Robert Weller
Updated Dec 14, 2013, 8:21 AM
Stories and images from covering news around the world for more than 40 years.
Use template

The Beginning

COLUMBINE MASSACRE






MAGISTRATE ORDERS COLUMBINE DEPOSITIONS DESTROYED

    DENVER _ A magistrate has ordered the destruction of sealed statements from parents of the Columbine High School gunmen that were given as part of a wrongful death lawsuit that was later settled. U.S. Magistrate Patricia Coan said Thursday there appeared to be no need to keep the depositions from Tom and Sue Klebold and Wayne and Katherine Harris because the case had concluded.
       Her ruling came over the objections of families of five Columbine victims who filed the suit, claiming the parents knew or should have known what their sons were up to before the shootings. Two families said they planned to appeal before the Oct. 7 deadline. Later, an agreement was worked with the state that sent the depositions to the state archives, where they will remain sealed for 20 years.



COLUMBINE KILLERS IN TROUBLE WITH LAW MANY TIMES BEFORE MASSACRE

    LAKEWOOD, Colorado _ After learning no one would be blamed for missing possible warning signs foreshadowed the Columbine High School massacre, Judy Brown simply wept.
    A day before Brown and other victims were shown the huge cache of weapons the killers had collected. It difficult to believe this much materiel could be collected without being observed.
    "It's done. You know it. They're not going to do any more," Randy Brown said as he hugged his sobbing wife.
    The Browns were among a dozen relatives of Columbine victims who stood disconsolately against the back wall of the cavernous fairground auditorium Thursday after Attorney General Ken Salazar said the Jefferson County sheriff's office was not at fault for failing to follow up on warnings about Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.
    Asked if he thought there was a cover-up later, Salazar said: "I do not know today." And Friday, he said his investigation wasn't over.
    But it was.


COLUMBINE HONOR STUDENT ATHLETE HANGS HIMSELF

    LITTLETON, Colo. -- A Columbine High basketball star who witnessed last year's bloodbath -- losing one of his best friends -- hanged himself in his garage as a CD, set to replay continuously, blared a song with the words: ''I'm too depressed to go on.''
    It was the second suicide among friends or relatives of the Columbine High victims, shocking the community two weeks after the first anniversary of the massacre.
     Greg Barnes, a 17-year-old who averaged 26.5 points a game as a junior last season and had attracted attention from Harvard, Notre Dame and other universities, used an electrical cord to hang himself Thursday morning, according to teammate Dave Mitchell.
     ''Adam's Song,'' by the group Blink 182, was playing when his parents found the body, Mitchell said. The lyrics include the phrases ''I never thought I'd die alone'' and ''I'm too depressed to go on. You'll be sorry when I'm gone.''
    Friends were mystified, saying there were no signs of turmoil in the teen-ager's life.
     ''I talked to him the night before, and it didn't seem like anything was wrong,'' Mitchell said. ''We talked about the usual stuff, girls.''
    Grief counselors cautioned against automatically linking Barnes' death to the Columbine shootings, noting that teen-agers live in a pressure-cooker world.
    Suicide is the third-leading cause of death for people ages 15 to 24.
    ''I just didn't believe it. It was horrible. It made me mad. Mad at Greg,'' said Brian Deidel, a teammate and childhood friend.  
    ''He had so much going for him. He didn't need to do that to everybody who knows him, who loves him.''
    Investigators would not say whether Barnes left a note and gave no additional details.
    The news was devastating for students and staff at Columbine. Six counselors were at the school to offer help, and substitute teachers were on call to fill in for staff members who wanted to stay home. Many students skipped school.
    ''It's a somber mood at Columbine High School,'' school district spokesman Rick Kaufman said.
    On April 20, 1999, two teen-age boys killed 12 fellow Columbine students and a teacher and wounded 23 people before committing suicide in the worst school shooting rampage in U.S. history.
    Barnes was in a science room when the gunmen opened fire. He told Sports Illustrated he saw teacher Dave Sanders ''take two shots, right in front of me'' as he watched the rampage through a window in the door. Barnes was also a good friend of victim Matt Kechter.
    ''Matt always waited by the mailbox for his little brother to come home from school,'' Barnes told The Associated Press after the shooting. ''He was the most innocent person I knew."
    Since the massacre, the Columbine community has almost constantly had to live with grief.
    The mother of Anne Marie Hochhalter, a student who was paralyzed in the shooting, walked into a pawnshop in October, asked to see a gun, loaded it and shot herself to death.
    On Valentine's Day, two Columbine sweethearts were shot to death in a sandwich shop.
    The 6-foot-3 Barnes scored 31 points in Columbine's loss during the state quarterfinal playoff game in March.
    The Denver Post and the Denver Rocky Mountain News named him to their all-state teams, and Barnes would have been the top player in the state next year, according to two coaches whose teams played Columbine.
    ''He wasn't an extremely athletic kid, but he was a very hard worker,'' said Kirchers Leday, basketball coach at Denver South High School. ''He was always a gentleman on the floor. He showed tremendous leadership, but was always able to keep things together.''

Help from my colleague, Catherine Tsai, made this story possible.




COLUMBINE SURVIVOR REBUILDS HER LIFE

    LITTLETON, Colo. (AP) — As a sophomore at Columbine High School seven years ago,
    Marjorie Lindholm was a cheerleader with a 3-plus grade-point average who wanted to become a
doctor.
    Her life changed dramatically when the killing spree began on April 20, 1999. Lindholm found herself locked in a classroom with other students and a teacher, Dave Sanders. 
She was there for four hours as Sanders and 12 classmates were gunned down by students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who shot and killed themselves.
    Now 24, Lindholm believes she has only recently begun to heal. Writing a book, “A Columbine Survivor’s Story,” with her mother has helped, she said.
    
Many survivors have moved on after the deadliest school shooting in the nation’s history. But for other, it has been more difficult.
    Sean Graves was shot four times and paralyzed from the waist down. The father of Mark Taylor, who was hit by more than a dozen bullets, left his family in 2001 after 34 years of
marriage. 
    Anne Marie Hochhalter’s mother killed herself 18 months after the massacre, which left her daughter paralyzed from the waist down. 
    Brooks Brown, a friend of the two killers, was briefly named a suspect by authorities, outraging family members who had reportedly tried to warn sheriff’s deputies that Harris had threatened Brooks and was building bombs. Brown said he is now doing well, running a small
video production company.
    And there are others.
    Columbine Principal Frank DeAngelis went through a divorce after throwing himself into his work, but is now engaged to his high school sweetheart.
    In her book, Lindholm recounts her memories of April 20, 1999.
“Within seconds, the whole building began to shake, and I heard the unmistakable sound of gunshots and extremely loud screaming,” she wrote. 
    “The gunfire was so loud that it didn’t seem like normal guns could make that much noise.” 
    About 20 students and teachers took shelter in the science classroom two doors down from the library, where most of the killing was done.
    Sanders, Lindholm’s typing teacher, was brought into the room with gunshot wounds to his neck and upper back. Students covered him in a blanket and took pictures of his family from his
wallet and showed them to him, hoping to keep him conscious.
    “I can’t breathe and I’m not going to make it,” he said, according to Lindholm’s recollection.
    The rescue was as terrifying as the wait, with SWAT team members leading the students out at gunpoint, apparently unaware whether they were victims or assailants.
    “Suddenly, we heard screaming from the adjacent science room. Men dressed in black and carrying guns rushed into our room and began screaming at us,” she wrote.
    After the shootings, Lindholm managed to get through her junior year but dropped out her senior year. Her family was falling apart. Two friends died.
    Encouraged by her mother, Lindholm began keeping a journal. She and her mother, Peggy, began writing the book from those journals. The 102-page work was published last year by
Regenold Publishing of Littleton.
    Today, Lindholm plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree and attend pharmacy school. She is taking online courses at Arapahoe Community College. The pain is still there, however. Recently,
she wept while visiting Chapel Hill Cemetery, where Sanders is buried.
“It’s still difficult,” she said. “But now I can talk about it.”
Patrick Ireland



Greg Barnes

Principal Frank DeAngelis

Sheriff John Stone

Columbine Play




HARRIS AND KLEBOLD GIGGLE DURING VIDEO

    LITTLETON, Colo. _ Teen killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold had run out of people to hate by the time they entered Columbine High School armed for carnage, homemade videos reveal.
    After insulting blacks, Christians, women, Jews, athletes, police and others, Harris is heard to exlaim on one tape, "I hate the fucking humans." Klebold concurs. "It's humans that I hate."
    A more detailed picture of Harris and Klebold emerged Monday, a day after Time magazine published a story on the videotapes, prompting authorities to allow other journalists to view them. Their release angered parents of the victims, who said they had been promised they would be shown the apes before they were publicly released. Several families viewed them Monday evening with journalists.
    "This is just going to serve to re-illuminate all the feelings and pain that (parents) have already experienced," said Brad Bernall, whose daughter, Cassie, was killed in the April 20 attack. "I'm really upset that someone didn't have the courtesy (to warn us)," said Connie Michalik, mother of Richard Castaldo, who was left paralyzed in the attack. "If anyone was going to see them, we had the right."
    Jefferson County sheriff's spokesman Wayne Holverson apologized for causing any heartache to the families. "We sincerely regret the untimely release of the story," he said. In the videos, Harris, 18 and Klebold, 17, detailed the plan that eventually left 12 students and one teacher dead. Both gunmen then committed suicide. The pair filmed a dress rehearsal on tape recorded in the basement at Klebold's home.
   Another reporter and I turned to each other and said simultaneously it's "Wayne's World."

COLUMBINE PRINCIPAL RECALLS THE DAY

    Eric Harris wasn’t a problem student, so Columbine High School Principal Frank DeAngelis never met him.
    But when he finally did encounter him, Harris was in a hallway blasting windows with a gun.
    “I have flashbacks every time I walk down that corridor,” DeAngelis on Thursday told a state commission studying the April 20, 1999, massacre. “I thought I was going to die.”
    Twelve students and one teacher were killed when Harris and Dylan Klebold opened fire. The teenage gunmen then committed suicide.
    DeAngelis told the Governor’s Columbine Review Commission he had met Klebold when the teen was helping out with lighting for a school play. Both youths did well in class, participated in some extracurricular activities and stayed out of trouble at school, DeAngelis said.
    “These kids were not an attendance problem. They had good grades, they integrated nicely,” he said.
    When questioned about “red flags” — including essays and video depicting violence — that may have signaled the teens’ intent, DeAngelis said he had “the utmost confidence” that authorities had no prior knowledge of a planned attack.
    DeAngelis gave a riveting account of the day’s events, beginning with an audiotape of the fire alarm, which rang for 4 ½ hours during the shootings and rescue.
    After being alerted about the attack, DeAngelis said, he walked into a hallway and headed toward the library, where he encountered the student shooting at windows
    He was wearing a white T-shirt, black vest and a baseball cap turned backward. DeAngelis said he later learned the gunman was Harris.
    The principal is one of several members of the Jefferson County School District and law enforcement agencies who have been sued by the families of slain and injured students.
    The victims’ relatives allege authorities should have heeded warning signs that the two students were going to take action and that the rescue was mishandled.
    Sheriff John Stone and members of SWAT teams involved in the incident have refused to testify before the commission because of the lawsuits.

COLUMBINE COPY CATS
HUFFINGTON POST

    Was it shocking or almost to be expected when it turned out that the Australian twins who tried to commit suicide near Denver had an 11-year-old news magazine cover of the Columbine Massacre in their belongings.
    Kristen, the twin who died in the Denver shootings, had written survivor Columbine Brooks Brown to console him. It was only a last-minute decision by the Columbine killers that spared Brooks, who had been a longtime friend before falling out with them. Kristen also talked at length with his mother, Judy.
    Judy and Randy Brown had reported the teen killers to sheriff's deputies when they threatened her son. Nothing was done. Later it was embarrassing when it was learned the killers had been bullied, and nothing was done.
    Bullying remains a problem today.
"I hope that Candice will find the strength to one day speak out and maybe help others. I wish they had called us so we could have supported them the way they supported Brooks," Brown said Sunday.
    Kristen and her sister, Candice, were among thousands around the world who were touched by the tragedy.


EXPERIMENTAL DENVER THEATER TAKES ON COLUMBINE

    DENVER – Five years after the Columbine High School massacre, a theater group is confronting the horror with a play that suggests what went through the minds of killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold once the shooting stopped.
    "It is by far the most challenging thing I have had to do," says actor Brian Lewis, a 27-year-old veteran of a dozen shows at Denver's LIDA Project who plays Harris. Mike Holzer, 24, portrays Klebold.
    "I could sense the discomfort of the audience when we came close to them," he says, referring to a scene in which the teens play a video game on the front edge of the stage.                   Audience members turned their eyes away from the actors.
    Such lines as, "I don't feel any different. It wasn't enough," uttered by Lewis as Harris, did little to endear him to the audience.
    "Bingo Boyz Columbine" moves forward and backward through time and attempts to re-create what happened before Columbine, the day of the April 20, 1999, massacre, and afterward. The play's name was drawn from reports that the teenage killers said "bingo" as they killed.
    Denver Post theater critic John Moore said the play fails ultimately because it doesn't elicit enough disgust from the audience or provide new answers.
    Still, Moore said that "Bingo Boyz: Columbine" may be "the most important and valuable project a theater company like the LIDA Project Theater might ever undertake."
    The two-act play was based on scenes created by the 15-member LIDA Project ensemble from a box full of files about the massacre, which occurred barely 15 miles from the downtown theater. The scenes were edited and turned into a script by director Robin Davies and dramaturge Tami Canaday.
    Davies said the company was responsible for 95 percent of the 22 scenes. For the most part, the play uses real names and documented dialogue. The cast includes four high school students.
    It's performed on a mostly barren stage, flanked by two giant mock school lockers. Small drawings of lockers are placed on the blank, white walls at the back with a screen at the top that shows a photo of Columbine High School.
    "It would have cost $2,000 to have the wall entirely made up of lockers," Davies says.
    The play opens with a dozen cast members squirming on the floor with sirens blaring. There are cries about shots being fired. Harris, carrying a mock Tec 9 semiautomatic, and Klebold with a sawed-off shotgun, soon stalk the floor; students and a teacher hide.
    Flashbacks follow, including an incident in which Harris is tossed around the floor by an athlete (both teenagers had complained of mistreatment by athletes). As their rage escalates, they talk about getting a gun and finding someone they hate enough to kill. Then they kill.
    Most interesting are the fictitious snapshots of what might have been said after the shooting stopped.
    "Nothing went right, did it," says Harris.
    "Not exactly," says Kelbold.
    "There was nowhere near 250 dead," Harris says, with an air of disappointment.
    There also are discussions by teenage girls who say it was kind of cute the way the boys played off each other. The news media's intense coverage is targeted with a kid literally spun around by a TV correspondent demanding answers.
    Brian Rohrbough, whose son, Danny, died at Columbine, hasn't seen the play and said he isn't likely to attend. He wonders about the motives.
    "Ninety-nine percent of the time people are doing this to line their pockets off the blood of the innocent. Many people have approached me about plays because they want to be provocative," he said.
    LIDA, a "fringe" theater company, relies on donations and renting out its facility to get by. It frequently does shows others avoid.
    "These shows don't bring crowds," Davies says. "We do stories that need to be done. Others won't do them because they don't want to take risks." On one recent night the theater, with a 62-seat capacity, wasn't even half full.
    "Bingo Boyz Columbine" runs through Saturday with performances Friday and Saturday nights. Davies said it would be difficult to take the show on the road, at least for LIDA, because of the size of the cast.


Comments