length of the front counter. One student, crouched behind a paper copier, is injured by flying wood splinters from the counter.

The gunmen walk through the library toward the west windows, killing one student on the way, before they shoot out the windows toward law enforcement and fleeing students.

Law enforcement returns the fire.

The gunmen then turn their attention to students inside the library. They kill four and injure four more in the west area of the library before moving back toward the library entrance to the east.

Harris and Klebold shoot out the display cabinet near the front door before firing their guns in this section of the library, injuring five and killing three.

Harris and Klebold leave the library’s east area and enter the center section, reloading their weapons at this point.

Two more students are killed and two more injured in the library’s center section before the gunmen leave the library.

In 7 ½ minutes, 10 people are killed and 12 more wounded. There are a total of 56 people in the library; 34 escape injury.

Two library employees remain hidden in the television studio. One teacher hides in the periodicals room. Patti Nielson, originally hiding under the front counter, drops the phone. She ultimately crawls into the library’s break room to hide in a cupboard. All four women remain in the library until they are evacuated by SWAT around 3:30 p.m.

11:30

Jefferson County Patrol Deputy Rick Searle, on the upper grassy area on the southwest side of the school, is evacuating students who have taken cover behind Taborsky’s patrol car. In three separate trips, Searle transports the students, including those wounded, south to a safe location at Caley Avenue and Yukon Street. Medical triage soon will be established at this spot. As soon as he gets back from his evacuation trips, he discovers even more students who have escaped the school and taken cover behind Taborsky’s patrol car.

Deputy Kevin Walker, positioned at a southern point in the student parking lot, is able to watch the lower level main south doors of the school and the entrance to the cafeteria. He can provide rescue and cover for the students fleeing to the south from the school’s lower level.

Deputy Taborsky reports hearing additional shots being fired inside the school -- “large caliber.”

Dispatch reports possible shots fired in the library.



Police pull student Patrick Ireland to safety from a shattered window in the library.

Video of the above scene



Littleton Fire calls for personnel to stage at the scene. As the department learns that some students fleeing the school are possibly injured, personnel are instructed to stage in several areas nearby and set up triage sites to treat the injured.

The county’s dispatch center goes into an emergency command system as the incoming reports begin to provide glimpses of the incident’s magnitude. Additional dispatchers soon arrive to help deal with the escalating radio traffic and 911 calls.

11:31

Deputy Searle reports smoke coming from the building.

Deputy Taborsky reports a person down on the southwest side of the school.

The 911 tape from the library records the sound of many gunshots being fired during this minute. One of the gunmen in the library yells, “Yahoo!”

The first fire alarm sounds from the upper level corridor of Columbine High School.

11:32 Communications Problems

Deputy Walker reports possibly seeing one of the gunmen through the windows on the upper level, southwest corner. Walker describes him as wearing a “white T-shirt with some kind of holster vest.”

As students and faculty escape the school to the south, they report what they saw or experienced to Deputy Magor, whose patrol car is blocking the traffic on Pierce Street to the south. Magor realizes the severity of the escalating situation and radios that the Sheriff’s Office needs mutual aid at the scene.

Many agencies already are aware of the situation at the high school because of the radio traffic they are hearing and personnel are quick to arrive at the scene. Several arriving Denver police officers and one Littleton police officer have children who are students at Columbine. One student, hiding with others inside the school’s kitchen, is on a cell phone with the Denver Police Department. His father is an officer in the department.

The first call is received by the Sheriff’s Office from the media requesting information about what is happening at Columbine High School.

11:33

Jefferson County SWAT commander Lt. Terry Manwaring, on his way to the high school, orders the Jefferson County SWAT team and the Sheriff’s Office command staff to be paged.

Dispatch reports a possible shooter on the football field behind the shed.

Jefferson County Dispatch asks if any deputies on scene have a “long gun” (a rifle or shotgun).

In response to Magor’s call for mutual aid, Jefferson County Dispatch advises that additional assistance is coming from other agencies.

11:34 - 11:36

Suspects move to the center section of the library.

11:35

Dispatch advises additional gunfire being reported.

Dispatch advises that several SWAT teams are en route.

The last victim is killed at Columbine High School.

Suspects move to the front counter of the library.

11:36 – 11:44 The Science Area

From the library Harris and Klebold go into the hallway and make their way to the science area. Witnesses describe the two as looking through the windows of some of the classrooms’ locked doors, making eye contact with some of the students, yet not attempting to break into the rooms or harm any more students.

A teacher sees Klebold and Harris in the science hallway, stopping in front of the chemical storage room just east of Science Room 3 where she is hiding.

Several students witness the suspects shooting into empty rooms. Klebold and Harris also tape an explosive device on the storage room door next to the area where teacher Dave Sanders and several students are hiding. Witnesses say the gunmen do not appear to be overly intent on gaining access to any of the rooms. The gunmen easily could have shot the locks on the doors or through the windows into the classrooms, but they do not. Their behavior now seems directionless.

11:36 Command Post Formed

Deputy Searle reports a man on the roof wearing a red, white and blue striped shirt. Initially thought to be a possible shooter, the man is later identified an employee of a heating and air conditioning company on a service call at the school to fix a leak above the girls' locker room. The repairman is on the roof when the first shots are fired and, when he realizes something is wrong, he uses a pair of vice grips to clamp the roof access hatch closed so nobody can come up to the roof.

Sgt. Ken Ester of the Intelligence Unit reports to the southeast side of the school and assists Deputy Magor.

Several more pipe bombs are thrown into the cafeteria from the library hallway a floor above. Another explosion can be seen at this time on the cafeteria videotape.

Dispatch advises multiple reports of shots in the library and multiple suspects with different descriptions -- the last being “a white, red and blue striped shirt up on the roof.”

Jeffco SWAT team commander Manwaring arrives at Pierce and Leawood and advises dispatch that the command post and the SWAT staging area will be set up at that location.

11:37 The Hallway

Another pipe bomb is thrown over the railing from the hallway above and into the cafeteria area where it explodes. This can be heard on the 911 call made from inside the library.

Littleton Fire Department is staged at Weaver and Pierce Streets.

11:38

Deputy Walker, on the south side of the school, reports an explosion that blows out windows near the cafeteria. The explosion is from a pipe bomb.

As the pipe bomb explodes, several students run out of the south cafeteria doors toward Walker. The deputy directs them to take cover behind several cars, covering them with his own gun while they position themselves away from the line of fire. Walker radios to dispatch that he has students with him, but he does not have any safe path to evacuate them from the parking lot.

Dispatch reports that one shooter is in the food preparation area and that the shooter has 17 students in that area with him. In actuality, a 911 call received from a student hiding with 17 others in the school’s kitchen reports what he thinks is a shooter in the area. The investigation determined from the cafeteria videotape that several custodial staff, equipped with keys and school radios, were in the kitchen area at that time. The student assumed what he heard were the shooters and reported to dispatch that the shooters had keys to the school and walkie talkies.

11:39

Jefferson County Patrol Sgt. Phil Hy arrives on scene and begins identifying and disseminating pertinent information to the initial responders.

11:40

Deputies report 30 students have exited the school on the west side. Many of these students taking cover behind the patrol cars are those who are able to escape from the school library after Klebold and Harris leave the library and go into the science area.

Deputy Taborsky, protecting students who have fled out the west side of the school, reports that one of the shooters might be “Ned Harris” and that he is possibly wearing bulletproof armor. The witness probably was saying “Reb,” which was Harris’ nickname.

Dispatch advises that the suspects are possibly wearing body armor.

Deputy Walker reports more explosions inside the school. The explosions seem to be moving east.

11:41

Deputy Searle reports the man is still on the roof and has moved over to the north side.

11:42 – 11:43

Based on 911 calls coming in, dispatch advises that a suspect has possibly left the building.

Dispatch also reports one person wearing a red and white shirt on the north side of the roof, one suspect in the library with a shotgun and several bombs, and another person in the cafeteria with “bulletproof equipment and several bombs.”

11:44 - 11:49

In response to reports that one of the suspects may have left the building, several deputies on scene radio their positions around the school, confirming that a perimeter has been established and all exits are covered by law enforcement.

Jefferson County Deputy Bob Byerly reports that he and members of the Colorado State Patrol (CSP) are on the northeast side of the school by the tennis courts. He maintains a view of the north side of the school and the northeast doors.

Deputies Taborsky and Smoker are on the southwest, protecting and evacuating numerous students escaping out the west side.

Deputy Searle is on the northwest side of the building, assisting with evacuation and transportation of students and staff.

Sgt. Ester and Deputy Magor are on the southeast side, assisting students and diverting traffic away from the area.

Deputy Neal Schwieterman is on the west side by the ballfields and athletic shed, assisting with transporting students to triage and to safety.

Deputy Walker is protecting and evacuating students on the south side.

Klebold and Harris leave the science area and go down into the cafeteria. The cafeteria videotape records Harris kneeling down and resting his rifle on the stair railing and firing several shots at one of the large 20-pound propane bombs hidden in a duffel bag. Photos of the cafeteria show duffel bags and backpacks scattered throughout the area, yet Harris seems to know exactly where the bombs are located and in what bags. He apparently shoots at the one, presumably in an attempt to make it explode. It does not.

The videotape also shows Klebold walking directly over to the same bomb after Harris’ failed attempts to detonate it. Klebold seems to be tampering with something on the floor.

The suspects both take a moment to drink from water bottles left by students on the school lunch tables.

A witness hiding in the cafeteria hears one of the gunmen say, “Today the world’s going to come to an end. Today’s the day we die."

11:49

Suspects are in the office area.

Sgt. Ester reports that Denver Metro SWAT has arrived on the east side of the school.

11:51

The 911 call made by Patti Nielson from the library is terminated by the dispatch center since no more activity could be heard on the line.

11:52

Jefferson County Undersheriff John Dunaway arrives at the command post and authorizes SWAT to make an immediate entry into the school.

Deputy Byerly reports shots fired on the east side of the building.

The fire sprinkler system alarm in the cafeteria is activated.

11:53 County Support

Jefferson County Sheriff John Stone, on his way to Columbine High School, calls Jefferson County Commissioner and Board Chairman Patricia Holloway. He alerts her that gunshots are being fired at the south Jefferson County school and there are reports of students injured and possible hostages taken.

Dispatch informs the command post that bomb squads from the Jefferson County and Arapahoe County Sheriff’s Offices are en route.

Dispatch also confirms a live bomb at Wadsworth and Chatfield. “Repeat. A live bomb at Wadsworth and Chatfield.”

11:53 – 11:55

Law enforcement officers on the east side of the school report noises and shots coming from the school’s northeast side.

Searle reports that Denver Police Department personnel are at the shed on the west side of the school and they have “long guns.”

A two-hour 911 phone call (from 11:29 a.m. to 1:24 p.m.) from a school secretary and a school security officer hiding in the school’s main office reports shots fired in the office, into the ceiling and in the art hallway to the north.

Dispatch gives the command post a description of one of the suspects: “Eric Harris, 5’10”, thin build, shaved blond hair, black pants and white T-shirt, light blue gym backpack.”

Littleton paramedics transport student Stephanie Munson, shot in the ankle while escaping out the east main entrance, to Littleton Hospital.

11:56

Klebold and Harris’ movements continue to be extremely random. The cafeteria videotape shows the gunmen coming back down the stairs and into the cafeteria. Klebold is holding the TEC 9.

Television news announces reports of two gunmen at Columbine High School.

Deputy Smoker advises dispatch that four down on the west side need to be evacuated.

11:57

Two ambulances, responding to Gardner’s call for medical assistance on the south side, approach the south parking lot.

Walker reports shots fired from inside the school.

The cafeteria videotape shows Klebold and Harris standing in the cafeteria surveying the damage.

The suspects walk back toward the kitchen area.

Deputy Schwieterman reports an ambulance has arrived on the south side.

11:58

Schwieterman, positioned by the west side athletic shed, reports that there are five victims outside on the southwest side of the school and gives directions where ambulances should come into the area to rescue them.

Littleton Fire Department announces that its command post is set up at Leawood and Pierce.

11:59

The suspects leave the kitchen area.

12:00 P.M.

Klebold and Harris leave the cafeteria and go upstairs to the library.

The command post tells dispatch to request Channel 7’s news helicopter flying overhead to land in Clement Park in order to pick up a Sheriff’s deputy for an aerial survey of the school.

An armored vehicle is requested to rescue the injured because the scene is “not safe for medical.”

Uninterrupted media coverage about the shooting in progress at Columbine High School begins on local television channels.

12:02

SWAT commands use of a Littleton fire truck to provide cover as the first Jefferson County, Littleton and Denver SWAT officers approach the school. Deputy Del Kleinschmidt, a Jefferson County K-9 team member assigned to SWAT, volunteers to drive the truck.

12:03

A television reporter interviews the mother of a student who told her about gunmen dressed in black in the high school’s commons area. The station also reports that, according to information gleaned from its police scanners, the school is being evacuated.

12:02 – 12:05

Littleton Fire Department paramedics rescue Sean Graves, Lance Kirklin and Anne Marie Hochhalter as they lay wounded outside the cafeteria. Because the scene is not safe, law enforcement deputies and officers move in closer to provide cover for paramedics Mark Gorman, Monte Fleming and John Aylward and emergency medical technician Jerry LoSasso as they retrieve the victims.

Gunfire erupts from the second story library windows above the cafeteria as the paramedics rescue the wounded students outside.

Deputy Walker sees a muzzle flash from a library window and returns fire.

Deputy Gardner fires three shots at the gunmen.

Denver police officers also provide suppression fire to the library windows. This allows the paramedics to retrieve the three wounded teens. The fourth student, Dan Rohrbough, is determined to be deceased. The paramedics rush the living to medical attention.

After the ambulances leave the scene with the wounded, the gunfire coming from the library windows ceases. No gunshots attributed to the gunmen are heard again.

Gardner turns his attention to a group of 15 students huddled behind a vehicle in the parking lot just a car away from him. One at a time, he evacuates the students down the line of cars to the protection of the last car farthest away from the school and the shooters.

Other students begin to escape, some out a side door of the cafeteria, and the officers “leapfrog” them back to Gardner or other waiting deputies.

A television news helicopter begins broadcasting aerial images of Columbine High School.

Jefferson County crime lab is en route to the scene with its mobile crime laboratory unit.

12:06

The first SWAT team, on foot behind a Littleton fire truck, arrives at the east main entrance to the school. Manwaring, leading the ad hoc team, splits the group into two teams and directs Jefferson County SWAT Deputy Allen Simmons to take his team into the school. It is estimated that at 12:06 p.m., Simmons’ team of five officers enters Columbine High School through the southeast doors. Manwaring will lead the second team, using the fire truck as a shield, to the west side where students are reported “down” and gunfire occurring.

Television news coverage broadcasts images of the SWAT team outside the high school.

Student Anne Marie Hochhalter is transported to Swedish Medical Hospital.

Dispatch advises that a victim shot in the head is at the Caley/Yukon triage area.

12:07

Deputy Walker asks dispatch to check on the status of the party on the roof.

12:08

A final shot is fired from the library window at law enforcement and paramedics.

Shortly thereafter, Eric Harris sat down on the library floor, his back against a bookcase, and put the barrel of his 12 gauge into his mouth. Harris's injury caused massive, multiple skull fractures and blew out his brain stem and cerebral cortex, leaving only a small portion of the medulla oblongta. Death is instant. At roughly the same time of Harris's suicide, Dylan Klebold is believed to have fired his 9mm into his left temple. According to the autopsy summary, Klebold survived long enough to aspirate blood into his lungs, and would have been capable of some involuntary movement. The two bodies are discovered in the library next to one another. Due to reader demand, I have made two posthumous photographs of Harris and Klebold available. They may be viewed here and here. Warning - these photos are extremely graphic.

The killing at Columbine High School is over.


In just under an hour, 15 people are dead, 23 are injured.

It will be Wednesday afternoon - more than 24 hours later - before the bodies of those killed are removed from the school. Several more days, weeks, and months are spent collecting evidence from the school, the Harris and Klebold homes, computers, and taking statements from witnesses.

Had the bombs detonated as Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold had planned, the death toll would have been over 400, more than double the number killed in the Oklahoma City bombing.


Clockwise from Second Row, Left: Brooks Brown, Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold



Weapons

Klebold: Intratec TEC-DC-9 9mm semi-automatic handgun w/shoulder strap; Stevens 12 gauge double-barrel shotgun, with barrel cut down to 23 inches


Dylan Klebold's TEC 9, shotgun, and several empty ammunition clips.

Dylan Klebold's TEC 9.


Harris: Hi-Point 9mm carbine rifle on a strap; Savage-Springfield 12 gauge pump-action shotgun, with both the stock and the barrel cut off. The entire weapon measured 26 inches.


Harris: Fired 25x with 12 gauge - 21 in library; 4 inside school; 0 outside; Fired 96x with 9mm - 13 in library; 36 inside school; 47 outside; Weapon of choice in the library was the 12 gauge.


Klebold: Fired 12x with 12 gauge - 6 in library; 4 inside school; 2 outside; Fired 55x with 9mm - 21 in library; 31 inside school; 3 outside; Weapon of choice in library was the TEC-9.


Bombs

Exploded: Outside - 13; Library - 5; Classrooms/Hallways - 6; Cafeteria - 6

Unexploded: Outside - 2; Library - 26; Classrooms/Hallways - 14; Cafeteria - 4

Twelve unexploded bombs, including the compenents for a car bomb, were found in Dylan Klebold's BMW. One unexploded bomb was also found in Eric Harris' Honda. Bombs in the cafeteria included two twenty-pound propane tank bombs, which did not detonate. In all, 357 pieces of explosives were collected as evidence, including items found in both boys' homes.


Alarm clock used as a detonator found in Dylan Klebold's car.


Crime Scene Maps

The following are several crime scene maps of the school. They were graciously provided by Russ Kick of thememoryhole.org. To the best of my knowledge they are exclusive to mine and Mr. Kick's websites.

Map 1
A black and white map of the front of the school and parking lot.
The locations of evidence, including ammunition cartridges and blood spots, are marked.


Map 2
A second black and white map of the front of the school and parking lot.
The location of law enforcement personnel are written in red.


Map 3
A third black and white map of the front of the school.
The locations of spent shells from Dylan Klebold's shotgun are marked in the upper lefthand side of the map.


Map 4
A color map of the library.
The yellow lines are trajectories of bullets fired into the library by law enforcement.


Map 5
A color map of the office area in the eastern part of the school.
Items of evidence are marked and numbered in red.


Map 6
An aerial photograph map of Columbine high school detailing the location of eyewitnesses.
The dead are indentified in red, injured in yellow.
The locations of eyewitnesses are marked in green, with law enforcement personnel identified in blue.


Both Klebold and Harris also carried several knives, which were not used.


Note:

Only two shots may be fired from a double-barreled shotgun before the shooter must break the barrel open and manually insert two new rounds. A pump-action shotgun may be fired as fast as the gunman can pump and shoot. (Shells are ejected and a live shell slides into its place.) A gunman can shoot five rounds with a pump shotgun before the weapon must be reloaded. Also, the 12 gauge shotguns were cut down so much that the recoil would have made their hands bleed.



BEFORE COLUMBINE


"I'm taking a ride with my best friend
I hope he never lets me down again
He knows where he's taking me
Taking me where I want to be
I'm taking a ride with my best friend."

- Depeche Mode/'Never Let Me Down Again'/Music for the Masses



Dylan Klebold
"It's Dylan."

Dylan Bennet Klebold was the second child of Thomas and Susan Klebold, born in Denver, Colorado on September 11, 1981. His brother Byron was three years older. As a child, Klebold was involved in Little League and the Boy Scouts. His parents told police that Dylan never gave any indications of a violent disposition.

From the third grade until middle school, he attended a program for gifted and talented children, but was painfully shy. His parents blamed it on the transition from elementary to middle school, and were not concerned, since Dylan was active in school and in sports.

Once at Columbine High School, Klebold became involved in play production, including lighting and sound, video production, and the school's news network. He was also a computer assistant, helped maintain the school's computer server, and even built his own computer at home.

Thomas and Susan Klebold say Dylan was terribly shy, and had few close friends other than Eric Harris. Other friends and acquaintances described him as a quiet loner, follower, and a 'nice, normal teenager'. Dylan was a tall - his autopsy report gives his height as six feet, four inches - skinny kid possessed of a typically teenage sense of humor. In short films he and Harris made for school, Dylan can be seen laughing as he flubs his lines, bursting into laughter during scenes meant to be dramatic. In many scenes he struggles to keep a straight face. Home videos the two boys made also reveal a side of Dylan that was deeply buried on April 20, 1999. One features Dylan at the wheel of his ancient BMW, blasting music and giggling. He was also intelligent and well spoken, a trait pointed out in police interviews by shooting witnesses who remembered him as 'sounding articulate.' Another video, shot in the woods, shows Harris and Klebold firing the very guns they would later use to kill their classmates. The following is a portion of what would later be known as the 'Rampart Range' video.





For all the outer 'normality', violence was festering beneath Klebold's benign exterior. After his death, notes and thoughts were found written in a day planner, a journal, (which began on March 31, 1997) a math notebook, and a school yearbook. He wrote of depression, a hatred for life, and suicide. Yet at the same time, he also wrote open his "first love", even writing unsent letters to one girl.

But again in 1997 Klebold wrote that he wished for death, and wanted someone to buy him a gun so that he could commit suicide.

In November of 1997, he wrote of going on a killing spree...saying "the lonely man strikes with absolute rage."

In Klebold's notebook, alongside math homework and notes, were eight pages of diagrams that seemed to be written on April 19 - one day before the shootings. The entry read, "About 26.5 hours from now the judgement will begin. Difficult but not impossible, necessary, nervewracking and fun. What fun is life without a little death? It's interesting, when I'm in my human form, knowing I'm going to die. Everything has a touch of triviality to it."

The last entry in the notebook read as follows:


Walk in, set bombs at 11:09, for 11:17

Leave

Drive to Clemete Park. Gear up.

Get back by 11:15

Park cars. Set car bombs for 11:18

Get out, go to outside hill, wait.

When first bombs go off, attack.

Have fun!


Eric Harris
"There is nothing you guys could have done to prevent any of this."

Eric Harris was the son of Wayne and Kathy Harris, and the little brother of Kevin Harris, three years his senior. He was born on April 9, 1981, in Wichita, Kansas, but soon moved. Wayne Harris was in the Air Force, and during the course of his military career and the family bounced from state to state before settling in Littleton, Colorado in July of 1993. As a child and as a teenager, Harris' parents say their son was interested in baseball cards, computer games and videos. His parents said that their son was happy to be by himself but also had close friends in high school. While attending Columbine High School, Harris became involved in video productions and the school’s Rebel News Network, as well as the school’s computer labs, going by the nickname Reb. In a videotape released by authorities after the shootings, Eric can be seen sitting at a table in the cafeteria of Columbine High School with three friends. They are paralyzingly typical teenage boys, discussing cars, jobs, and girls. One of the boys at the table points out a girl Eric seems to have a crush on, telling Eric, "You know you want to tap it!" (In a video recording he and Dylan made the morning of the shooting, Eric chastises several girls for refusing to date him.) Despite the good natured jabs and animated conversation, Eric remains mostly taciturn and somber throughout the tape, and at one point announces, "I hate everybody."

Five years after moving to Littleton, Harris began his journal, detailing his hatred for humanity and his love for anger. One entry read, "I will sooner die than betray my own thoughts, but before I leave this worthless place, I will kill whoever I deem unfit."

In his writings, Harris explained the reasons behind the killings. "It's not my fault! Not my parents, not my brothers, not my friends, not my favorite bands, not computer games, not the media, it's mine.....I'm full of hate and I love it." In the single 1999 entry, Eric said, "I hate you people for leaving me out of so many fun things." It is believed that Harris' disqualification from the U.S. Marine Corp (due to the prescription drugs he was on,) gave him a damaging sense of worthlessness and anger. Harris claims he would have been a good Marine - "it would have given me a reason to be good".

Harris also scribbled his testaments to death in his 1998 yearbook, writing "God I can't wait till they die. I can taste the blood now." He also doodled a picture of a gunman standing among several dead bodies, with a caption that read, "the only reason you're still alive is because someone has decided to let you live." Harris also wrote a violent short story for a class, which can be read here

Example of Eric Harris' Drawings

An undated piece of notebook paper was also found among Harris' writings. It included a drawing of the Columbine High School cafeteria, along with a timeline of how many people were in the cafeteria just before and during the first lunch period. At 11:10, Harris estimated 270 to 300 people in the cafeteria and makes a note of “heavy additions” and the “lines start.” One minute later, he counted about 300 to 350 people in the cafeteria, and from 11:12 to 11:13 there were between 350 and 450.

From 11:14 to 11:15, there were over 500 students.

Another entry read:


5:00 Get-up

6:00 meet at KS

7:00 go to Reb’s [Harris' nickname, short for 'Rebel']house

7:15 he leaves to fill propane

I leave to fill gas

8:30 Meet back at his house

9:00 made d. bag set up car

9:30 practice gearups

Chill

10:30 set up 4 things

11: go to school

11:10 set up duffel bags

11:12 wait near cars, gear up

11:16 HAHAHA

Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris were close friends for over five years - they probably knew one another better than anyone else. They most certainly were close enough to share a plot to kill classmates and teachers at their own school.

Their pasts read like any other suburban, upper-middle class family history. They managed to get themselves in trouble on January 30, 1998, but even that did not stop them.

It was on that day that Klebold and Harris were arrested after breaking into a vehicle in Jefferson County, Colorado. In April of the same year, the two were placed into the Jefferson County District Attorney's juvenile diversion program. As part of the program, they were required to pay fines, attend classes on anger management, counseling, and complete community service. In 'client information forms' the boys were required to fill out, Eric Harris indicated that he was already having suicidal and homicidal thoughts. The forms, dated March 25th, 1998, are accessible below.


Form 1

Form 2

Form 3


Once the program was finished and the tasks done, Klebold and Harris's criminal past would no longer exist. All charges were dropped and they were released from the program in February of 1999.


Copies of Termination Report From Juvenile Diverson Program

Dylan Klebold

Eric Harris


On March 18, 1998, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office also took a report of a 'suspicious incident' from Randy Brown, who son, Brooks, would later be seen outside Columbine High School in the minutes before the shooting began. Klebold and Harris commanded him to leave the school - which he did, escaping the gunfire.

But this time, the accusations were that Harris had posted death threats on his web pages. Harris was said to have written about making bombs and using them to kill, although Sherriff's investigators could not access Harris' website, nor could they find any evidence of pipe bomb detonations. Because the Brooks family feared for their lives and wished to remain anonymous, Klebold and Harris were not contacted about the threats. No other information about the allegations was ever gathered.


Copies of Eric Harris' Web Page
Included in Jefferson County Suspicious Incident Report

Page 1

Page 2


I was recently given the opportunity to speak with a former AOL chatroom user who vividly recalled speaking with Eric Harris online as early as 1998, continuing into the spring of 1999. The source, who chose to remain anonymous and will henceforth be known as R, recalled heated debates in some of the America Online political chatrooms. Late in the evening, sometimes as late as midnight, a user going by the name of 'Rebdomine' would log on and proceed to whip the other chatters into a frenzy with his hard-line political views and refusal to consider other's opinions. R states that while Rebdomine made a few valid points, he used verbal attacks and swearing to take the difference of opinion to a personal level with other users. In mid March of 1999, R pointed out to Rebdomine that he was taking matters far too personally. In a private message, Rebdomine asked R what he meant by this, to which R responded that his (Rebdomine's) point could be better made if he used less profanity and personal attacks. Perhaps because R took the time to reach out to Rebdomine - Eric Harris - a sort of online friendship arose. Through private messaging and chatting, the source learned that Rebdomine was a high school student in Colorado. Harris would ask his new friend, a war veteran, about what is was like to go to war, as well as growing up and living in Chicago among street gangs. Harris eventually told R that he was writing a book, and asked if he would like to read a portion of it. Not keen on reading the writings of a high school student, the source agreed to read it but eventually forgot about the offer.

The friendship grew, with Harris discussing his love for video games like Doom, (which R also played with adult friends,) guns, and his feelings of ostracization at school. At times he detailed creating a 'diversion' before a 'big attack', and spoke of how when the day came, he was going to make sure he got the chance to shoot certain other students at his school. Assuming that the teen was merely blowing off steam, R chalked Harris's ranting up to adolescent feelings of peer pressure and a vivid imagination, a coping mechanism for his feelings of being 'outside' the rest of his peers. Despite the violence he spoke of, R found Harris to be articulate, intelligent, and entertaining. He credited Harris's interest in guns to video games such as Doom, and felt that Harris was just seeking attention with his vitrol.

On Sunday, April 19th, 1999, R was spending a free weekend at home and logged onto American Online. Moments later, a private message from Eric Harris appeared. Eric told R that his prom had been that weekend, and proceeded to say that Monday was the "big day" and that "plans were in motion" and there was nothing to stop the turn of events now, and that after Monday prom would be distant memory. The two discussed Harris's book and website, prompting Harris to send R a few pages from the book. R told Harris that he would look at his website, but did not bother to write down the address.

Later that day, R sat down to read the sampling of pages Harris had sent him. R told me that the contents of the 'book' were greatly disturbing, and having read them I must agree. Included in the pages were detailed, explicit instructions on how to build pipe bombs and produce homemade napalm. Harris omitted nothing, even relating in the instructions how and where to hide gasoline so that one's parents wouldn't discover it. At the bottom of each page was a copyright with the name of one Wayne Harris - Eric's father. Unnerved by the documents, R planned to discuss them with Eric in the AOL chatrooms. He never got the chance.

The events of April 20th, 1999 unfolded and R realized that his internet friend was Eric Harris of Littleton, CO. R told me that he finds the ordeal sad, and that he felt Harris was an intelligent person who was obviously far more troubled that he let on - or that R noticed. Hindsight, as R pointed out, is 20/20.



No one knows when or how Harris and Klebold first began plotting the killings and voicing their hatred for the world to one another. Judging by the notes and diagrams they left behind, the shootings at Columbine High School had been in the planning stage for more than a year.

The two also left videotapes detailing their plans. They recorded a tour of Harris' bedroom, showing off guns and homemade bombs while they taped, 'dress rehearsals' for the shooting, and the drive in Harris' car to buy what they needed to carry out the attack.

In the videos, both boys laugh at how simple it was to make others belive what they wanted them to. On camera, they vehemntly denied 'copying' any other school shootings - saying they were going to be successful becaue they were going to die.

They also discussed their shared hatred for life, and Harris declared, "There is nothing that anyone could have done to prevent this," calling the shootings a "a two man war against everyone else." The shootings may have been planned to happen on April 19. They mentioned Mondays often, and said, "Today is the 11th [of April, 1999], eight more days." The media has said that the two chose the date for the killings because it was the anniversary of the deadly FBI raid on the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing, and it was Adolf Hitler's birthday. In their journals, however, neither Klebold nor Harris made any correlations with either date. They never mentioned Waco, Oklahoma City, or Hitler.

In one of the videotapes, they also try to justify their actions. They say that although their friends and family will be devastated, "war is war." At the end of the nearly three-hour tape, the two apologize to their parents and say goodbye. "That's it," Harris says. "Sorry. Goodbye."

Klebold leans into camera range. "Goodbye."

Eric Harris and Dyland Klebold were at an age where sociopathic tendencies begin to become prominent in males. Aggression, narcissism, and a disregard for societal rules and other's feelings are trademarks of anti-social personality disorder, whose sufferers are referred to as either a sociopath, or the more recent term, psychopath.

Contrary to popular belief, there is a marked difference between a psychopath and a psychotic. Although typically non-violent, psychotics tend to exhibit symptoms that resemble schizophrenia, such as auditory, tactile, and visual hallucinations, delusions, and erratic behavior. When psychotics do become violent, they typically are captured quickly, as their mental illness leaves their judgement poor and behavior impulsive. The scene of a crime committed by a psychotic would tend to be very disorganized, and psychotic killers are prone to leave evidence lying about that a more careful planner would dispose of. (One example of a psychotic killer is Richard Chase, nicknamed by the media as the 'Vampire of Sacramento.)

On the flipside, psychopaths are calculating, manipulative, and meticulous in not only their everyday life but also in the crime scenes they leave behind. Ted Bundy, a classic example of a pyschopath, was very careful not to leave his own hair, blood, fibers, or any other kind of incriminating evidence at a crime scene. It was due to careful planning before each killing that he avoided capture, only to be arrested over a speeding ticket.

When it comes to the number of shots fired, Eric Harris seems much more aggressive. Harris fired a total of 121 shots, while Klebold fired 67. Harris also used his shotgun much more than Klebold, who fired many more shots with his 9mm. Klebold, although he aimed and fired at some students, appeared to be more of a random shooter, wildly pulling the trigger. Of the two, Harris seemed to 'target' his victims more, and makes use of a shotgun that would have been painful to use, fired less quickly than a 9mm, but would have caused extensive damage. In the library, where ten people died, Eric Harris saw two girls huddling beneath a table. He walked up, slapped the table twice, shouted "Peek-a-boo!" and then shot the two girls with his 12 gauge shotgun. According to witness accounts, Harris' face then began bleeding - the gun's recoil was so strong it had broken his nose. Students say he was laughing the entire time, saying, "Everyone's going to die."

Also in the library, Harris threw a CO2 cartridge under a table. Student Makai Hall grabbed the explosive and threw it further away from the rest of the students before it exploded. By this time, Harris had climbed onto a row of bookshelves and was shaking them back and forth, screaming swear words.

From there, Klebold and Harris made their way back to the library entrance, where Klebold shot out a display case before firing underneath a table, killing one girl and injuring two others.

They continued to peek under tables, shooting and killing. Hiding beneath one table was a friend of Dylan Klebold's. The boy asked Klebold what he was doing, to which Klebold replied, "Oh, just killing people." The student asked if they were going to kill him, but Klebold told the boy to leave the library immeadiately, which he did.

There is some evidence to support the theory that Eric Harris shot and killed Dylan Klebold before committing suicide. Some reports claim that the trajectory of the 9mm bullet that killed Klebold did not match that of a self-inflicted wound, although his autopsy report states that Klebold's death was a suicide. Autopsy findings prove that the bullet entered his left temple. Although some who commit suicide do not use their dominant hand to pull the trigger, most self-inflicted gunshot wounds are administered with the dominant hand. The recently released autopsy report for Dylan Klebold states that he was right handed, although the bullet that killed him entered through the left temple. In all likelihood, however, Klebold's death was almost certainly a suicide.

It is indisputable that Harris' fatal wound was self-inflicted. He committed suicide by shooting himself in the mouth with his sawed-off shotgun. The ammunition for a 12 gauge shotgun does not fire a single, neat bullet that enters its target in one piece. Once fired, a shotgun releases several metal balls, of varying size and 'spread' - how far the pellets seperate from one another before striking their target. From close range, the pellets may enter their target in tight formation, and exit in a wider pattern. The resulting injury would have been horrific.

In the videotapes the two boys made, journal entries, and behavior prior to the Columbine shooting, Eric Harris exhibits signs of having a psychopathic personality. Many psychopaths exhibit signs of depression, which may become severe. Harris was prescribed Luvox, a mood-altering medication. He seemed to believe he was above the rest of the world, other races, and sees himself as a victim of society's cruelty.

On the other hand, Dylan Klebold exhibits signs of a borderline anti-social personality disorder. He is a few months younger than Harris, and his journal entries of hatred and murder begin before Harris had started writing the same sentiments, but there is much more blatant, chilling hatred in the words of Eric Harris. For the most part, Klebold allowed Harris to take charge of the plan to kill at Columbine High School. In the boys' homemade videotapes detailing their plan, Klebold, although he echos Harris's murderous beliefs and appears eager to carry out the killings, seems to treat the whole incident as a game. Once the killing had begun, although he seemed to actually take aim and fire at some students, Klebold favored a semi-automatic 9mm, which he fired in a sweeping motion, not specifically targeting any one object or person. In the library, Klebold became destructive and began throwing furniture and breaking windows and computers. Had he lived, Klebold was well on the way to developing a full-fledged psychopathic personality, but at the time of the shootings, he was more a follower of Harris. Still, without Harris' twisted guidance, Klebold would probably have become a psychopathic adult. The seed of homicidal tendencies was already planted in his brain. Eric Harris was a match; Klebold was the explosive that Harris set off. If one had not had the other as a confidant and partner in hate, the Columbine High School shootings may never have happened.


THE SOCIAL LADDER

Aerial View of Columbine High School


Violence, in all its forms, is part of the American education curriculum. Kids tease, humilate, and make fun of one another for trivialities of all kinds, never realizing that there is a world beyond high school - a world full of many, many kinds of people.

In almost incidents of school violence, the perpetrators were said to have been taunted and subjected to varying degrees of cruelty - from racial slurs to beatings - by other students. There is no question that such an environment will exacerbate feelings of inferiority, hoplessness, and anger. Many kids dream of revenge against those made their lives Hell, but few materialize their vengeance.

Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris are not to be commended for what they did, yet disaffected teens have placed them on a pedestal. They have become icons for the degeneration of society, and icons for misfits who see their own fantasies of revenge in the Columbine High School shootings. They have also become the poster boys for evil - two gun-toting, crazed gunmen killing the innocent.

In it indisputable that there was a 'popular' sect of students at Columbine High School. (As there is at every school, to varying degrees.) The school's state wrestling champion was allowed to park his $100,000 Hummer in a 15 minute parking space - all day. A football player repeatedley teased a girl about her breasts - in class, in front of a teacher - with no fear of retribution. And just like any school in America, the sports trophies were displayed in the front of the school, the art in a back hallway. The discrimination was even evident in the yearbook - sports pages were in full color, other clubs were in black and white.

At Columbine, the football homecoming king was on probation for burglary.

The obvious favoritism given to the athletic crowd probably angered many students - including Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris. The only difference is that their anger toward certain groups of students materialized into a hatred for everyone. They didn't target just the athletes or just the black kids. They killed indiscriminately.

Discrimination and favoritism - especially in a high school - is so commonplace it's almost to be expected. But when does letting one student get away with a little bit more cross the line into a serious violation of rights?

It has been years since the shooting at Columbine, and now, too late, people are finally asking why some students were habitually allowed to torment others, and never have to worry about getting into trouble.

No one can argue that the schoolroom injustices suffered by Klebold and Harris explain or excuse what they did. One can argue that the obvious favoritism made Harris and Klebold's feelings of worthlessness and vengeance all the more powerful.

The country may blame violent video games, (Harris was a fan of Doom,) hardcore music, movies, and T.V., but in the years since Columbine, a task force has been formed to examine the atmosphere, disciplinary actions, (or lack thereof,) harassment, and special treatment of athletes at the high school.

Police interviews and court records indicate that both Harris and Klebold knew that at their school, athletes could be convicted of crimes and face no suspension or expulsion from school or school-related activities. They also witnessed athletes tormenting other students while teachers and administrators turned a blind eye.

The favoritism at Columbine High School may have gone farther than that at any other American high school. Klebold and Harris once watched as the school's state wrestling champ, Rocky Wayne Hoffschneider, shove his girlfriend into a locker. A teacher witnessed the entire incident and did nothing. Hoffschneider and four other star athletes were arrested for ransacking the Denver apartment of a 22-year-old man, according to court records. The arrests made the papers. Within days, the athletes were back at school. Nine months later they pleaded guilty and got probation.

One gnawing question is this: why was Hoffschneider even allowed at a public school? The 215 pound football player and wrestler transferred to Columbine in 1996, after being expelled from a private school for fighting. He brought with him a criminal record - a 1992 arrest for criminal mischief and 1995 arrest relating to a missing person. But since the star athlete was a juvenile, his records were sealed.

The summer before Hoffschneider came to Columbine, his girlfriend's parents accused his mother and sister of kicking in their door one morning. The girl's father is quoted as saying the Hoffschneider family was "was abusive and physical towards us."

The situation was so serious, in fact, that the girl's parents kept three of their children from attending Columbine when they learned that Hoffschneider had transferred to their children's school.

Harris' friend Brooks Brown also tells of personal torment by athletes. According to Brown, he, Harris, and Klebold were standing outside when a carload of athletes drove by, throwing a glass bottle out of the car, which shattered at their feet. Brown remembers Klebold saying, "Don't worry, man, it happens all the time."

"We all hated it — hated the fact we were outcasts just simply because we weren't in sports," Brown says. "It's insane when you think about it, but it's real."

Columbine school officials have mostly ignored the task force's investigation. Coaches, teachers and principal Frank DeAngelis refused requests for interviews. School spokesman Rick Kaufman said he would answer written questions, but then did not. He also broke an appointment for a scheduled interview. Messages left for coaches, teachers and administrators at home went unanswered.

One of the few who've acknowledged wrongdoing at Columbine High is Jefferson County school board member David DiGiacomo, who says, "I do believe that in all of our schools athletes can appear to have a different status. I think it's OK if kids are working hard and they're good role models, but to give them special privileges, I think we have to be careful."

The day of the schooting, parent Stephen Greene called a school hotline about his son. Instead, he was greeted by the hotline's voice mail. His message was, "I knew something like this in this school could happen."

Stephen Greene has had his own run-in with Hoffschneider. The athlete had been attending Columbine for less than a month when he and another football player began teasing Greene's son, Jonathan, who is Jewish. During gym class, the two would sing songs about Hitler whenever they made a basket - all in front of the gym teacher(also Hoffschneider's wrestling coach,) who did nothing.

The abuse didn't stop there. Greene says, "They pinned him [Jonathan] on the ground and did 'body twisters.' He got bruises all over his body. Then the threats began — about setting him on fire and burning him."

Greene took the incidents to his son's guidance counselor. "They said, 'This stuff can happen.' They looked at me like I was a problem," he said. Greene called the school board, which notified the police. Court records show that Hoffschneider and the other athlete were charged with harassment, kicking and striking, and sentenced to probation.

Hoffschneider was allowed to continue his football and wrestling.

In the meantime, he was building his own little group of cronies. Parent Cecelia Buckner says, "He created a tough little group of guys — probably seven or eight boys that were involved in sports, mostly football, wrestling, who began to take control of the school."

Anthony A. Pyne, a 230-pound football player, was one of Hoffschneider's buddies. After Christmas, Pyne began to tease Aundrea Harwick in English class about her breasts. Harwick went to the teacher, Tom Tonelli, who was also a Columbine football and wrestling coach. His solution? Move to a different seat.

Harwick says that at a Columbine wrestling match at Arvada High School, Pyne announced, "Her breasts are getting bigger." Once again, she told Coach Place. He told her to sit on the other side of the gym.

She then went to a woman at a concession stand, who called the Arvada police. The officer issued Pyne a ticket. Because he was a juvenile, court records are not available, but Harwick said he pleaded guilty and paid a $50 fine.

The next day at school, administrator Rich Long, trying to persuade the girl to drop the charges, told Harwick and her mother that "by her going and getting the police, she's ruining his possibilities of playing on the football team," Elissa Harwick recalled.

Pyne played football anyway. Friends of Harris and Klebold noticed the favorable treatment Hoffschneider received. Their friend Tad Boles recallsm "He always got things that we never could get...respect."

At the beginning of Harris and Klebold's junior year, while in line for registration for new classes, football players shoved a 4-foot-9 freshman girl and called her dirty because she dressed like a hippie. On another occasion a boy called "Little Joey Stair," who was friends with Harris and Klebold, looked up in a hallway to see three football players shoving him into a locker, saying, "Fag, what are you looking at?"

In the halls, body slams were an everyday occurence. The social 'outcasts' - a group including Harris, Klebold, their friends, acquaintances, and others, got pushed around more than most. "A football player reached out and stepped on the cord of one of these girls' Walkmen and it ripped out and fell and broke," remembered Melissa Snow, who graduated in 1998. "She just didn't say anything. For those kinds of kids it's really hard to stand up to a bunch of football players, who are all standing around thinking it's really funny what this guy did to you."

Harris and Klebold seemed to take the taunting to heart. "They just let the jocks get to them," Colby said. "I think they were taunted to their limits."

Some students also seem to understand the factors that drove Harris and Klebold over the edge. in an ABC news interview, Eric Quintana, whose two friends were killed by Harris and Klebold, explains, “With all the animosity between the various social groups at Columbine, something like this was bound to happen.”

Student Thad Martin says the 'jocks' (athletes) teased others for how they dress. "It makes you not want to go to school."

There are cliques at every school, and Columbine was no different. Acceptance and 'fitting in' is a high priority in most teenagers' lives. Columbine senior Alisha Basore describes the subcultures at Columbine. “People are so worried about what their hair is going to look like, what they’re going to wear, so worried that they look cool. It’s a rat race inside the school to see who’s going to be more popular. Everybody’s thinking: Am I going to look cool for the popular kids? Are they going to accept me?”

Quintana agrees, “The jocks rule the school, and they kind of get a big head and think that they own the world.” Dylan Klebold, Eric Harris, and the other outcasts at Columbine High faced verbal abuse daily. Students say that people would cut in front of them in the lunch line, throw garbage at them, made fun of their clothing, and were roughed around by others. But killing twelve people over verbal taunts, cuts in the lunch line, and insults?

People have died for less.

Eric Veik, a friend of Harris and Klebold, says the two would often joke about getting revenge, saying, "It’s time to get back at the school.”

“They were tired of those who were insulting them, harassing them,” Veik says. “They weren’t going to take this anymore, and they wanted to stop it. Unfortunately, that’s what they did.”

Dyland Klebold and Eric Harris were probably mentally unstable to begin with - but plenty of kids are teased at school, and do not resort to murder.

No child should ever have to face the verbal and physical abuse that was doled out by the handful at Columbine High. Someone had to have noticed - someone did notice, but nothing was done.

The ultimate blame for Columbine lies in the hands of Eric Harris and Dyland Klebold. But as with nearly any crime, there were factors that aggravated their already fragile minds, factors that sent them over the edge. No one listened to the kids at Columbine who told tales of harrassment, abuse, beatings, verbal taunting. No one listened to Klebold or Harris. Not their teachers, not their parents, not the police who arrested them for breaking into a car.

The signs that something wicked was to come were everywhere. At first, they may have been subtle, something most adults would dismiss as 'teenage stuff'. However, as time progressed, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris were practically screaming, in not so many words, for help.

Unfortunately, no one took the time to look and listen. But someone had to have had an idea as to what Eric and Dylan were plotting...at the very least, the boys' fathers. Wayne Harris, Eric's father, who contacted the Jefferson County police department while the shooting was still in progress. On the tape of his 911 call, he tells the dispatcher, "This is Wayne Harris, the father of Eric Harris. I think my son may be involved in the shooting at Columbine." Dylan Klebold's father, Tom, placed a similar call to 911.

Harris and Klebold were skewed in their thought process. Were they desensitized to violence? Yes. Did the video games, movies, and TV they indulged in add to this? Probably. Some kids have trouble seperating the line between fantasy and reality. Kids like Eric and Dylan.

They both knew that no one would listen, and they reacted the only way they knew how - through violence. Death was not real to them. Did they want people to die? Yes, but one can argue that in their stunted emotional states, they never grasped the finality of shooting other students. They wanted revenge. They wanted the people who had caused them pain to feel their pain, a thousandfold. They wanted recognition, in any shape or form. They wanted someone to listen.

The shooting at Columbine High School was one last, fatal cry for help from two boys who had obvious behavorial disorders. It is very sad, for lack of a better word, that no one listened to them, no one tried to help. It is cause for even deeper sorrow that they cried out in the way that they did.

It is neither violent video games or movies that made Harris and Klebold kill. It was not the music they listened to, the clothes they wore. The seeds of violence had been planted early on in the two boys, and spurted out on April 20, 1999. Harris and Klebold had a cause to support - exact revenge on all those who had wronged them, either real or perceived. Coupled with an already unstable mind, the taunting they were subjected to caused something to snap within them. They retaliated in death. In their twisted pysche, murder was the only solution. They would go from nobodies to infamous criminals, and everyone would finally know their names.

Now, everyone knows Harris and Klebold's names, and what they did. They will live forever in the history of crime. Fame - notoriety - was what they wanted. In death, they have achieved their goal.

We will never know what exactly went on in the minds of Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris. We will never know what exactly happened in their final moments. If we have learned anything from their act of mass murder, it is that we must learn to accept one another. We must never ignore the fact that at Columbine, violence begat violence. What Harris and Klebold did is inexplicable, inexscusable, and horrific, and there are many lessons we can learn from their crime and its survivors. Whatever happened to raising one's children? Whatever happened to adults listening to children when they need someone to talk to?

Whatever happened to acceptance? Whatever happened to punishing those who do wrong?

The killings at Columbine High School have raised many questions. Now, years later, there are even more teachers, parents, kids - people everywhere - asking why Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris did what they did.

Unfortunately, for some questions, there will never be answers.

When it comes to the Columbine High School shootings, hindsight is always 20/20, and blame must fall on someone or something.

A gubernatorial task force released its findings on May 17, 2001. The task force, though their cause may be called a noble one, really didn't turn up anything we didn't already know.

According to the commission's report, authorities failed to recognize and act on numerous signs that Klebold and Harris were planning the attack for up to a year. I don't believe the police are totally at fault - what could they have done to stop two unstable kids from shooting up their school? Nothing. Dyland Klebold and Eric Harris came from good families, were financially able to hire the most able lawyers, and besides, no one wants to believe that two kids in their teens could exact such vengenace.

Harris and Klebold told friends and acquaintances that 'something would happen', posted threats on their website, and recorded video tapes detailing their plan and showing off their weapons. We know that and have known that ever since the shootings occured.

So what is different about a teenage kid blowing off steam and a teenage kid seriously plotting a media-dubbed massacre? Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris had guns - plenty of guns. Coupled with their videotaped, spoken, and written threats, couldn't this have all been avoided?

Perhaps it could - but no one paid close enough attention to the two to fully grasp their hatred and do something.

One of the major issues tackled by the task force was a search warrant prepared for Eric Harris' home - to look for bomb-making materials. The warrant was proposed about a year before the shootings, but never executed. If authorities had searched Harris' home, would it really have solved anything? What would they have found, if anything?

In the end, it's all just a whole lot of finger-pointing. The victims' families and the public want someone to take the blame. Maybe the police could have done more to stop Klebold and Harris, but in a metropolitan area such as Denver, (Littleton is close enough to almost be considered a suburb,) authorities are swamped with work, with crimes they know they can prosecute. It is a game of pick-and-choose what to investigate, and Denver, like any large city in America, has its fair share of crime.

In the end, there are many, many people at fault, but only two who can truly take the blame. The gunmen's families, friends, the police, they did not pull the trigger. Perhaps they could have taken steps to stop it, but perhaps it was simply fate intervening and teaching us all a lesson: a lesson I'm not sure anyone has fully realized yet.


"There are no words to convey how sorry we are for the pain that has been brought upon the community as a result of our son's actions. The pain of others compounds our own as we struggle to live a life without the son we cherished. In the reality of the Columbine tragedy and its aftermath, we look with the rest of the world to understand how such a thing could happen...We look forward to a day when all of our pain is replaced by peace and acceptance."

- Klebold Family Statement


"We continue to be profoundly saddened by the suffering of so many that has resulted from the acts of our son. We loved our son dearly, and search our souls daily for some glimmer of a reason why he would have done such a horrible thing. What he did was unforgivable and beyond our capacity to understand. The passage of time has yet to lessen the pain."

- Wayne and Kathy Harris, Parents of Eric Harris



Ten Years Later



May 20th, 1999. Fifteen year old Thomas Solomon shoots and injures six students at his high school in Conyers, Georgia.

December 6th, 1999. Thirteen year old Seth Trickey brings a 9mm handgun to school and wounds four at his Fort Gibson, Oklahoma middle school.

May 26th, 2000. Thirteen year old Nate Brazill shoots and kills one teacher at Lake Worth Middle School in Lake Worth, Florida.

March 5th, 2001. Fifteen year old Charles Andrew Williams shoots fifteen people at Santana High School in Santee, California. Two are killed.

April 24, 2003. Fourteen year old James Sheets kills the principal at Red Lion Area Junior High School, Red Lion, Pennsylvania, before turning the gun on himself.

March 21, 2005. Sixteen year old Jeff Weise shoots and kills ten people. Among the dead are his grandfather, a security guard, a teacher, and five other students at the Red Lake, Minnesota school he attended. Weise commits suicide.

April 16th, 2007. Twenty-three year old Cho Seung-Hui injures seventeen and kills thirty-two people at the Blacksburg, Virginia campus of Virginia Polytechnic Institute. Six others are injured jumping from windows in an attempt to escape the killings.


Cho Seung-Hui


Cho's rampage is a grim milestone in the history of school shootings, as it is the deadliest mass shooting by a single gunman in the United States. Cho was armed with a .22 semiautomatic handgun, a .9mm Glock 19, chains, locks, a knife, locks, nineteen ten and fifteen round magazines, and nearly four hundred rounds of ammunition. The young man who had been adjudicated 'mentally unsound' preceded his spree by mailing several writings and videos to the NBC News network. He was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on the school campus. His mental state at the time has been compared to that of both Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.

These are only a handful of the school shootings that have occured in the United States since the Columbine High School shootings.

These are only a handful of the school shootings that have occured internationally since then.

Recently I read an article in a Florida newspaper about a teenage boy who was raped with a hockey stick and broom by four of his thirteen year old classmates. It used to be that children were afraid of strangers, monsters, or the bogeyman. Now it seems that the bogeyman may be sitting at the next desk.

In the ten years since Columbine, the survivors have tried to go about their lives in a world that surely is not the same as it was before April 20th, 1999. The following is a brief synopses of what several of the survivors are doing at this point in time.

Patrick Ireland, whose escape from the library window was broadcast to a terrified nation, still lives with a bullet in his brain. He had to learn to walk, talk, read, and write all over again, but the visible signs of being shot three time are few.

Anne Marie Hochhater is confined to a wheelchair after being shot in the back, paralyzed from the waist down. 2000, her senior year of high school, was marked by the suicide of her mother .

Valeen Schnurr is a social worker now. She has stopped jarring awake in the middle of the night, but told an ABC News reporter, "I look in the mirror every day and I have a permanent reminder of what happened 10 years ago...And you just have to find a balance of not letting it bother you as much and just accepting yourself for who you are. And, you know, I feel like I've been able to do that."

Richard Castaldo will forever be paralyzed from the chest down thanks to his injuries. He is currently an intern at a sound studio.

Sean Graves was shot six times and spent two years unable to walk. He returns to the high school every year and lights a cigar in honor of his friend Daniel Rohrbough, who was killed outside the cafeteria.

Lisa Kreutz was the last living person to be rescued from the school library. She has never spoken publicly about the shootings.

Mark Kintgen was shot in the head and shoulder. He planned to attend college after graduating from Columbine High School in May of 2000.

Kacey Ruegsegger attended Colorado State University and married in 2006.

Brian Anderson now owns his own trucking company in the Jefferson County, Colorado area.

Nicole Nowlen is a public speaker and can be reached through her website, www.nicolenowlen.com.


I'm not sure what we have learned since Columbine, since Virginia Tech, since any one of the incidents mentioned here. We surely are well aware that both children and adults, even those who are mentally ill, have terribly easy access to guns. I don't know that we have come away from these horrors knowing any more about ourselves as a nation or as a world, and I don't know that we have learned any more about what causes people to take a gun to a school and start shooting. There are so many factors involved it would be a fruitless, futile task to try and narrow down any one particular reason. There are no reasons. There are millions.

The families of both Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold have declined to speak with the media about their children, and have quietly endured the scrutiny of their personal lives and parenting skills. A family friend of the Harrises said in a letter to a newspaper, "Ultimately, children make their own decisions - good, bad, devastating - but they make them. We are all one bullet and one pipe bomb away from the agony of Wayne and Kathy Harris. Don't judge them too quickly.'' A fellow Colorado resident who knew both the Harris and Klebold families was quoted in the Denver Post as having said, "[Eric and Dylan] were raised in loving families that built their lives around their kids, and it happened to them. Think of the horror of that.''

Think of the horror of all of it.





Lauren Townsend, 18 - Rachel Scott, 17 - Kyle Velasquez, 16


John Tomlin, 16 - Cassie Bernall, 17 - Daniel Mauser, 15


William "Dave" Sanders, 47 - Corey DePooter, 17 - Isaiah Shoels, 18


Steven Curnow, 14 - Kelly Fleming, 16 - Matthew Kechter, 16 - Daniel Rohrbough, 15



Eric Harris, 18 - Dylan Klebold, 17




"The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently."

-Frederich Nietzsche, German Philosopher