The Serial Killer Compendium, p.17R. J. Parker
In early 1998, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were caught with tools and equipment they’d stolen moments earlier from a parked van near Littleton, Colorado. Both were arrested and attended a joint court hearing where they pleaded guilty to the felony theft. The judge sentenced them to juvenile diversion where they attended various classes together, including a class on anger management. Harris started attending therapy with a psychologist, and continued to do so for about a year. Harris and Klebold were eventually released from diversion several weeks early due to their good behavior, although they remained on probation.
At a meeting with his psychiatrist, Harris complained of depression, anger, and suicidal thoughts, and was prescribed the anti-depressant Zoloft. He complained about restlessness and a lack of concentration to his doctor, and in April was switched to a similar drug, Luvox. At the time of his death, Harris had therapeutic Luvox levels in his system. Some analysts have argued that one or both of these medications may have contributed to Harris's actions as these drugs have a noted side-effect of causing increased aggression, loss of remorse, depersonalization, and mania, in some people.
In the months prior to the attacks, Harris and Klebold acquired two 9mm semi-automatic handguns and two 12-gauge shotguns. A rifle and the two shotguns were bought by a friend, Robyn Anderson, at the Tanner Gun Show in December, 1998. Harris and Klebold later bought a handgun from another friend, Mark Manes, for $500. Manes was jailed after the massacre for selling a handgun to a minor, as was Philip Duran, who had introduced the duo to Manes.
With instructions from the Internet, Harris and Klebold built ninety-nine improvised explosive devices (IEDs) of various designs and size, and sawed the barrels and butts from their shotguns to make them easier to conceal. Numerous felony violations of state and federal law, including the National Firearms Act and the Gun Control Act of 1968, were conducted even before the massacre began.
Harris and Klebold both began keeping journals of their progress soon after their arrests, and documented their arsenal with video. Journal entries revealed that the pair had an elaborate plan for a major bombing rivaling that of the Oklahoma City bombing, plans drawn up for ways to escape to Mexico, a plot that involved hijacking an aircraft at Denver International Airport to crash it into a building in New York City, as well as details for the school attacks. The pair envisioned that after setting off bombs in the cafeteria at the busiest time of day, killing many hundreds of students, they would use their guns to shoot survivors as they fled from the school. Then, as police cars, ambulances, fire trucks, and reporters came to the school, bombs in the boys' cars would explode, killing emergency personnel, media, and law officers. This original plan failed when their main explosives did not detonate.
The boys kept videos that documented the explosives, ammunition, and weapons they had acquired illegally. In these videos, the shooters revealed all the elaborate and creative ways they had thought up to hide their arsenals in their own homes, as well as how they misled their parents. Some videos contained footage of the pair doing target practice in nearby foothills, and shots of the high school they planned to attack. On April 20th, approximately thirty minutes before the attack, they shot a final video saying goodbye, and apologizing to their friends and families.
During the shootings, Harris fired the following weapons:
* 12 gauge Savage-Springfield 67H pump-action shotgun; twenty-five rounds fired.
* Hi-Point 995 Carbine 9mm semi-automatic rifle; fired 96 times.
Harris committed suicide by shooting himself in the head with his shotgun.
Klebold fired the following weapons:
* 9mm Intratec TEC-9 semi-automatic handgun; fifty-five rounds fired.
* 12-gauge Stevens 311D double-barreled sawed-off.
Klebold committed suicide with a shot to the left temple with the TEC-9.
At 11:10 a.m. on Tuesday, April 20th, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold arrived at Columbine High School in separate cars. Harris parked in the junior student parking lot, Klebold in the senior student parking lot, neither at spaces assigned to them. From these spots, both of them had excellent views of the cafeteria's side entrance, and each shooter was covering a main exit of the school. Shortly before arriving, Harris and Klebold set up a small firebomb in a field about half a mile away from the school. The bomb was set to explode at 11:14 a.m., and is thought to have been placed there as a diversion for emergency personnel. The bomb did partially detonate, causing a small fire that was extinguished by the fire department.
The pair met near Harris' car. Armed with two twenty-pound propane bombs in duffel bags, the pair entered the cafeteria a few minutes before lunch and placed the bags carrying the bombs inside. Each bomb was set to explode at approximately 11:17 a.m. Coincidentally, a custodian removed the security camera video tape, rewound it, and placed a new tape in the slot around the same time they entered the cafeteria.
The shooters returned to their cars to wait until the bombs exploded, intending to open fire on students fleeing the school through the main entrances after the cafeteria bombs detonated. As they returned to their cars, Harris encountered Brooks Brown, a classmate with whom he had recently patched up longstanding disagreements. Brown was surprised to see Harris as Harris had been absent from class that morning. Brown told Harris that he had missed a test, but Harris seemed unconcerned. Harris then warned him, "Brooks, I like you now. Get out of here. Go home." Brown, feeling uneasy, walked away. Several minutes later, students departing Columbine for lunch noticed Brooks Brown heading down South Pierce Street, away from the school.
Meanwhile, Harris and Klebold armed themselves by their cars and waited for the bombs to explode. When the cafeteria bombs failed, Harris and Klebold armed themselves with their weapons, met, and walked toward the building. They went to the top of the West Entrance steps, the highest point on campus. From this vantage point, the cafeteria's side entrance was at the bottom of the staircase, the school's main West Entrance was to their left, and the athletic fields were to their right.
At 11:19 a.m., a witness heard Eric Harris yell, "Go! Go!" At that moment, the gunmen pulled their guns and Harris began shooting at Rachel Scott and Richard Castaldo with his 9mm semi-automatic carbine rifle., who were sitting on a grassy knoll to their left, eating lunch. Scott was hit four times and killed instantly. Castaldo, hit eight times, was critically wounded. It is unclear who shot first and who killed Scott. Subsequently, many rumors have swirled regarding the causes of the rampage, suggesting the possible targeting of Christians. One such rumor included the shooters asking Scott if she believed in God, and then killing her after she answered that she did. The FBI later concluded that this conversation did not take place.
Harris removed his trench coat and took out his 9mm rifle again, aiming it down the West Staircase. Daniel Rohrbough and two friends, Sean Graves and Lance Kirklin, were walking up the staircase directly below the shooters. Kirklin reported seeing them at the top when suddenly they began shooting at him. All three fell, wounded.
Harris and Klebold then turned and began shooting south, away from the school, at students sitting on the grassy knoll adjacent to the steps, opposite the West Entrance of the school. Michael Johnson was hit, but kept running and escaped. Mark Taylor fell to the ground, crippled, and played dead. The other three escaped uninjured. As the shooting continued, Sean Graves stood up and limped down the staircase to the cafeteria's side entrance, where he collapsed in front of the door. Klebold walked down the steps, heading toward the cafeteria. As he descended, he shot Lance Kirklin once more in the face, critically wounding him. As Daniel Rohrbough struggled down the steps towards the bottom of the staircase, Klebold walked up to him and shot him in the back at close range, killing him. He then continued down the staircase and entered the cafeteria, walking over the injured Sean Graves, who lay at the cafeteria entrance. It is speculated that Klebold did this because he was checking to see why the propane
The two then shot toward students standing near the soccer field a few yards away, but did not hit anyone. They threw pipe bombs as they made their way towards the West Entrance, none of which detonated. Inside the campus, teacher Patti Nielson, seeing the commotion, walked towards the West Entrance with student Brian Anderson. She wanted to walk outside and tell the two students to "Knock it off," as she thought they were shooting a video or pulling a prank. As Anderson opened the first set of double doors, Harris and Klebold shot out the windows. Anderson was injured by flying glass and Nielson was hit in the shoulder by shrapnel. Reacting in fear, she quickly stood up and ran down the hall into the library, where she alerted the students inside, demanding they duck beneath desks and remain silent. She then dialed 911 and concealed herself beneath the library's administrative counter. Brian Anderson remained behind, caught between the exterior and interior doors.
Soon thereafter, at approximately 11:24 a.m., a Jefferson County deputy sheriff arrived at the scene and began shooting at Harris and Klebold, distracting them from the injured Brian Anderson. Anderson staggered out of the area and made it into the library where he ran into an open staff break room. He remained there until the ordeal ended. Harris fired ten shots at the officer, who then radioed in a Code 33 (officer in need of emergency assistance). When his gun ran out of ammunition, Harris ran inside the school with Klebold. The pair then proceeded down the main North Hallway, shooting at anyone they saw and throwing pipe bombs. While doing so, they shot student Stephanie Munson in the ankle. She was able to walk out of the school and made it to a house across the street.
Moments earlier, Coach Dave Sanders had evacuated the cafeteria through a staircase leading up to the second floor. The staircase was around the corner from the Library Hallway in the main South Hallway. He and a student turned the corner and were walking down the Library Hallway when they saw the shooters coming around the corner from the North Hallway. The two quickly turned around and ran the other way. The shooters came around the corner and Harris shot at both of them, hitting Dave Sanders in the chest as he reached the South Hallway, but he missed the student. The student ran into a science classroom and alerted the teacher inside.
Meanwhile, the shooters returned up the North Hallway. Coach Sanders struggled over to the science classroom where thirty students had been taking an exam, and the teacher took him in. A sign was placed in the exterior window that read, "I bleeding to death," in order to alert police of their location. Two students administered first aid, and attempted to control the bleeding with the shirts of the male students in the room. A teacher and several students remained in contact with police outside of the school using a phone in the classroom. All the students in the science room were evacuated safely, but Sanders was not evacuated, and died at approximately 3:00 p.m. He was the only teacher killed in the ordeal.
As the shooting unfolded, Patti Nielson was on the phone with emergency services, recounting her experience, and trying to get students to take cover under desks. According to transcripts, her call was received by the 911 operator at 11:25 a.m. The time between the call being answered and the shooters entering the library was four minutes and ten seconds. Before entering, the shooters threw two bombs into the cafeteria from the staircase in the South Hallway, both of which exploded. One can be seen on the security tapes. They then threw another into the Library Hallway, which also exploded, luckily only damaging some lockers.
At 11:29 a.m., Harris and Klebold entered the library where fifty-two students, two teachers, and two librarians were hiding. As he entered, Harris shot at a display case at the opposite end of the administrative counter, injuring student Evan Todd, who was hiding under a copier table nearby. Harris then yelled for everyone to "Get up!" so loudly that he can be heard on the 911 recording at 11:29:18. Staff and students hiding in the library exterior rooms said they heard the gunmen say things like "Everyone with white hats, stand up! This is for all the shit you've given us for the past four years!" and "All jocks stand up! We'll get the guys in white hats!" Wearing a white baseball cap at Columbine was a tradition amongst sports team members.
When no one stood up, Harris was heard saying, "Fine, I'll start shooting anyway!" He fired his shotgun at a desk, not knowing Evan Todd was under it. Todd was hit by wood splinters, but not seriously hurt. The shooters made their way to the opposite side of the library, to the two rows of computers. Evan Todd used the time to conceal himself behind the administrative counter. Kyle Velasquez was sitting at the north end of the computers. Police said that he had not hidden under the desk, but that he was curled up under the computer table. Klebold shot at him first, hitting him in the head and back, killing him. The shooters set down their duffel bags filled with ammunition at the row of computers, and reloaded their weapons.
They then walked to the windows facing the outside staircase, where they’d come from just minutes ago. Noticing police evacuating students, Harris said, "Let's go kill some cops," and they began to shoot out the windows. Police returned fire. After a few seconds, Klebold turned away from the windows and fired his shotgun at a nearby table, injuring Patrick Ireland, Daniel Steepleton, and Makai Hall. He immediately removed his trench coat. Harris grabbed his shotgun and walked over to the lower row of computer desks, firing his gun underneath the first desk in the row without looking to see who was under it. The shot killed Steven Curnow, who was hiding underneath. He then shot under the next computer desk, injuring Kacey Ruegsegger.
Harris walked over to the table across from the lower computer row, slapped the top twice with his hand, knelt down, and said "peek-a-boo," before shooting Cassie Bernall in the head. The recoil from the weapon hit his face, breaking his nose. Although one witness reported that Bernall was the individual who was asked, "Do you believe in God?" the exchange actually happened with Klebold and surviving student Valeen Schnurr. Three students witnessed Bernall's death, including the person who was hiding under the table with her, and testified that Klebold and Bernall did not exchange words. Although some students who were in the library asserted the exchange occurred, none of them physically witnessed it. They may instead have heard the exchange between Klebold and Schnurr and have been misled by news reports that attributed the words to Bernall.
Harris turned to the next table where student Bree Pasquale sat next to the table rather than beneath it. She had not hidden underneath, as there was not enough room. Harris asked her if she wanted to die, and Pasquale responded with a plea for her life. Witnesses report that Harris seemed disoriented, possibly from the wound to his face, which was bleeding heavily. As Harris taunted Pasquale, Patrick Ireland tried to aid Makai Hall, who had suffered a wound to his knee. While doing so, his head came above the table. Klebold shot him, hitting him twice in the head and once in the foot. He was knocked unconscious, but survived.
Klebold then proceeded towards another set of tables, discovering Isaiah Shoels, Matthew Kechter, and Craig Scott, Rachel Scott's brother, hiding under the table. All were popular athletes at the school. Klebold attempted to pull Isaiah out from underneath the table, but was unsuccessful. He then called to Harris, who left Bree Pasquale and joined him. Klebold and Harris taunted Shoels for a few seconds and made derogatory racial comments towards him before Harris knelt down and shot him in the chest at close range, killing him. Klebold also knelt down and opened fire, hitting and killing Matthew Kechter. Craig Scott remained uninjured but he lay in the blood of his friends, pretending to be dead.
Harris turned and threw a CO2 bomb at the table where Hall, Steepleton, and Ireland were located. The CO2 bomb landed on Daniel Steepleton's thigh, but Makai Hall grabbed the bomb and threw it south, away from the shooters.
Meanwhile, Harris went over to another table where two girls were hiding, bent down to look at them, and dismissed them as ‘pathetic.’ The shooters then went over to an empty table and reloaded their weapons. Schnurr, who had been hurt badly, began to cry out at that point, "Oh, God help me!" Klebold went back to her and asked her if she believed in God. She floundered in her answer, saying no and then yes, trying to get the answer right. He asked her why and she said it was because it was what her family believed. He taunted her, reloaded his shotgun, and then walked away. The slightly injured Evan Todd reported that Klebold said, "God is gay."
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