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1999, Columbine: Truths and Myths
The Columbine massacre, a school shooting and attempted domestic terrorist bombing often referred to simply as Columbine, was perpetrated by students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.
In the immediate aftermath of the massacre, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were widely reported to be members of something called “the Trenchcoat Mafia,” a clique of outcast misfits and group of friends who were reportedly so named after one of their members mothers bought them a trench coat.
These reports began when the father of Eric Harris erroneously stated that Eric was "a member of what they call the Trenchcoat Mafia" in a call he made to 911 on the day of the shooting.
Harris and Klebold were outcast misfits who were reportedly bullied and often wore trench coats, so it was easy to believe they were part of group of outcast misfits who rebelled against the popular students and called themselves “the Trenchcoat Mafia.”
This turned out not to be true; neither Harris nor Klebold had any real affiliation with the group, and they do not appear in the group's 1998 Columbine High yearbook photo.
Harris and Klebold were friends with a few members of the group, namely Kristin Thiebault and Chris Morris, but most of the Trench Coat Mafia had graduated and left the school for good by the time that Harris and Klebold committed the Columbine massacre.
Chris Morris had a part-time job at the local Blackjack Pizza restaurant, where he helped Harris get a job the summer after sophomore year. Harris in turn got Klebold a part-time job working with him as a cook, and Harris was a good enough employee that he was eventually promoted to shift leader.
Harris tried to recruit Chris Morris into the Columbine plot as a but played the whole thing off as a joke when Morris said no. In the months leading up to the attacks, Harris was also experimenting with napalm, and tried to get Chris Morris to store the napalm at his house. Morris refused.
Klebold once terrified coworkers at Blackjack Pizza by bringing a pipe bomb into work with him. In the execution of search warrants following the massacre, two pipe bombs were found in Klebold's bedroom with names written on them, one named "Vengeance," pictured below, and another named "Atlanta", presumably after the Centennial Olympic Park bombing on July 27, 1996.
In the months leading up to the shooting, Harris and Klebold procured two 9mm firearms and two 12-gauge shotguns to use in their plot. On November 22, 1998, their friend Robyn Anderson purchased a 9mm Hi Point Carbine Rifle along with the two shotguns at the Tanner Gun Show.
She did this as a personal favor since they were too young to legally purchase the guns themselves, and she told investigators that she was under the impression that the weapons were for target shooting and she had no prior knowledge of their plans.
Harris's shotgun was sawed-off to around 26 inches. Klebold shortened his to 23 inches, a felony under the National Firearms Act, which makes it illegal for a private citizen to possess a shotgun with an overall length of under 26 inches.
Through Philip Duran, another coworker at Blackjack Pizza, Klebold bought a TEC-9 handgun at a gun show on January 23, 1999 from Mark Manes for $500. He also bought accessories for the gun, including ammunition magazines, a holster and a case.
Mark Manes also reportedly told Klebold and Harris both to keep their shotguns out of sight, as he realized they were too short to be lawful. Mark Manes, Manes' girlfriend Jessica Miklich, and Philip Duran are all in the Rampart Range video.
Released in 2003 by Jefferson County Sheriff's officials in the wake of calls from the Columbine Open Records Task Force to release more about the shooting, the Rampart Range video was shot on March 6, 1999 and shows Harris and Klebold practicing with the same weapons they would use in the massacre in the nearby foothills known as Rampart Range.
After the massacre, Mark Manes and Philip Duran were both charged with supplying a handgun to a minor and possession of a sawed-off shotgun. Manes was sentenced to six years, Duran to four-and-a-half years in prison. In exchange for her cooperation with the investigation that followed the shootings, no charges were filed against Robyn Anderson.
Harris and Klebold both carried knives on the day of the shooting, but it is not believed that they used them. Harris had a dagger on his belt and a long knife taped to the back of his ankle, while Klebold had a "Cobra" knife on his belt as well as a spring assisted pocket knife in his right pocket.
In addition to the firearms and knives, plans for the attack involved several explosive devices, such as propane tanks converted into bombs. The bombs were very crudely made, and the large propane tank bombs were made at the last minute, which may be why they all failed, though a lot of their pipe bombs failed to detonate as well.
Harris and Klebold also built a total of 99 incendiary devices, varied in design including devices made from carbon dioxide canisters, filled with gunpowder (called “crickets”), galvanized pipe covered in shrapnel (pipe bombs), and glass bottle’d molotov cocktails.
For easy ignition, the various devices were primed with matches and they taped match strikers taped to their sleeves; when they rubbed the strikers taped onto their arms against the bombs, the match heads lit the fuse.
The weekend before the shooting, Harris and Klebold Harris and Klebold worked their final shift at Blackjack Pizza on Friday, April 16, four days before the Columbine massacre. The morning of the attack, they bought six more propane tanks; Harris was caught on a Texaco gas station security camera buying a propane tank at 9:12 a.m.
The car bombs were constructed from two 20-pound propane tanks, and pipe bombs along with containers full of gasoline were also spread throughout the vehicles, eight pipe bombs in Klebold's car, and one in Harris' car.
Propane tank bombs were also placed in the cafeteria, and one was left as a diversion in a greenbelt field near South Wadsworth Boulevard and Ken Caryl Avenue. Only two of these bombs went off, and both were only partial detonations as the ignition device failed. One used an analog alarm clock as a detonation timer.
The bomb that was planted as a diversion on the corner of South Wadsworth Boulevard and Ken Caryl Avenue and one of the bombs placed in the cafeteria partially detonated, causing small, highly localized fires, and minimal damage.
It has been speculated that if either of the bombs placed in the cafeteria had detonated as intended, the blast would have damaged the building’s structural members, potentially collapsing the library into the cafeteria, resulting in hundreds of additional casualties and injuries among the 488 students in the cafeteria.
Harris' website contained explicit instructions on making effective molotov cocktails and pipe bombs, and detailed the necessity of the extensive use of shrapnel to inflict maximum damage.
A friend of Eric Harris claimed that Wayne Harris, Erics’ father, discovered a pipe bomb in his son's bedroom in the months before the Columbine High massacre; a lawsuit later alleged that Wayne Harris found a pipe bomb made by Eric Harris and detonated it in an empty field more than a year before the massacre.
The Harris family vehemently denied these allegations, but both the Harris and Klebold families settled the lawsuits filed against them. The Harrises and the Klebolds contributed $1,568,000 (from their homeowners' insurance policies) to a $2,538,000 settlement in 2001. In August 2003, the families of five other victims received undisclosed settlements from the Harrises and Klebold’s.
Harris and Klebold intended for the cafeteria bombs to detonate during the busiest lunch period, hoping to kill hundreds of students in the process, after which they would shoot and stab survivors, as well as throw bombs, as victims fled the school.
The bombs in their cars were intended to detonate after police responded to the scene, possibly killing more students as well as any police officers, paramedics, firemen, or reporters mingling in the parking lot. These bombs all failed to detonate.
Two backpacks filled with pipe bombs, aerosol canisters, and small propane bombs were placed in a field near an intersection about 3 miles south of Columbine High, and 2 miles south of the fire station.
These were intended as a diversion to draw firefighters and emergency personnel away from the school, an effort that basically entirely failed. Only the pipe bombs and one of the aerosol canisters detonated, causing a small fire which was quickly extinguished by the fire department.
Much speculation has occurred over the date chosen for their attack. The original intended date of the attack may have actually been April 19; although he had been stockpiling ammunition for months, Harris had to pester Mark Manes for more, and Manes did not deliver the ammo he asked for until the evening of April 19.
It is unknown if they delayed their plans as a result; there is evidence to suggest they were influenced by the Oklahoma City Bombing, which took place on April 19th, but there is little in their notes that indicates any specific date.
For instance, in Harris' journal, he wrote on April 19, 1999, "We are going to do it tomorrow," which is ambiguous about whether or not this was the intent through the entirety of their planning or if they were delayed a day.
In either event, on Tuesday morning, April 20, 1999, Harris and Klebold placed two duffel bags in the cafeteria, each containing the propane bombs which were intended to detonate during the "A" lunch period, which began at 11:15 a.m.
No witnesses remember the duffel bags being added to the backpacks that were already in the cafeteria and the security cameras did not see the bags being placed in the cafeteria, either. A custodian was changing out the videotape in the security monitor station at around 11:14 a.m. and police have speculated that the bombs were placed during this "tape change", though they did also investigate the possibility that the duffel bags were placed during the "after-prom" party held the weekend before.
Some internet investigators have claimed that Harris and Klebold can be seen on cafeteria surveillance video at around 10:58 a.m. planting the bombs in casual school clothes, but this writer was unable to verify this claim. If you’ve got 3 hours and 33 minutes to spare, you can check out the cafeteria surveillance video for yourself below; 10:57a.m. is at about the 23:20 mark.
Incidentally, the cameras in the cafeteria were the only surveillance cameras to capture the events at Columbine. There were no cameras in the library; some YouTubers have posted footage claiming it’s from the Columbine library, but the footage is actually from a film inspired by Columbine called Zero Day. The footage below is the only genuine Columbine security footage.
The leading theory based on the notes they left behind is that Harris and Dylan planned to shoot survivors as they fled into the parking lot, but when the first bombs failed to go off, they moved to the staircase on the hill at the west side.
Jefferson County Sheriff's Deputy Neil Gardner was assigned to the high school as a full-time school resource officer. He usually ate lunch in the cafeteria with students, but on April 20 he was eating in his patrol car at the northwest corner of the campus instead, watching students smoke and congregate in Clement Park, a large meadow playground adjacent to the school.
Harris and Klebold changed clothes and returned to Columbine separately. Harris parked his vehicle in the junior student parking lot, and Klebold parked in the adjoining senior student parking lot. As Harris walked through the parking lot, he ran into fellow student Brooks Brown, with whom he had recently made up, patching up a long series of petty personal disputes.
Harris had at one time relied on Brown for rides to and from school. Brown was often late, which drove Harris crazy, and finally, after one particularly difficult argument the previous winter, Brown told Harris he would never give him a ride again.
A few days later, at a stop sign by Eric Harris’ bus stop, Harris shattered Brown’s windshield by throwing a chunk of ice at the car. Furious about his car, Brown cut off his friendship with Harris, who retaliated by threatening Brown on his webpage. Brown’s parents reported this to the police, who let the case fall between the cracks.
According to Brown, who was smoking a cigarette outside during lunch, he was surprised to see Harris pull into the parking lot, as he had noticed Harris was been absent from a philosophy test in a class they shared.
Brown made a comment to Harris about missing the test, and Harris replied, "It doesn't matter anymore. Brooks, I like you now. Get out of here. Go home."
Brown, feeling uneasy and already planning to skip his next class, walked away down South Pierce Street. Like many other students that day, when he first began hearing gunshots a few minutes later, he initially thought someone was pulling a prank.
Brown heard the first gunshots around 11:19 a.m., after he had walked some distance away from the school. When he realized what he was hearing, he began running from door to door, attempting to find a phone he could use, and he was eventually able to inform the police about his encounter via a neighbor's cell phone.
Meanwhile, Harris and Klebold had armed themselves, using straps and webbing to conceal their weapons beneath their trench coats, carrying heavy bags with bombs and ammunition in them. Harris concealed his shotgun in one of the bags. Beneath the trench coats, Harris wore a military bandolier and a white T-shirt with the inscription "Natural Selection" in black letters, a kind of psychopathic mantra he had adopted; Klebold wore a black T-shirt with "Wrath" in red letters.
At 11:19 a.m., 17-year-old Rachel Scott and her friend Richard Castaldo were having lunch, sitting on the grass next to the west entrance of the school. Klebold threw a pipe bomb towards the parking lot; the bomb only partially detonated, and all it did was give off smoke. Castaldo thought it was a senior prank; several students thought they were witnessing a prank.
A witness reported hearing "Go! Go!" moments before Rachel Scott was killed. She was hit four times with rounds fired from Harris's carbine; once in the left temple. Castaldo was shot eight times in the chest, arm, and abdomen by both Harris and Klebold; he fell to the ground, unconscious and paralyzed from the chest down.
Klebold's TEC-9 jammed after the second round, and he was forced to fix it, which he did by ejecting the magazine and stuffing a new magazine into it. Harris took off his trenchcoat, and aimed his carbine down the west staircase, looking in the direction of three students: Daniel Rohrbough, Sean Graves, and Lance Kirklin.
Harris fired off ten rounds, killing Rohrbough and badly injuring Graves and Kirklin. William David Sanders, a teacher and coach at the school, was in the cafeteria when he recognized the sound of gun shots and began warning students to run and hide.
Around this time, the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office was notified of an explosion at 11:21 a.m. after the diversionary bomb partially detonated on the greenbelt field near the 7900 block of South Wadsworth Boulevard. They found two backpacks containing multiple explosive devices; only a few of the devices had partially exploded, failing to trigger the others.
Harris turned and fired seven shots at students sitting on the hillside adjacent to the steps, opposite the west entrance of the school; Michael Johnson was hit in the face, leg, and arm but ran and escaped; Mark Taylor was shot in the chest, arms, and leg and fell to the ground, where he played dead; the other three managed to escape uninjured.
Klebold walked down the steps towards the cafeteria, taking a shot at the body of Dan Rohrbough with his shotgun, and then came upon Lance Kirklin, already wounded and lying on the ground, calling out for help.
Klebold said, "Sure. I'll help you," then shot Kirklin in the jaw with his shotgun. Amazingly, Kirklin survived, and says he feels fine now; he credits psychological treatment for helping him deal with the emotional toll of the shooting.
Graves, who was paralyzed from the waist down, crawled into the doorway of the cafeteria and collapsed, rubbing his own blood on his face to play dead.
After shooting Kirklin, Klebold stepped over Graves to enter the cafeteria, and Graves remembers Klebold saying, "Sorry, dude." Klebold entered the cafeteria only briefly to check on the propane bombs while Harris remained on top of the stairs, still shooting; he partially paralyzed 17-year-old Anne-Marie Hochhalter as she tried to flee.
Klebold went back up the stairs to join Harris. They each shot once at students standing close to a soccer field but did not hit anyone. They walked toward the west entrance, throwing pipe bombs in several directions, including onto the roof; only a few of these pipe bombs detonated.
Witnesses heard one of them say, "This is what we always wanted to do. This is awesome!" Meanwhile, art teacher Patti Nielson was still deep inside the school; she had heard the commotion and walked toward the west entrance of the school with student Brian Anderson, thinking students were filming a video or pulling a prank.
As Anderson opened the first set of double doors, Klebold and Harris opened fire, shooting out the windows and injuring Anderson with flying glass and Nielson with shrapnel; both Anderson and Nielson ran back down the hall into the library, where Nielson told students to get under the desks and be silent.
Nielson herself then hid under the library's administrative counter. Anderson fell to the floor, bleeding, and crawled into the magazine room to hide, basically a large closet adjacent to the library.
At 11:22 a.m., a custodian called Deputy Neil Gardner, the assigned resource officer to Columbine, on the school radio, requesting assistance in the senior parking lot. The only paved route took him around the school to the east and south on Pierce Street, where at 11:23 a.m., he heard on his police radio that a female was down; he thought that meant she had been struck by a car until he was getting out of his patrol car in the senior lot at 11:24, and he heard another call come over the radio, "Neil, there's a shooter in the school."
At the same time from the west entrance, Harris turned and fired ten shots towards Gardner, who was about 60 yards away on the other side of his police cruiser. As Harris reloaded, Gardner leaned over his car, aimed his service pistol at Harris, and fired four rounds.
Harris ducked back behind the building, and Gardner briefly believed he had a hit, but Harris re-emerged from cover, firing several more rounds at Gardner before retreating into the building for cover again.
In a pattern that would repeat multiple times that day, no one at all was hit during this exchange of gunfire between the shooters and the police. Gardner called over the police radio, "Shots fired in the building. I need someone in the south lot with me."
Harris and Klebold entered the school’s main north hallway near the west entrance, throwing pipe bombs and shooting at anyone they saw. Klebold shot Stephanie Munson in the ankle, but she was still able to escape the school to safety.
After proceeding up and down the hall several times, shooting at any students they saw, they shot out the windows to the east entrance of the school, then went toward the west entrance, turning into the library hallway.
Deputies Paul Smoker and Paul Magor, motorcycle patrolmen for the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, were writing a traffic ticket north of the school when a "female down" call came in at around 11:23 a.m.
They drove their motorcycles over the grass between the athletic fields and headed toward the west entrance of the school; Deputies Scott Taborsky, Rick Searle, and Kevin Walker joined in behind them in their patrol cars, and the first two officers abandoned their motorcycles for the safety of the car.
The six deputies started their rescue efforts with two wounded students near the ball fields when Harris returned to the double doors at about 11:26, firing off shots at Deputy Gardner, who again returned fire.
Deputy Smoker also fired three rounds from his service pistol at Harris, who again retreated to cover in the building. As before, no one was hit in the exchange.
Inside the school cafeteria, Dave Sanders and custodians Jon Curtis and Jay Gallatine, initially told students to get under the tables. As the situation unfolded, they evacuated students up the staircase that led from the cafeteria to the second floor of the school.
Sanders then headed up behind them to secure as much of the school as he could. The stairs terminated around the corner from the library hallway in the main south hallway.
Sanders was with a student at the end of the library hallway, where he was gesturing for students in the library to stay where they were, when they noticed Harris and Klebold approaching from the corner of the north hallway. Both Sanders and the student turned to ran in the opposite direction. Harris and Klebold opened fire down the hallway, hitting Sanders twice in the back and neck, with the bullet hitting his teeth on exit.
They missed the student, who ran into a science class, frantically warning everyone to hide. Klebold walked over towards Sanders, who had collapsed on the ground, tossed a pipe bomb, then returned to Harris up the library hallway.
Sanders struggled to crawl toward the science area, where a fellow teacher dragged him into a classroom where up to 30 students were sheltering. Despite the chaos and horror around them, teachers managed to bring student Aaron Hancey into the class from another class room to help Sanders, due to his knowledge of first aid.
With the assistance of both a fellow student, Kevin Starkey, and teacher Theresa Miller, Hancey gave Sanders first aid for three hours straight, using shirts collected from other students in the room as impromptu bandages, and using pictures Sanders had in his wallet to keep him alert. Miller and the students used the class phone to maintain contact with police outside the school.
Patti Nielson called 911 after taking cover under the library admin desk. According to emergency transcripts, her call was received at 11:25:18 a.m.
At 11:29 a.m., Harris and Klebold entered the library for the first time. Fifty-two students, two teachers and two librarians were sheltered in place inside. When Klebold and Harris entered, Harris yelled "GET UP!" loud enough to be heard on the 911 call. When no one got up, Harris yelled, "Fine! I'll start shooting anyway!"
The gunmen stalked deeper into the library, towards the two rows of computers. At the north row of computers was disabled student Kyle Velasquez; Klebold fired his shotgun at Velasquez, hitting Kyle in the back and the head.
They put their duffel bags down at the southern row of computers, pausing to reload, then walked between the rows of computers toward the windows.
Harris fired his shotgun twice at a desk; student Evan Todd had been standing near a pillar when the shooters entered the library and had just taken cover behind a photocopier. When Harris shot at the desk, Todd was hit by wood splinters - in the eye and lower back - but was not seriously injured.
During their massacre in the library, Klebold and Harris made comments about how long they had been waiting for this, shouting celebratory things like "Woo!" after shooting people. While ordering the jocks to stand up, one of them, "Anybody with a white hat or a sports emblem on it is dead."
Wearing a white baseball cap at Columbine was a tradition among sports team members.
At the windows, they fired through them in the direction of recently arrived police, who returned fire; no one was hit in the exchange. Klebold took his trench coat off, then fired his shotgun at a nearby table, injuring three students: Patrick Ireland, Daniel Steepleton, and Makai Hall.
Harris walked toward the southern row of computer desks with his shotgun, got down on one knee, and fired under the first desk. He hit 14-year-old Steven Curnow in the neck, then moved to an adjacent computer desk, injuring 17-year-old Kacey Ruegsegger with a shot which passed completely through her right shoulder, grazing her neck, and severing a major artery. When she gasped aloud in pain, Harris reportedly told her, "Quit your bitching."
Harris then walked to a table south of the southern row of computers, with two students sheltered underneath: Cassie Bernall and Emily Wyant. Harris slapped the surface of the table twice as he knelt, and said "Peek-a-boo" before shooting Bernall once in the head with the shotgun, killing her instantly.
Harris was holding the shotgun with one hand, and when it recoiled, it hit him in the face, injuring his nose. He told Klebold, and Klebold responded "Why'd you do that?"
After shooting Bernall, Harris turned toward the next table, where Bree Pasquale was sitting on the floor next to the table instead of hiding underneath it. Harris's nose was bleeding and he had blood around his mouth from being hit in the face with his own shotgun.
Harris asked Pasquale if she wanted to die, and she begged for her life. Harris laughed and responded "Everyone's gonna die." When Klebold said "shoot her," Harris responded "No, we're gonna blow up the school anyway."
Klebold noticed Ireland trying to provide aid to Hall, and as Ireland tried to help, his head cleared the top of the table, and Klebold shot him a second time, hitting him twice in the head and once in the foot. Ireland was knocked unconscious but amazingly, survived.
Klebold then walked toward another table, where he discovered 18-year-old Isaiah Shoels, 16-year-old Matthew Kechter, and 16-year-old Craig Scott (Rachel's younger brother), hiding underneath. Klebold called out that he “found a nigger" and tried to pull Shoels out from under the table.
Harris left Pasquale and joined him. According to witnesses, they taunted Shoels for a few seconds, making derogatory racial remarks, and then both of them fired their guns under the table; Harris shot Shoels, killing him, and Klebold shot Kechter, killing him.
Shoels was not shot in the head, but Klebold remarked: "I didn't know black brains could fly that far." Scott was uninjured, lying in the blood of his friends, pretending that he was dead. Harris yelled, "Who's ready to die next?!"
He turned and threw a "cricket" at the table where Hall, Steepleton, and Ireland had been sitting, which landed on Steepleton's thigh; Hall picked it up and tossed it behind them, and it exploded mid-air.
Harris walked toward some bookcases, jumped on one and shook it, apparently attempting to topple it, then shot at the books that fell off of it.
Klebold walked to the east side of the library and Harris walked over to meet Klebold. Klebold shot at a display case next to the door, then turned and shot toward the closest table, hitting 17-year-old Mark Kintgen in the head and shoulder, injuring him.
He then turned toward the table to his left and fired, injuring 18-year-olds Lisa Kreutz, Lauren Townsend, and Valeen Schnurr with the same shotgun blast. Klebold walked toward the same table and fired several shots with the TEC-9, killing Townsend.
Valeen Schnurr, seriously injured, began screaming, "Oh, my God! Oh, my God!" Klebold asked Schnurr if she believed in God; when Schnurr replied that she did, Klebold asked "Why?" before adding "God is gay," reloading his gun, and walking away from the table.
Townsend was by far the victim shot the most times; this, along with his journal, has led some to speculate that much of Dylan Klebold’s rage was from feelings of sexual inadequacy; others have speculated that Townsend may have been his secret crush and perhaps even rejected him.
The pseudonym "Harriet" was used in Dave Cullen’s Columbine to refer to the female Columbine student mentioned in Klebold’s journal entries, with whom he was obsessively in love.
Harris approached another table where two girls were hiding, bent down to look at them, and dismissed them as "pathetic", then moved to another table where he fired twice, injuring 16-year-olds Nicole Nowlen and John Tomlin. Tomlin moved out from under the table and Klebold shot him repeatedly, killing him.
Harris then walked back over to the other side of the table where Townsend had been killed. Behind the table, 16-year-old Kelly Fleming was shot by Harris with his shotgun, hitting her in the back, killing her.
He also shot at the table behind Fleming, wounding 18-year-old Jeanna Park, before he and Klebold moved to the center of the library, where they reloaded their weapons at a table.
Harris then pointed his carbine under a table, but the student he was aiming at moved out of the way, and Harris told him to identify himself.
It was John Savage, an acquaintance of Klebold's. He asked Klebold what they were doing, to which he shrugged and answered, "Oh, just killing people." Savage asked if they were going to kill him. Due to noise, Klebold didn’t hear him, and said, "What?"
Savage asked again whether they were going to kill him, and Klebold said no, and told him to run, which he did, escaping through the library's main entrance and out through the cafeteria.
After Savage left the library, Harris fired his carbine at the table just north of where Savage had been, hitting 15-year-old Daniel Mauser in the ear and the hand. Mauser retaliated, either by shoving a chair at Harris or possibly grabbing his leg; Harris fired again, hitting Mauser in the face at point blank range, killing him.
Harris then moved south, firing three shots under another table, injuring 17-year-olds Jennifer Doyle and Austin Eubanks. Klebold then shot and fatally wounded 17-year-old Corey DePooter. After the 11:35 shootings of Doyle, Eubanks, and DePooter, there were no further victims. Klebold was quoted saying they might start knifing people, but they never did.
They headed towards the library's administrative counter, and Harris threw a molotov cocktail toward the other end of the library; like so many of the bombs they made, it failed to explode.
Klebold pulled the chair out from a desk, then pointed his TEC-9 at Evan Todd, who was hiding underneath it, wearing a white hat. Klebold asked if he was a jock, and when Todd said no Klebold responded "Well, that's good. We don't like jocks."
Klebold then demanded to see his face; Todd partly lifted his hat so his face would remain obscured. Klebold asked Todd to give him a reason why he shouldn’t kill him, and Todd said: "I don't want trouble." Klebold responded, "Trouble? You don't even know what trouble is!"
Todd corrected himself, saying, "That's not what I meant! I mean, I don't have a problem with you guys. I never will and I never did." Klebold then told Harris he was going to let Todd live, but that Harris could kill him if he wanted to. Harris responded that he and Klebold should head to the cafeteria.
While Harris was walking away, Klebold fired into an open library staff break room, hitting a small television, said, "One more thing!", then picked up the chair beside the library counter under which Patti Nielson was still hiding, and slammed the chair down on the computer terminal that sat atop the library counter.
Klebold then joined Harris at the library entrance and they walked out of the library together around 11:36. Survivors cautiously began to evacuate the library through the north emergency exit door; Kacey Ruegsegger was evacuated from the library by Craig Scott, and likely would have bled to death from her injuries if she hadn’t been.
Patrick Ireland, unconscious, and Lisa Kreutz, conscious but unable to move, remained in the library along with Patti Nielson, who crawled into the break room which Klebold had earlier fired shots into, hiding herself in a small cupboard.
After leaving the library, Harris and Klebold entered the science area, where they caused a fire in an empty storage closet that was extinguished by a teacher who was hidden in an adjacent room. They then proceeded toward the south hallway, where they shot into an empty science room.
At 11:44 a.m., they appear on school security cameras re-entering the cafeteria, Harris crouching against the rail on the staircase, firing toward the propane bombs left in the cafeteria in an unsuccessful attempt to get them to detonate.
Klebold approached the propane bomb, examining it as Harris drinks from one of the cups left behind by a student in the chaos. Klebold lit a molotov cocktail and threw it at the propane bomb, igniting the gallon or so of gasoline attached to the bomb, causing a fire intense enough that it melted chairs in the cafeteria before it was extinguished by the fire sprinklers a few minutes later. They left the cafeteria at 11:46.
Back in the main hallways of the school, they fired several shots into walls and ceilings as students and teachers continued to hide. At 11:56, they returned to the cafeteria, and briefly entered the school kitchen, before returning up the staircase to re-enter the library, which was now completely empty of survivors except for Patrick Ireland, coming in and out of consciousness badly wounded, and student Lisa Kreutz, who was unable to move after being repeatedly shot.
It is believed Klebold and Harris returned to the library to watch their car bombs detonate, which was supposed to happen at noon. When this did not happen, around 12:02 p.m., Harris and Klebold went to the west windows and again opened fire on the police outside. No one was injured in the exchange.
By 12:05, all gunfire from the school had ceased. Klebold and Harris walked to the bookshelves near the table where Patrick Ireland lay badly wounded, coming in and out of consciousness.
Harris sat down with his back to a bookshelf and fired his shotgun through the roof of his mouth. Just before shooting himself, Klebold lit a molotov cocktail on a nearby table, underneath which Ireland was lying, which caused the tabletop to catch fire.
Klebold knelt down and shot himself in the left temple with his TEC-9. By 12:08 p.m., both gunmen were dead by their own hands. An article by The Rocky Mountain News stated that Patti Nielson overheard them shout "One! Two! Three!" in unison just before a loud boom, but Nielson later said that she had never spoken with either of the authors of the article.
A total of 329 rounds of ammunition were fired during the massacre. Harris fired his carbine rifle a total of 96 times, nearly twice as much as Klebold: 47 shots outside, 36 shots inside, and 13 shots in the library. Harris also discharged his shotgun 25 times: 21 times in the library and four times inside.
Klebold fired the TEC-9 handgun 55 times: three shots outside, 31 shots inside, and 21 shots in the library. Klebold also fired 12 rounds from his double-barreled shotgun: twice outside, four times inside, and six times in the library. Law enforcement officers fired 141 rounds.
Harris was responsible for eight of the thirteen confirmed deaths: Rachel Scott, Daniel Rohrbough, teacher Dave Sanders, Steve Curnow, Cassie Bernall, Isaiah Shoels, Kelly Fleming, and Daniel Mauser.
Klebold was responsible for the remaining five: Kyle Velasquez, Matthew Kechter, Lauren Townsend, John Tomlin, and Corey DePooter. There were also 24 total injured, most of whom were in critical condition.
In 2002, the National Enquirer published photos of Harris and Klebold dead on the floor of the library. Klebold's gun is underneath his body and difficult to see in the photo, which lead to speculation that Harris shot Klebold before killing himself.
However, some of Klebold's blood was on Harris's legs, and also, a piece of Harris's brain matter was under the material burned on the table by Klebold’s Molotov cocktail, suggesting Harris had already shot himself when Klebold lit the table on fire.
Two SWAT teams entered the school at 1:09, moving from classroom to classroom, discovering hidden pockets of students and faculty as they went. At 2:15 p.m., students caring for teacher Dave Sanders put a sign up in the window: "1 bleeding to death", in order to alert emergency personnel of Sanders' situation in the science room.
Police initially feared it was a ruse by the shooters; at 2:30 p.m., a shirt tied to the doorknob convinced them it wasn’t, and by 2:40p.m., SWAT evacuated the room and called for paramedics.
Patrick Ireland regained and lost consciousness several times after being shot by Klebold. Paralyzed on his right side, he somehow crawled to the library windows where, on live television at 2:38 p.m., he stretched out the window, intending to fall into the arms of two SWAT team members standing on the roof of an emergency vehicle.
He instead is allowed to fall directly onto the vehicle's roof in a pool of blood. Donn Kraemer and John Ramoniec, the SWAT team members, were later criticized for allowing Ireland to drop more than seven feet to the hard metal roof of the vehicle while doing little to ensure he could do so safely. He became known as "the Boy in the Window."
By 3:00 p.m., SWAT officers had moved Sanders to a storage room, which was more easily accessible. A paramedic arrived and found Sanders had no pulse. He was the only teacher to die in the shooting.
Lisa Kreutz, shot in the shoulder, arms, hand, and thigh, remained in the library. She tried to move but became light-headed, and kept herself occupied by keeping track of time by the sound of the school's bells until police arrived. Kreutz was finally evacuated at 3:22 p.m., along with Patti Nielson, Brian Anderson, and three library staff members who had hidden in rooms adjacent to the library.
By 4:00 p.m., Sheriff John P. Stone said that police officers were searching the bodies of the gunmen cautiously, fearing they had used bombs to booby-trap corpses, including their own.
At 4:30 p.m., the school was declared safe by police. At 5:30 p.m., more explosives were found in the parking lot and on the roof. Additional officers were called in.
At 6:15, over an hour and a half after the school was declared safe, police found a bomb in Klebold's car in the parking lot. Sheriff Stone then marked the entire school as a crime scene and the bomb squad disarmed the car bomb. Klebold's car was repaired and, in 2006, put up for auction.
Meanwhile, families of students and staff were asked to gather at nearby Leawood Elementary School. Some of the victims' families were told to wait on a final school bus that never came, and some found out their children were dead from the news.
At 10:40 p.m., a member of the bomb squad, attempting to dispose of an un-detonated pipe bomb, accidentally set one off by brushing it against the wall of the ordnance disposal trailer, causing the bomb to detonate inside of the trailer. No one was injured.
On the morning of April 21, the bomb squad thoroughly searched the high school and at 10:00 a.m. the bomb squad declared the building safe for officials to enter. The next day, on April 22, bombs are discovered in the cafeteria.
The total count of deaths was 12 students (14 including the shooters) and one teacher; an additional 20 students and one teacher were injured as a result of the shootings. Three more victims were injured indirectly as they tried to escape the school.
Makeshift memorials were created after the massacre, including ones employing victims Rachel Scott's car and John Tomlin's truck. On April 30, carpenter Greg Zanis erected fifteen 6-foot-tall wooden crosses to honor those who had died at the school.
There was controversy over whether Harris and Klebold should be memorialized. Atop a hill near Columbine High School in nearby Clement Park, crosses were erected for Harris and Klebold along with those for the people they killed, but the father of victim Daniel Rohrbough argued that murderers should not be memorialized in the same place as victims.
The crosses for Harris and Klebold were later removed by Daniel Rohrbough's father, who cut down the two meant for the gunmen. There were also fifteen trees planted, and he cut down two of those as well. A permanent memorial in Clement Park opened in September of 2007.
Six months after her daughter was paralyzed from the waist down in the shootings, Anne Marie Hochhalter's mother Carla Hochhalter killed herself by walking into a pawn shop, asking to see a 38 caliber revolver, secretly loading it with ammunition she brought into the store with her, and shooting herself in the head.
Carla Hochhalter left behind a note apologizing to her family, and was survived by her husband Ted, and her two children, Anne Marie and her brother Nathan, also a Columbine High student.
Several former students and teachers had PTSD. Greg Barnes, a 17-year-old student who had witnessed Sanders' shooting, committed suicide in May 2000. Survivor Austin Eubanks, who was injured during the shooting, became heavily medicated, developing an opioid addiction. Later speaking publicly about the addiction, Eubanks died from an accidental overdose in 2019 at the age of 37.
Sue Klebold, mother of Dylan Klebold, was initially in denial about Dylan’s involvement, believing he was tricked by Harris. Six months later, she saw the tapes the friends made and acknowledged that Dylan was equally responsible for the killings.
She wrote about Columbine publicly for the first time in an essay that appeared in the October 2009 issue of O: The Oprah Magazine writing, "For the rest of my life, I will be haunted by the horror and anguish Dylan caused", and "Dylan changed everything I believed about myself, about God, about family, and about love."
She had no advance clue of her son's intentions, she said, but "Once I saw his journals, it was clear to me that Dylan entered the school with the intention of dying there."
In Andrew Solomon's 2012 book Far from the Tree, she acknowledged that on the day of the massacre, when she discovered that Klebold was one of the shooters, she prayed he would kill himself, saying that she "had a sudden vision of what he might be doing, and so while every other mother in Littleton was praying that her child was safe, I had to pray that mine would die before he hurt anyone else."
Here’s a link to part 2 of this article