|High School Armageddon|
"After I mow down a whole area full of you snotty ass rich mother-fucker high strung God-like-attitude-having worthless pieces of shit whores, I don't care if I live or die." -- Eric Harris
BLACK TRENCH COATS
On 20 April, 1999 two students dressed in black trench coats, fatigues and ski-masks opened fire in a suburban high school in Littleton, Colorado, leaving 12 students and a teacher dead, and 23 wounded. Then, in a final act of defiance, Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, ended their own lives firing two final rounds to their heads.
Armed with 95 explosives devices, two sawed-off shotguns, a 9 mm Hi-Point carbine rifle and TEC-DC 9 semiautomatic pistol, the two chuckling killers set out on a carefully planned "suicide mission." The mayhem started a little after 11:17 AM, when two 25-pound propane bombs they had previously placed in the cafeteria failed to detonate. Not discouraged by their shoddy, homemade detonators, the two killers walked into the school, laughing and hollering, and started shooting at their fellow schoolmates with complete abandon.
For the next 16 minutes the rampagers moved through different areas of the school, starting in the cafeteria and ending in the upstairs library where the two maniacs inflicted most of the damage. Four and a half hours later, the school resembled a burnt-out war zone and the two rampagers were found dead in the library from self-inflicted gunshot wounds. Since then, the horrifying words "Pulling a Columbine" have been forever etched in the lexicon of the derranged.
Police said the trench coat killers left numerous homemade bombs with timers in and around the school, including the two original 25-pound propane and shrapnel bomb in the cafeteria. More explosive devices were found in their cars and homes. Days after the rampage, a third large incendiary device rigged with a barbecue propane tank was found in the school kitchen. Thankfully, like most of the other explosive devices they manufactured, the timer didn't work.
The high school, located in the community of Littleton, had just completed a $13.4 million remodel of its installations. Littleton is an affluent suburb of 65,000 in the outskirts of Denver. Like other recent cases of schoolyard massacres, the youthful gunmen were white, from affluent families, with internet connection, obsessed with violence and had easy access to high powered weapons. Columbine High has an enrollment of 1,870 students.
KILLINGS TOOK 16 MINUTES
"About 26.5 hours from now the judgement will begin. Difficult but not impossible, necessary, nerve-racking & 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." -- Dylan Klebold
The morning of the rampage, both teenagers had written to-do lists that included a little "chill" time as they prepared for the assault. Klebold ended his list saying, "When fir (sic) bombs go off, attack. have fun!" Harris ended his with the more ominous: " HAHAHA ." Remarkably, the youngsters also found time to go bowling before setting out to perpetrate the worst high school carnage in US history.
According to the timeline reconstructed in the massive, 11,000-page Columbine Report, Harris and Klebold first entered the school at 11:10 with the two 25-pound propane bombs hidden in two duffel bags. The idea was for the bombs to detonate at precisely 11:17, when at least half of the student body would be in the cafeteria. They hoped the explosions would inflict "maximum damage", killing between 250 and 500 schoolmates. When the bombs failed to detonate, they kicked in plan B. After slipping on their ski masks, they marched toward the school with their trench coats flapping and guns ablaze.
Seven minutes after firing the first shot, Harris exchanged fire with a school resource officer and entered the school building. Around the same time, the first Columbine police officer arrived at the scene. Four minutes after that, the killers reached the library where the worst carnage happened. In their first seven minutes in the library, the rampagers managed to kill ten students and wound fifteen.
The first 16 minutes of the rampage where the deadliest. After the library massacre, no one else was wounded or killed, except for the two rampagers. For half an hour the two predators pranced between the library and the cafeteria, admiring their handiwork and detonating more bombs. At around 12:05 the two youngster ended their lives with self-inflicted gunshots to the head. Three and a half hours later, SWAT officers reached the library and declared the killers dead. The following timeline is based on the one released by the Sheriff's Department on the Columbine Report
11:10 Both boys arrive to the school parking lot separately. Eric parks his 1986 Honda Civic in a space facing an entrance to the cafeteria. Dylan parks his 1982 black BMW in front of the other entrance.
11:14 Eric bumps into his friend, 18-year-old, Brooks Brown. He tells him: "Brooks, I like you. Now get out of here. Go home." Later Brown told Mark Eddy of the Denver Post, "I didn't think twice about it and went off to smoke my cigarette. Then I heard gunshots so I took off and started running."
11:15 The killer duo walks into the cafeteria carrying two large duffel bags with two bombs inside. They place the duffel bags on the floor next to a pillar in the center of the cafeteria and walk back out.
11:17 The two bombs are set to detonate at 11:17. Fortunately, they fail to explode. The terrible duo wait in their respective cars. From there, they plan to take out the surviving students as they escape from the explosions.
11:18 Previously, the boys set up two backpacks with pipe bombs, aerosol cans and a small propane tank in a field three miles from Columbine High. The timer of this bomb actually works and the diversionary explosion goes off as planned. Someone calls the Jefferson County 911 Dispatch Center and reports it.
11:19 This is when all hell breaks loose. Harris and Klebold toss a pipe bomb on to the school roof and march toward the school. They open fire on a group of five students having lunch on the grass outside, killing one, Rachel Scott, and injuring another. Student Don Arnold hears the first explosion and thinks it's prank until he sees bodies falling: "One boy was running and suddenly his ankle just puffed up in blood. A girl was running and her head popped open." Lindsay Hamilton, 15, heard one of the boys scream: "It's a good day to die!"
Three kids step out of the cafeteria for a smoke and are met with a hail of gunfire. All three -- Daniel Rohrbough, Sean Graves, and Lance Kirklin -- collapse. Klebold walks up to them and shoots at Daniel Rohrbough and Lance Kirklin at close range. Rohrbough dies instantly, Kirklin somehow survives.
11:22 The sheriff's office receives the first 911 call from Columbine High.
11:24 Harris joins Klebold on top of the stairs, next to an entrance leading to the cafeteria. They toss more bombs onto the school roof. Harris shoots student Anne Marie Hochhalter repeatedly as she stumbles down the stairs. "These guys opened fire on everything that looked human," said 16-year-old John Cook. One of the gunmen shouts: "This is awesome!"
11:26 School resource officer Neil Gardner fires at Harris. The boy takes cover inside the school. Leaning out of a broken window, Harris fires 10 rounds back at Gardner before his Hi-Point carbine rifle jams. Deputy Paul Smoker, who first responded to the diversionary explosion three miles away, arrives at the scene. He fires three rounds at Harris. Before the morning gunfight is over, police fire up to 144 rounds. According to Soldier of Fortune, the two terminators manage to squeeze out over 186 rounds.
11:27 Gardner calls for backup. He hears shots inside the school building. The two gun-toting freaks are in the hallway leading to the cafeteria firing at everyone and anything. Students run in all directions in sheer terror.
11:28 About 400 students in the cafeteria hear the gunfire outside. "Somebody said it was gunshots and that somebody had been shot." said 16-year-old Patrick Simington. "Then somebody else hollered for us to get under the tables." When the trench coat killers explode a bomb in the cafeteria, students stampede to the kitchen area and out of the cafeteria through whatever doors they can find.
Teacher Dave Sanders is shot twice in the upstairs hallway leading to the library. Sanders, 47, is able to crawl to the science area where his colleague, Richard Long, helps him to classroom SCI-3. "The door opened and Mr. Sanders runs in and starts coughing up blood," said 16-year-old Marjorie Lincoln. "He just poured blood and all the guys took off their T-shirts to fill up the hole."
Harris and Klebold reach the upstairs and pace up and down the library hallway, randomly shooting and throwing pipe bombs at no one in particular. By now smoke is spreading through the building and the fire alarm is blaring. There are kids everywhere, hiding in classes, locked inside bathrooms, or laying on the hallway with their face blown off. "It was like a war," said 17-year-old Brian Anderson, who suffered minor bullet wounds to his chest. "They weren't out to scare people. They were out to kill people."
11:29 The boys enter the library. Teacher Patti Nielson, who is on the phone with 911, ducks under her desk and somehow manages to crawl into an adjoining room and hide in a cupboard. Over the receiver the dispatcher hears a voice saying, "Get up!" This is Columbine's ground zero. In the next seven minutes, the terrible two-some fire 50 rounds and detonate several bombs. Of the 53 students in the library, 10 are killed and 15 wounded.
"They were going around asking people why they should let them live," said 15-year-old Evan Todd. "Once when they shot a black kid one of them said, 'Oh my god, look at this black kid's brain! Awesome man!' " On Columbine's day of reckoning, the jocks were called to the mat: "All jocks stand up! We're going to kill every one of you," Aaron Cohn recalled hearing.
"They were saying, 'Who's next? Who's ready to die?' " said Crystal Woodman. "And every time they'd shoot someone they'd holler like it was exciting." A girl who would not give her name said: "He put a gun to my head and asked if we all wanted to die and said that he was going to kill us if we were colored and if we had a hat and if we played sports. I started screaming and crying and telling him not to shoot me so he shot the girl in front of me in the head."
Nick Foss, 18, said: "I'd never seen anything like it in my life. I've never seen so many dead people... Kids were trying to crawl out through the ventilator shafts. They were looking for a place to hide and a way to safety."
11:37 They leave library and walk through the science area, shooting into empty rooms.
11:39 Police report a possible suspect on the roof. The man is later identified as a worker of a heating and air conditioning company fixing a leak above the girls' locker room.
11:44 The teen rampagers go to the cafeteria to try to explode the two 25-pound propane bombs. They fire several rounds at the propane tanks, but the bombs refuse to detonate. One witness hiding in the cafeteria hears one of the boys say, "Today the world's going to come to an end. Today's the day we die."
11:46 Klebold manages to start a fire in the cafeteria that activates the cafeteria's fire sprinkler system.
11:47 Denver's KMGH-TV Channel 7 broadcast the first news report of the attack.
11:55 The first SWAT team is ready to enter the building.
12:00 The boys return to the library upstairs. All other local television channels begin uninterrupted live coverage of the events.
12:02 The SWAT team uses a fire truck to provide cover as they approach the school. The kids hiding with the gravely wounded teacher, Dave Sanders, hold a sign out the window saying: "1 BLEEDING TO DEATH."
12:04 Students escape out a side door of the cafeteria. A television news helicopter begins broadcasting aerial images of the school.
12:05 Feeling they've done their job, the killer couple commits suicide. Harris uses a 12-gauge shotgun. Klebold uses the TEC-DC 9.
12:06 The first SWAT team enters the building.
12:15 A trapped student tells a 911 dispatcher that the two killers have committed suicide.
12:17 A boy is detained near Columbine High with an unloaded .22 Caliber rifle and a knife. According to the youngster, he heard about the shooting and thought he could help the police.
12:41 A second SWAT team arrives at the scene.
12:50 SWAT team snipers take position on nearby rooftops with clear views of the library windows and the cafeteria.
01:02 Police identify the shooters as Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.
01:09 The second SWAT team enters the teachers lounge. It's chaos inside: the fire alarm is blaring, the strobe lights are flashing and three inches of water is coming from under the cafeteria door.
01:15 Police arrive at the family homes of Harris and Klebold.
01:18 One SWAT team evacuates 30 students and faculty members from classrooms on the upper level.
01:22 A third SWAT team arrives at the scene.
01:32 The second SWAT team enters the cafeteria area. They evacuate students and staff from the teacher's lounge, kitchen area and storage areas. SWAT team members are warned by radio that the school might be booby trapped.
01:44 Three boys dressed in black show up in a field north of Columbine. They are quickly detained. The kids say they're the Splatter Punks and are just checking out the scene.
02:11 The SWAT teams receive pictures of Harris and Klebold.
02:33 President Clinton mentions the shooting at a scheduled news conference about the economy: "We all know there has been a terrible shooting at a high school in Littleton, Colorado. Because the situation, as I left to come out here, apparently is ongoing, I think it would be inappropriate for me to say anything other than I hope the American people will be praying for the students, the parents and the teachers and we'll wait for events to unfold and there will be more to say."
02:38 Patrick Ireland, who was shot in the library, slowly climbs out a second story window. Camera crews broadcast his descent nationwide as SWAT team members drive an armored vehicle under him to catch him when he lets go.
02:42 The first SWAT team reaches the gravely wounded Dave Sanders. They evacuate 60 students from the science area.
03:12 Sanders dies in the arms of a SWAT officer 30 minutes after being found.
03:25 Littleton Fire Department reports finding several live bombs and gasoline containers in Eric's home. The bomb squad is called and the rest of the neighborhood is evacuated.
03:30 SWAT officers enter the library and report 12 dead bodies on the floor.
03:32 Harris and Klebold are identified. Police find four adults hiding around the library.
03:55 The third SWAT team identifies the cars belonging to the suspects. Officers discover the black beamer is wired with a bomb.
04:00 Bomb technicians remove an explosive device from the Eric's home.
04:04 A Littleton fire captain enters the school and shuts off the fire alarms and the emergency sprinkler systems.
EQUAL OPPORTUNITY HATRED
"You know what I hate? Star Wars fans: get a friggin life, you boring geeks. You know what I hate? People who mispronounce words, like 'acrost,' and 'pacific' for 'specific,' and 'expresso' instead of 'espresso.' You know what I hate? People who drive slow in the fast lane, God these people do not know how to drive. You know what I hate? The WB network!!!! Oh Jesus, Mary Mother of God Almighty, I hate that channel with all my heart and soul." - Eric Harris
Nothing was going to stop these two maniacs from letting their equal opportunity hatred spill all over the floors of Columbine High. As we've seen through this book, high school has a brutally cruel pecking order, and Eric and Dylan were squarely at the bottom of it. "Our school is very status structured. People would yell comments to them, like weirdo or outcast," said Johnna Nelson, 17, a junior at Columbine. "They'd blow it off, but over and over, it must have had an effect."
The dynamic duo were particularly bitter over the treatment they endured from jocks. Traditionally, jocks are the more popular and well-adapted students in American high schools, but they can also be the most cruel and abusive toward their geekier classmates. In Columbine, the jocks zeroed in on the two rampagers with glee and abandon, making fun of their clothing and hair, and calling them fags and weirdos. "They were constantly insulted and harassed by other students," said 16-year-old Eric Veik. "I guess they finally decided not to take any more crap."
As usual, neighbors described the teenagers as a quiet and unassuming, but obviously something darker was brooding inside. Some students at Littleton described Eric and Dylan as "satanic individuals." Others said they were Goths and Marilyn Manson freaks. "I heard somebody saying they loved Marilyn Manson," commented their friend, Dustin Gorton. "They both hated Marilyn Manson. The people who are saying things like that didn't know them." In any case, while they might have shown a passing interest in the occult and even Marilyn Manson, their true Dark Lord was Adolf Hitler, not Belzebug.
The two Hitler-loving youths enjoyed talking in German and sporting swastikas on their clothes. Eric was described by classmates as someone who would show up to school wearing steel-toed combat boots and a German cross, like he was going to war. When the two went bowling and one would do something good, he would shout, 'Heil Hitler!' and throw up his hand. Not coincidentally, the school rampage was timed to coincide with Hitler's 110th birthday. Harris, in particular, fetishized anything German and of vintage World War II. Klebold, blond, Aryan-sized and imposing at 6-foot 4, fetishized BMWs and guns.
THE TRENCHCOAT MAFIA
"Killing enemies, blowing up stuff, killing cops!! My wrath for January's incident will be godlike. Not to mention our revenge in the commons." -- Dylan Klebold
Eric and Dylan liked wearing long, black trench coats like the ones worn by Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne in the sci-fi epic, The Matrix. Their trench coats, in a strange spin of media-directed info overload, somehow became the focus of worldwide attention. It was as if the choice of wardrobe by Littleton's kings of infamy was directly responsible for the bloodshed they perpetrated. Or was the media looking for a catchy keyword to signify everything evil behind the murderous teenagers and their senseless killings?
Fellow student Bob Sapin said the gunmen were part of a school clique called the "Trenchcoat Mafia." Another student, Jason Greer, called the killers and their friends "jerks" and said, "they are really strange." Sean Kelly, a 16-year-old junior, described the group as "kind of gothic. They are wearing dusters. They wear them every day, all black clothing." A female said: "They talk about Hitler a lot. They take a real pride in him. It's creepy." Thus, the stage was set for the lynch mob.
The media, in search of blood, alternately blamed the Internet, the computer game DOOM, Goth Rock, Marilyn Manson, KMFDM, The Basketball Diaries, Natural Born Killers, the German industrial metal band Rammstein and finally, the Trenchcoats. The press based the alleged Trench "call for apocalypse" on an innocuous reference found under a picture of a group of friends remembering good times in the 1998 Columbine High yearbook:
"Who says we are different? Insanity's healthy! Remember rocking parties at Kristen's, foosball at Joe's and fencing at Christopher's! Stay alive, stay different, stay crazy. Oh, and stay away from CREAM SODA!!! Love always, the chicks." -- The Trenchcoat Mafia
Soon, the Trench Mob was more feared than Al Capone, Jeffrey Dahmer and Adolf Hitler rolled into one. In less than 48 hours the Trenchcoaters were transformed from a loose group of misfits with a cute name who hung out at a particular spot in the school cafeteria, into an organized jock-hating, white-supremacist-ass-kicking, goth-rockin', swastika-wearing, web-designing, bomb-making, confederate-flag-wearing, Marilyn-Manson-loving, Vampire-role-playing, DOOM-addicted, wargame-freaking, Hitler-worshipping, gang of suburban terrorist youths.
As the veritable information tsunami about the Trenchcoats swept through online and traditional media, no one bothered to check the facts. Everyone -- from CNN to MSNBC to Matt Drudge to Tom Brokaw -- focused on half-truths and speculation to paint a picture of a killer "gang" of alienated youth running roughshod through Columbine High.
London's Telegraph led their coverage of the massacre with a story about the "gang affiliations" of Harris and Klebold, and their links to Satanism and neo-Nazi youth groups. The Telegraph then called the Trenchcoaters a "terrifying gang of Goth rockers" and portrayed them as a 21st Century Manson-like Family.
Further fueling the "mediatization" of the rampage, several fake Trenchcoat web sites popped out of nowhere, turning, once again, the Coats into the lead story in nightly news reports throughout the US. Eventually, the furor died, and the "Trenchcoat" became once again the "trench coat" -- a fashion statement for a group of kids at Columbine who didn't get along with "jocks."
ICH BIN EIN AUSLANDER
Member name: Eric Harris
More telling than any Trenchcoat conspiracy is Harris' AOL member profile -- "Quit whining. It's only a flesh wound. Kill em AALLLL!!!!" -- and his favorite chat room -- Ich Bin Ein Auslander, meaning I am an outsider.
Harris' web page, under the screen name Rebdomine, started with: "REB's words of wisdom, if you don't like it, ill kill you" The site, which was quickly taken down by the AOL brass, was filled with drawings of devils, guns and skulls. It also had instructions on how to make a bomb and a collection of stories and poems entitled: "The Written Works of the Trenchcoats." One of the stories, "The Trenchcoat Psychopath," is about an obsessed loner in a Trenchcoat driven to cleanse the world by killing jocks and other undesirables.
The day before the carnage, Harris, ignoring the potential penalties stipulated by the 1998 Digital Millennium Copyright Act, posted a medley of lyrics from three KMFDM song -- "Waste," "Stray Bullet" and "Son of a Gun" -- on the front page of the Rebdomine site.
"APOCALYPSE NOW - WALLS OF FLAME - BILLOWING SMOKE - WHO'S TO BLAME" -- KMFDM
KMFDM stands for Kein Mitleid für die Mehrheit, meaning "No Pity for the Majority." Though they bill themselves as a German industrial metal band, in reality the shock rockers turned out to be from Seattle and the German affectation was merely a promotion gimmick. Coincidentally (or not) the day of the rampage, besides being Hitler's birthday, was also the release date of their CD titled Adios.
The infamous Rebdomanie web site became part for a lawsuit against the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office when it was revealed that, more than a year before the rampage, the parents of one of their friends called the Sheriff's office and complained about the content of the site. On 18 March, 1998, Randy and Judy Brown, reported that Harris had posted on his web site death threats against their son and others. The parents also informed the Sheriffs that the young psychopath had detailed bomb-making instruction. The Sheriff's Department never investigated the allegations. Incidentally, Brooks Brown, the boy that was threatened, was the youngster who Eric told to go home the morning of the attack.
"It's my fault! Not my parents, not my brothers, not my friends, not my favorite bands, not computer games, not the media, it's mine." -- Eric Harris
The Lennon and McCartney of the teen killer set, Eric was the brains of the tandem, Dylan was the muscle. Eric was the leader, Dylan was the gullible stooge, follower. Eric, in his diary, in his internet site, in notes, essays, printouts, computer files and several videos, left a veritable trail of information explaining the motives behind the mayhem. Clearly, the high school assault was an act of revenge against Columbine High, its teachers, its abusive social order, and against the 1,870 students whom he considered inferior.
The diary, found in his room, was full of messages of across-the-board hate. In no uncertain terms, Eric chronicled how he and his friend were planning their massacre for over a year. "I'll go on my killing spree against anyone I want," he wrote two years before the rampage. Leaving nothing to chance, the killers made maps of the school and designed intricate hand signals to ensure a high bodycount.
Though the diary is still sealed by court order, enough flotsam and jetsam of his writing has been released to get a sense of Eric's vitriol and hatred against the world. In the diary, Eric wrote about how he, Reb (as in Rebel), and voDKa, Dylan, where different from their peers because they had self-awareness. For more than a year, he documented how much they wanted to extract revenge against those who he perceived had wronged them. "I'm full of hate and I love it," he proclaimed.
According to the diary, Eric and Dylan hatched the deadly plan for the school assault shortly after four popular athletes and another student from Columbine High were arrested for felony burglary. Eric was outraged when the boys were later let go with a mere slap on their wrist. This preferential treatment infuriated him and Dylan and, unlike their choice of music, movies or love for black trench coats, might have led to the massacre.
Through much of his writing, Eric talked about not fitting in and not being accepted. He reflected upon natural selection, self-awareness and his feelings of superiority. In page after page he plotted against jocks, the girls that ignored him, his fellow outcasts or anybody else who had somehow offended him. Anyone and anything, he hated. He hated "niggers, spics, Jews, gays, fucking whites," but then, he also hated the concept of racism. "You know what I hate? Racism. Anyone who hates Asians, Mexicans, or people of any race because they're different."
Eric wrote they were hoping for a "big kill" of at least 500 students. Then they would attack nearby homes, hijack a plane and -- in an eerie parallel to the events of 11 September -- crash it into New York City. "I suppose when you first hear it, you think that it's some horrible fantasy," District Attorney Dave Thomas told NBC's "Today" show. "But we now know that at least the first portion of those planned activities were in fact carried out... We also know that had a couple of the devices in the school actually detonated as they had planned, the death toll could have been much higher than it was."
"He was into combat more than anyone else I've ever seen," said his friend, Andrew Beard. In fact, he had applied to join the Marines. Five days before the massacre, Eric's application to the Marines Corps was rejected because had been taking the drug Luvox, an antidepressant. Luvox, which is often used to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder, is among other serotonin inhibiting substances that have been associated with explosive teenage behavior.
However, the Columbine attack was in no way an impulsive action. Nor could it be called a "cry for help" from a pair of depressed or confused teenagers. Eric and Dylan thoroughly and deliberately prepared for the attack, anticipated its consequences and followed a well-defined plan. "Eric Harris went to war," wrote Wolf DeVoon in his 26 April article The Decision to Kill. "He gave his life to attack Columbine High School and everything it represented."
Among all the finger-pointing that follows each schoolyard massacre, the relationship between serotonin inhibiting antidepressants and teen rampagers has been practically ignored. But the fact is that Eric Harris had been taking Luvox, Kip Kinkel was taking Prozac, one of the two Jonesboro rampagers was also taking antidepressants. David Attias, Santa Barbara's Audi killer, was given both Ritalin and Lithium. The truth, as they say, is in the pudding.
Confirming the possible linkage between the medicating of youngster and their propensity toward violence, Dr. Peter Breggin, author of Toxic Psychiatry, said, "I have no doubt that Prozac can contribute to violence and suicide. I've seen many cases. In the recent clinical trial, 6% of the children became psychotic on Prozac. And manic psychosis can lead to violence."
"I'm going to kill you all. You've been giving us shit for years... You're fucking going to pay for all the shit... We don't give a shit because we're going to die doing it." -- Eric Harris
If the diary was indicative of what was in Eric and Dylan's minds, the suicide videos left no doubts. Clearly, the three videos, shot over a period of two months before the attack, were made to assure their rightful spot in the world cataloque of infamy. The youngsters -- who repeatedly addressed the camera with "All you fucking cops" -- filmed the videos as a goodbye present for investigators. In a way, through the videos Eric and Dylan returned from the grave to help police sort out the mounds of evidence and put together a clearer picture of their mindset. It was also their guarantee for fame and attention.
"Directors will be fighting over this story," Klebold boasted. "Steven Spielberg... Quentin Tarantino," Harris added as potential directors. "It is obvious that these guys wanted to become cult heroes of some kind," Deputy District Attorney Steve Jensen told the Denver Post. "They are making statements which they thought would facilitate that status." Harris and Klebold were "going to become superstars by getting rid of bad people," said lead investigator Kate Battan during an interview with Dave Cullen of Salon.com. "And you know, it worked. They're famous."
The thee videos were two hours, 22 minutes and 40 minutes long respectively, and were shot in 13 different occasions during March and April. One tape shows the boys in Eric's room, laying out their weaponry. The also recorded each other doing dress rehearsals. Sounding a bit like the UFO-loving, Heaven's Gates freaks from San Diego, the two boys talked about how "evolved" they were and how they felt "above human." In a juvenile display of bravado, the youngsters claimed they had been planning their rampage way before the Jonesboro killings. "Don't think we're trying to copy anyone," said Eric to the camera. Clearly, they wanted everyone to know they had not been influenced by any other rampage before them.
One thing, though, they did love their families: "My parents are the best fucking parents I have ever known," Eric said. "My dad is great. I wish I was a fucking sociopath so I didn't have any remorse, but I do... This is going to tear them apart ... It fucking sucks to do this to them." Then, in a heads-up to his teachers, quoted Shakespeare's, The Tempest: "Good wombs hath borne bad sons." Dylan, in his brutish way, also said his parents were great: "They gave me my fucking life," he said. "I appreciate that."
"Fuck you Brady. All I want is a couple of guns and thanks to your fucking bill I will probably not get any! Come on, I'll have a clean record and I only want them for personal protection. It's not like I'm some psycho who would go on a shooting spree." -- Eric Harris
Like other famous armed maniacs such as David Koresh and Timothy McVeigh, Dylan and Eric went shopping for weapons at the loophole-ridden world of gun shows. Planning for maximum bodycount , they wanted small, high-tech weapons with lots of firepower. Dylan liked the TEC-DC 9 semiautomatic pistol. Eric settled on the 9 mm Hi-Point carbine rifle.
The boys obtained their weapons from two people, Mark Manes, a friend of a friend, and Robyn Anderson, Dylan's girlfriend. Manes, 22, met the terrible duo through Philip Duran, a co-worker at the Blackjack Pizza Parlor. Phil, also 22, knew that Eric and Dylan were looking for a piece. His friend, Mark, wanted to sell his TEC-DC 9. On 23 January, the two parties met, the boys gave Manes $500 in cash and the happy seller sweetened the deal by throwing in a couple of 36-round clips. He and Duran also gave the rampagers three shooting lessons.
"I'd like to make a thank you to Mark and Phil," Klebold said in a shout-out in one of the infamous suicide tapes. "I hope you don't get fucked." Klebold, adding his two cents: "We used them. They had no clue... Don't blame them. And don't fucking arrest them... Don't arrest any of our friends, or family members or our co-workers. They had no fucking clue. Don't arrest anyone, because they didn't have a fucking clue." Strangely, the Colorado District Attorney's Office disagreed. Manes was arrested and charged with illegally selling Klebold the TEC-DC 9. He was sentenced to six years in prison. Duran was charged with assisting Manes with the gun sale.
A few months later, Robyn Anderson, Dylan's girlfriend and an honors student at Columbine, went to the Tanner Gun Show to buy more steel for her boyfriend and his little friend. Anderson, 18, was able to legally buy two 20-year-old shotguns -- a Savage Arms Model 67 pump shotgun and a Model 31D double-barrel shotgun -- as well as the 9 mm Hi-Point carbine rifle. Strangely, it was also legal for her to give the weapons to Dylan and Eric, as long as she bought the guns from a private party and not a licensed gun dealer. This is called a straw purchase. This is what Charlton Heston and the rest of the NRA have been tirelessly fighting for, day in and day out, as if their lives depended on it. "I don't support the notion that criminals are getting guns at shows," said Wayne LaPierre, the NRA's executive vice president. "I don't believe more regulation is the answer."
Heston, as president of the NRA, said in the wake of the killing: "Our spirits must endure this terrible suffering together and so must the freedoms that bring us together." Sounding more like Rambo than Moses, he continued: "If there had been even one armed guard in the school he could have saved a lot of lives and perhaps ended the whole thing instantly." Showing that he has a heart of gold next to his six-shooter, Heston announced that the NRA would reduce from three days to one their annual convention scheduled in Denver for the weekend following the shootings. In an even grander gesture, the NRA took down their promotional billboard of Charlton holding a gigantic gun, inviting people to "join" him.
The day before the attack Harris convinced Manes to buy at the local Wal-Mart 100 rounds of 9 mm ammunition and sell it to him for $25. After the sale, Manes asked Eric if he was planning to go shooting. Eric answered, "Maybe tomorrow." In the documentary, Bowling for Columbine, filmmaker Michael Moore took two youngster who still had bullets from the shooting lodged in their spine to the same Wal-Mart that sold the bullets to Manes. After the symbolic returning of the ammunition Wal-Mart announced they would stop carrying the guns and bullets used in the shooting.
THE COLUMBINE REPORT
"We don't blame anyone else for our action. This is the way we want to go out." -- Dylan Klebold
Nineteen months after the Columbine massacre, investigators, hoping to clarify all misconceptions about the killings, released the massive Columbine Report. The Report, with over 11,000 pages of material, audio clips, photographs, 4,500 witness interviews and 10,000 pieces of evidence, was put on CD-ROM and sold by the Sheriff's Department for $602, plus shipping charges. Interestingly, the report refuted several self-perpetuating myths stemming from the rampage.
One myth debunked was the often reported concept that the attack was an assault on jocks, blacks and Christians. The report concluded that the actual attack was random and indiscriminate. Though Eric and Dylan had several hit list, they did not specifically target their enemies. In the library, they had something nasty to say about everyone they shot. Though the press focused on the racist and the "death to jocks" statements they made, they also taunted one boy for being fat -- "Whatta we got here, a fat boy?" -- and another for wearing glasses -- "You think those glasses look cool?" However, the press never said the carnage was directed against the fat and the optically challenged.
A second myth debunked was the still prevalent belief of a third gunman involved in the attack. Like the phantom grassy knoll gunman in Dallas the day Kennedy was shot, this myth of a third and even a fourth Columbine gunman has had a life of its own. In one book, Everything You Know Is Wrong: The Disinformation Guide to Secrets and Lies, there's a chapter dedicated to the multiple gunmen theory. Russ Kick, the editor, lists a series of instances pointing at the possibility of extra shooters. One of the suspected "extra gunmen" was repeatedly spotted on the roof of the school. The report identified the "third gunman" on the roof as a freaked out worker servicing an air-conditioner on top of the girl's locker room.
Another myth debunked was Cassie Bernall's supposed expression of faith when confronted with the cold-steel of a TEC-DC 9 semiautomatic. The myth was that Dylan, holding the gun to Cassie's face, asked her if she believed in God. She said yes, and Dylan blew a hole through her neck. The story became an inspiration for Christian youths throughout the United States. Cassie's mom, Misty Bernall even wrote a book about it, She Said Yes: The Unlikely Martyrdom of Cassie Bernall, which became an instant bestseller.
The press loved the story and ran with it for months, even though, as it later was revealed by Salon.com, many reporters knew the alleged pronouncement of faith was factually untrue. Dylan, as it turned out, played a grotesque version of peek-a-boo with Cassie before shooting her in on the neck. "There was a girl crouched beneath a desk in the library, and the guy came over and said 'Peek-a-boo' and shot her in the neck," said 15-year-old Byron Kirkland. It was another little girl, Valeen Schnurr, who was asked if she believed in God. She said yes and Dylan spared her.
The Cassie deception seemed, at some point, to become a matter of economics. When the mom's book was released, even though most reporters covering Columbine knew that the story was not true, the newspapers they worked for ran glowing reviews about it. The Bernalls themselves appeared on the Today Show, 20/20 and Larry King Live to promote the fictitious tale. And with the book landing on the Publishers Weekly bestseller list with 350,000 copies in print and more than 250,000 already sold, undoubtedly, no reporter wanted to step in and stop the cash flow.
A fourth myth debunked by the report was the belief that student Daniel Rohrbough was not shot by the rampagers, but was shot by the cops. The Rohrboughs were suspicious about who shot the fatal round after the Sheriff's Department adamantly blocked them from seeing any information about their son's autopsy. With growing criticism on the less-than-heroic performance of their three SWAT teams and how they could have saved the life of teacher Dave Sanders, the Sheriff's Office decided to clamp up.
Indeed, it seems a bit strange that the "bravest of the brave" took three and a half hours to secure a crime scene in which the perpetrators were already dead, but second guessing a life and death situation is easy to do in retrospect. The Sheriff's Department, angry over the criticism and the subsequent lawsuits, became reluctant to release any other information that could be used against it. That, in effect, made their perceived guilt that much greater. But the report stated, in no uncertain terms, that no one other than Eric and Dylan killed anyone that ill-fated April morning.
"We're going to kick-start a revolution" -- Eric Harris
Following this unprecedented Columbine attack, schools throughout the nation experienced a rash of copycat situations leading to the closing of entire school districts. "The wackos are coming out of the woodwork," said Sheriff's spokesman, Sergeant Jim Parr. "A lot of sick people think this is something to emulate." Other school districts banned students from wearing trench coats. At least 60 threats specifically mentioning Columbine were reported worldwide.
In one instance 13-year-old Seth Trickey shot and wounded five classmates at an Oklahoma middle school several days after telling a psychiatrist that he wanted to know what it was like to be in the shoes of the Columbine killers. Another youngster, 15-year-old Andy Williams, killed two students and wounded 13 at his high school north of San Diego, California, after warning his friends that he was going to "pull a Columbine."
In Cupertino, California, home of Apple Computers, 19-year-old Al DeGuzman was arrested for stockpiling an arsenal of weapons, 60 homemade bombs and planning an assault -- or, in his words, a "purification in the form of carnage" -- on DeAnza Junior College. DeGuzman, in his web site, listed one of his hobbies as, "worshiping Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold."
Web sites, mailing lists and chatrooms -- like "thechurchofdylananderic" and "ElevenSeventeen " -- have popped up all over the Internet, confirming that, indeed, Eric and Dylan did start a revolution for the disturbed and disenfranchised. Many boys and girls might log on to "thechurchofdylananderic," but that doesn't mean they'll be killing anyone. "There's a difference between wanting to do something like that and doing it,'' said 22-year-old Seth Shatsnider, who started the "ElevenSeventeen" chatroom. That difference might be -- in contrast to what Charlton Heston would say -- having access to a high-powered weapon.