Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold

Eric Harris
Eric Harris.JPG
Senior year picture, 1998
Born Eric David Harris
(1981-04-09)April 9, 1981
Wichita, Kansas, U.S.
Died April 20, 1999(1999-04-20) (aged 18)
Columbine, Colorado, U.S.
Cause of death Suicide by gunshot
Occupation Student at Columbine High School and shift manager at Blackjack Pizza
Parent(s)
  • Wayne Harris
  • Katherine Harris, née Poole
Relatives
  • Kevin Harris
Motive Multiple factors, bullying, psychopathy, sadism [1]
Details
Date April 20, 1999
11:19 a.m. – 12:08 p.m.
Location(s) Columbine High School
Target(s) Students, teachers, and police
Killed 8
Injured 24 (21 together with Klebold)
Weapons Hi-Point 995 Carbine, Savage 67H pump-action shotgun, explosives and two knives
Dylan Klebold
Dylan Klebold.JPG
Senior year picture, 1998
Born Dylan Bennet Klebold
(1981-09-11)September 11, 1981
Lakewood, Colorado, U.S.
Died April 20, 1999(1999-04-20) (aged 17)
Columbine, Colorado, U.S.
Cause of death Suicide by gunshot
Occupation Student at Columbine High School and employee at Blackjack Pizza
Parent(s)
  • Thomas Klebold
  • Susan Klebold, née Yassenoff
Relatives
  • Byron Klebold
Motive Multiple factors, bullying, depression, revenge
Details
Date April 20, 1999
11:19 a.m. – 12:08 p.m.
Location(s) Columbine High School
Target(s) Students, teachers, and police
Killed 5
Injured 24 (21 together with Harris)
Weapons Intratec TEC-DC9, Stevens 311D double barreled sawed-off shotgun, explosives and two knives

Eric David Harris (April 9, 1981 – April 20, 1999) and Dylan Bennet Klebold (September 11, 1981 – April 20, 1999) were two American spree killers and mass murderers who killed 13 people and wounded 24 others armed with firearms and knives on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado. They were twelfth grade ( senior) students at the high school. The shooting rampage came to be known as the Columbine High School massacre. [2] [3] Harris and Klebold committed suicide in the library, where they had killed 10 of their victims. [4]

Background

Eric Harris

Harris was born in Wichita, Kansas. The Harris family relocated often, as Eric's father, Wayne Harris, was a U.S. Air Force transport pilot. His mother, Katherine Ann Poole, was a homemaker. The family moved from Plattsburgh, New York, to Littleton, Colorado, in July 1993, when Wayne Harris retired from military service. [5]

The Harris family lived in rented accommodations for the first three years that they lived in the Littleton area. During this time, Eric met Dylan Klebold. In 1996, the Harris family purchased a house south of Columbine High School. Eric's older brother, Kevin, attended college at the University of Colorado Boulder. [6] [7]

Dylan Klebold

Klebold was born in Lakewood, Colorado, to Thomas and Susan Klebold. [5] His parents were pacifists and attended a Lutheran church with their children. Both Dylan and his older brother, Byron, attended confirmation classes in accordance with the Lutheran tradition. [8] As had been the case with his older brother, Dylan was named after a renowned poet (in Dylan's case, the playwright Dylan Thomas [9]).

At the family home, the Klebolds also observed some rituals in keeping with Klebold's maternal grandfather's Jewish heritage. [8] [10] Klebold attended Normandy Elementary in Littleton, Colorado for the first two grades before transferring to Governor's Ranch Elementary and became part of the CHIPS ("Challenging High Intellectual Potential Students") program. [11] He found the transition to Ken Caryl Middle School difficult. [5]

Columbine High School

At Columbine High, Harris and Klebold were active in school play productions, operated video productions and became computer assistants maintaining the school's computer server. [5]

According to early accounts of the shooting, Harris and Klebold were very unpopular students and targets of bullying. While sources do support accounts of bullying directed toward the pair, [12] [13] [14] accounts of them being outcasts have been reported to be false. [15] [16]

Harris and Klebold were initially reported to be members of a group that called themselves the "Trenchcoat Mafia", although in fact they had no particular connection with the group, and did not appear in a group photo of the Trenchcoat Mafia in the 1998 Columbine yearbook. [17] [18] Harris's father stated that his son was "a member of what they call the Trenchcoat Mafia" in a 911 call he made on April 20, 1999. [19] Klebold attended the high school prom three days before the shootings with a classmate named Robyn Anderson. [4]

Harris and Klebold linked their personal computers on a network and both played many games over the Internet. Harris created a set of levels for the game Doom, which later became known as the 'Harris levels'. Harris had a web presence under the handle "REB" (short for Rebel, a nod to the nickname of Columbine's sports teams) and other cyber aliases, including "Rebldomakr", "Rebdoomer", and "Rebdomine", while Klebold went by the names "VoDKa" and "VoDkA". Harris had various websites that hosted Doom and Quake files, as well as team information for those he gamed with online. The sites openly espoused hatred for the people of their neighborhood and the world in general. When the pair began experimenting with pipe bombs, they posted results of the explosions on the websites. The website was shut down by America Online after the shootings and was preserved for the FBI. [20]

Initial legal encounters

In March 1998, Jefferson County Sheriff's Office investigator Michael Guerra looked at Harris's website after the parents of Brooks Brown, a fellow student of Harris and Klebold, discovered Harris was making threats aimed at their son after a falling out between them. Harris also wrote on his website that he had been building and detonating pipe bombs. Guerra wrote a draft affidavit for a search warrant, but the affidavit was never filed as authorities believed that they did not have the necessary probable cause to conduct a search of the Harris household. This information was not revealed to the public until September 2001 by 60 Minutes, though it was known by the police the entire time.

The two boys got into trouble with the law for breaking into a locked van and stealing computers. In January 1998, they were charged with mischief, breaking and entering, trespassing, and theft. They both left good impressions on the juvenile officers, who offered to expunge their criminal records if they agreed to attend a diversionary program to include community service, received psychiatric treatment, and obeyed the law. Harris was required to attend anger management classes where, again, he made a favorable impression. They were so well-behaved that their probation officer discharged them from the program a few months earlier than the due date. Of Harris, it was remarked that he was "a very bright individual who is likely to succeed in life", while Klebold was said to be intelligent, but "needs to understand that hard work is part of fulfilling a dream." On April 30, Harris handed over the first version of a letter of apology he wrote to the owner of the van, which he completed the next month. [21] In the letter, Harris expressed regret about his actions; however, in one of his journal entries dated April 12, he wrote: "Isnt america supposed to be the land of the free? how come, If im free, I cant deprive some fucking dumbshit from his possessions If he leaves them sitting in the front seat of his fucking van in plain sight in the middle of fucking nowhere on a fri-fucking-day night? Natural selection. Fucker should be shot. [ sic]". [22] [23]

Hitmen for Hire

In December 1998, Harris and Klebold made Hitmen for Hire, a video for a school project in which they swore, yelled at the camera, made violent statements, and acted out shooting and killing students in the hallway of their school as Hitmen for Hire. They both displayed themes of violence in their creative writing projects for school; of a Doom-based story written by Harris on January 17, 1999, Harris's teacher said: "Yours is a unique approach and your writing works in a gruesome way — good details and mood setting." [24] [25]