Columbine High School massacre

Columbine High School massacre
Columbine Shooting Security Camera.jpg
Eric Harris (left) and Dylan Klebold (right) caught on the high school's security cameras in the cafeteria, 11 minutes before their suicides
Location Columbine, Colorado, [1] U.S.
Coordinates 39°36′12″N 105°04′29″W / 39°36′12″N 105°04′29″W / 39.60333; -105.07472
Date April 20, 1999; 18 years ago (1999-04-20)
11:19 a.m. – 12:08 p.m. ( UTC-6)
Target Students and faculty at Columbine High School
Attack type
School shooting, mass murder, murder–suicide, arson, attempted bombing
Weapons
Deaths 15 (including both perpetrators)
Non-fatal injuries
24 (21 by gunfire)
Perpetrators Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold
Defenders William David Sanders
Aaron Hancey [2]

The Columbine High School massacre was a school shooting that occurred on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School in Columbine, [3] [4] an unincorporated area of Jefferson County in the American state of Colorado. In addition to the shootings, the complex and highly planned attack involved a fire bomb to divert firefighters, propane tanks converted to bombs placed in the cafeteria, 99 explosive devices, and car bombs. The perpetrators, senior students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, murdered 12 students and one teacher. They injured 21 additional people, and three more were injured while attempting to escape the school. The pair subsequently committed suicide. [5] [6]

Although their precise motives remain unclear, the personal journals of the perpetrators document that they wished their actions to rival the Oklahoma City bombing and other deadly incidents in the United States in the 1990s. The attack has been referred to by USA Today as a "suicidal attack [that was] planned as a grand—if badly implemented— terrorist bombing." [7] The massacre has been reported as "the deadliest high school shooting in U.S. history." [8]

The massacre sparked debate over gun control laws, high school cliques, subcultures, and bullying. It resulted in an increased emphasis on school security with zero tolerance policies, [9] [10] and a moral panic over goth culture, gun culture, social outcasts (even though the perpetrators were not outcasts), [11] [12] the use of pharmaceutical anti-depressants by teenagers, teenage Internet use, [13] and violence in video games. [14] [15]

Preliminary activities and intent

In 1996, Eric Harris created a private website on America Online. Harris initially created the site to host gaming levels he and his friend, Dylan Klebold, created for use in the video game Doom, primarily for friends. On this site, Harris began a blog, which included jokes and short journal entries with thoughts on parents, school, and friends. By the end of the year, the site contained instructions on how to cause mischief, as well as instructions on how to make explosives, and blogs in which he described the trouble he and Klebold were causing. Beginning in early 1997, the blog postings began to show the first signs of Harris's ever-growing anger against society. [16]

Harris's site attracted few visitors, and caused no concern until March 1998. Klebold gave the web address to Brooks Brown, a former friend of Harris. Brown's mother had filed numerous complaints with the Jefferson County Sheriff's office concerning Harris, as she thought he was dangerous. The website contained numerous death threats directed against Brown: Klebold knew that if Brooks accessed the address, he would discover the content and inform his parents, and likely the authorities would be notified. After Brown's parents viewed the site, they contacted the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office. The investigator Michael Guerra was told about the website. [16] When he accessed it, Guerra discovered numerous violent threats directed against the students and teachers of Columbine High School. Other material included blurbs that Harris had written about his general hatred of society, and his desire to kill those who annoyed him.

Harris had noted on his site that he had made pipe bombs, in addition to a hit list of individuals (he did not post any plan on how he intended to attack targets). [17] As Harris had posted on his website that he possessed explosives, Guerra wrote a draft affidavit, requesting a search warrant of the Harris household. The affidavit also mentioned a suspicion of Harris being involved in an unsolved pipe bomb case in February 1998. The affidavit was never filed. [16] It was concealed by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office and not revealed until September 2001, resulting from an investigation by the TV show 60 Minutes.

After the revelation about the affidavit, a series of grand jury investigations were begun into the cover-up activities of Jefferson County officials. The investigation revealed that high-ranking county officials had met a few days after the massacre to discuss the release of the affidavit to the public. It was decided that because the affidavit's contents lacked the necessary probable cause to have supported the issuance of a search warrant for the Harris household by a judge, it would be best not to disclose the affidavit's existence at an upcoming press conference, although the actual conversations and points of discussion were never revealed to anyone other than the grand jury members. Following the press conference, the original Guerra documents disappeared. In September 1999, a Jefferson County investigator failed to find the documents during a secret search of the county's computer system. A second attempt in late 2000 found copies of the document within the Jefferson County archives. The documents were reconstructed and released to the public in September 2001, but the original documents are still missing. The final grand jury investigation was released in September 2004.

On January 30, 1998, Harris and Klebold stole tools and other equipment from a van parked near the city of Littleton. [18] Both youths were arrested and subsequently attended a joint court hearing, where they pleaded guilty to the felony theft. The judge sentenced the duo to attend a juvenile diversion program. There, both boys attended mandated classes and talked with diversion officers. One of their classes taught anger management. Harris also began attending therapy classes with a psychologist. Klebold had a history of drinking and had failed a dilute urine test, but neither he nor Harris attended any substance abuse classes. [19]

Harris and Klebold were eventually released from diversion several weeks early because of positive actions in the program; [16] they were both on probation. [20] Shortly after Harris' and Klebold's court hearing, Harris's online blog disappeared. His website was reverted to its original purpose of posting user-created levels of Doom. Harris began to write in a journal, in which he recorded his thoughts and plans. In April 1998, [21] as part of his diversion program, Harris wrote a letter of apology to the owner of the van. However, around the same time, he furiously derided him in his journal, stating that he believed himself to have the right to steal something if he wanted to. [22] [23] Harris continued his scheduled meetings with his psychologist until a few months before he and Klebold committed the Columbine High School massacre.

Harris dedicated a section of his website to posting content regarding his and Klebold's progress in their collection of guns and building of bombs (they subsequently used both in attacking students at their school). After the website was made public, AOL permanently deleted it from its servers. [24]

Medication

In one scheduled meeting with his appointed psychiatrist, Harris had complained of depression, anger, and suicidal thoughts. As a result, he was prescribed the anti-depressant Zoloft. He complained of feeling restless and having trouble concentrating; in April, his doctor switched him to Luvox, a similar anti-depressant drug. [25]

Journals and videos

Harris and Klebold both began keeping journals soon after their 1998 arrests. In these journals, the pair documented their arsenal with video tapes they kept secret. [16] [26]

Their journals documented their plan for a major bombing to rival that of the Oklahoma City bombing. Their entries contained blurbs about ways to escape to Mexico, hijacking an aircraft at Denver International Airport and crashing it into a building in New York City (foreshadowing the September 11 attacks by two years), and details about the planned attack. The pair hoped that, after detonating their home-made explosives in the cafeteria at the busiest time of day, killing hundreds of students, [27] they would shoot survivors fleeing from the school. Then, as police vehicles, ambulances, fire trucks, and reporters came to the school, bombs set in the boys' cars would detonate, killing these emergency and other personnel. That did not happen, since these explosives did not detonate. [16] [28]

The pair kept videos that documented the explosives, ammunition, and weapons they had obtained illegally. They revealed the ways they hid their arsenals in their homes, as well as how they deceived their parents about their activities. The pair shot videos of doing target practice in nearby foothills, as well as areas of the high school they planned to attack. [16] On April 20, approximately thirty minutes before the attack, [29] they made a final video saying goodbye and apologizing to their friends and families.

Other Languages
Bahasa Indonesia: Tragedi Columbine
norsk nynorsk: Columbine-massakren
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Columbine Litsey Qirg'ini
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Masakr u Columbineu