Michelle Hartsough used to work with Eric and Dylan in the Blackjack Pizza. She was good friends with them and often heard them talk about wanting to blow up Columbine High School and kill jocks. She said that they both talked about a senior prank that was going to take place on April 20th,…


Krystie DeHoff was on her way to the library around 11:30 in the morning on April 20, when she was suddenly yanked out of the hall and hurled into a classroom by a teacher she couldn’t even see. She heard explosions. Moans. Cries. The floor shook. She didn’t understand what was happening, and could not have imagined that it was being caused, in part, by Dylan Klebold, the boy she used to splash with in the kiddie pool at the Walnut Creek subdivision.

She heard a loud voice in the hall, hysterical, crazed: A male voice shrieking, “I want to die today!”

Everyone around Littleton seems to be no more than two degrees of separation from the brunt of the violence. Many of the injured lived within a couple of blocks of Eric Harris. Valeen Schnurr, 18, who baby-sits for the Smallwoods on South Reed Street, has nine bullet and shrapnel wounds on her left side.

A few doors down is Josh Lapp, 16, another library survivor. He hid under a table, covering a girl, an old friend. She began crying. He hushed her, said any noise would draw the attention of the kids with guns. Lapp saw Klebold, the boy who never had a toy gun, shoot and kill Dan Mauser, 15, who was cowering under a table just behind Lapp. He then saw Klebold pull a knife out of his boot, hold it over the dead boy, and yell, “You know what I’ve always wanted to do is kill someone with a knife!”

Seconds later, Lapp made eye contact with Harris and Klebold. They walked toward him. He held their gaze. They didn’t fire. Lapp explained why he survived. He, too, had watched a lot of violent and gory movies, and he remembered a cardinal rule: “It’s harder to kill someone when they’re looking you in the eye.”

Randy Lapp, Josh’s father, now struggles with the meaning of this jangling event. He remembers when he grew up in small-town Minnesota where there were no privacy fences, where all the yards joined. He wonders if affluence somehow contributed to what happened here in Littleton.

"In a neighborhood with houses this size," he says, "everybody’s too busy working and making money."

Karen Good, two doors down from the Harrises, says things used to be different on the cul-de-sac. There were mothers and children always playing outside, having each other over for meals and card games. But over time, everyone retreated behind the fences. By the time the Harrises arrived in 1996, nobody even gave them a welcome party.

Which leaves Karen Good to sit in her kitchen and wonder: “Gosh, what if we’d reached out? Would it have made a difference?”

The residents of South Reed Street now have to figure out what to do. Lorie Fattore’s kids sleep on her bedroom floor, fearful of being in their own rooms in the dark. Kipp Smallwood is rattled, thinking of how his daughter, Clare, a kindergartner, said to him tearfully, “Daddy, do you think they’re going to shoot the little kids too or are they only shooting the big kids?”

There must be some way, the residents of South Reed Street say, to make something good come out of the Columbine tragedy.

Smallwood has circulated an idea: Every night at 7 o’clock, let’s turn off the television sets and the computers. Let’s go outside, into the cul-de-sac, and spend time together. Let’s connect.

"Try to feel like we know each other again," he says.

And for starters, they would learn each other’s names.

(source: Washingtonpost)


The Columbine tragedy has assumed national dimensions in part because it happened in such an archetypal suburb – with all the same superstores, franchise restaurants, office parks, curving streets, swing sets, privacy fences and factory-sized public schools found in metropolitan areas all over America. The ranchlands southwest of Denver have been converted to subdivisions and malls with an apparently unwavering obeisance to the corporate blueprints. No deviations allowed.

Like so many suburbs, almost everyone here is a transplant. Conoco moved Tom Klebold, a 36-year-old geophysicist, and his family here from Oklahoma City in 1980. Wayne Harris retired from the Army at age 46 in 1993, moving here so he could work for a defense contractor.

The families chose the Littleton mailing address for the reason everyone did – it had represented the good life since at least 1858, when gold was discovered just 2½ miles to the north. There aren’t many echoes of the frontier these days. Littleton is now Everyburb, garnished with a view of the Rockies.

South Reed Street is a fishhook-shaped strip of two-story homes with two-car garages, ending in a cul-de-sac. There are no edges here. The houses are linked by identical six-foot cedar privacy fences, so that, from the center of the cul-de-sac, the outside world has been sealed off. The worst thing that anyone can remember happening here was the occasional house getting toilet-papered by pranksters.

So maybe Eric Harris, unlike his older brother, didn’t come out to the cul-de-sac to play basketball with Matt Good, who lived two doors over. So maybe Eric’s pal Dylan Klebold would drive a hair too fast in his black BMW as he rounded the curve. Certainly no one ever saw any violence here, and residents say they don’t remember ever seeing a police car – until the day the SWAT teams showed up, men in black with guns drawn, creeping up to the Harris house from either side. The whole street was evacuated while the cops searched for bombs.

Bobbi Taylor has a mental picture: It’s springtime, a generic sunny day. On the back deck of the house behind her, Wayne Harris talks with his son, Eric. Or maybe they are mowing the yard. Or maybe Kathy Harris is tending to her garden, planting, weeding. “As soon as the sun would come out, she’d go turn her dirt,” Taylor says.

Today, no one can ask Kathy Harris how her garden grows. The neighbors don’t expect to see the Harrises ever again. There are four bags of compost sitting around the yard, one of them partly opened.

Gawkers come through day and night, slowly turning around in the cul-de-sac. What they see is hardly an artifact of evil: a tidy house of brick and blue vinyl siding, indistinguishable from all the others except for its colors.

That’s precisely what scares Kipp Smallwood.

"I turn on the news and I see their house, and I think, ‘That’s my house!’ " said Smallwood, 33, who lives on the other side of the street. "It’s the exact same house, the same windows, same driveway, same trim, everything except the color. I lie in bed thinking: 200 feet from my bedroom is where this guy conceived this idea to destroy everything we thought we had. Everything you thought you knew about your neighborhood, your schools, your churches – all just shattered. Vaporized. We feel like we’re at ground zero."

Every night, as he goes to bed, he looks out at the Harris home, to a window on the second floor – possibly Eric’s room, he thinks – and he sees that the lights are still on, a ceaseless, creepy beacon shining across the neighborhood.

"When I found out he lived right behind us, I was just shaking," says Charlene Conner, expecting a baby in June. Her husband, Kerry, said they only knew the people who lived on either side of them, not the people over the back fence.

Residents wonder what else they don’t see, what other virus may be hiding under the manicured surface. Life cannot return to normal. Normal is now suspicious.

"Today I was thinking, was my son involved? What’s he got in his backpack?" says Steve Cohn.

Cohn was being rhetorical, because he knows his son, Aaron, wasn’t involved. He was making the point that he now has to question his assumptions about his relationship with the boy. Does he really know him?

"I thought I did, until this."

Aaron, he said, has been acting numb since the massacre. “He’s just not the same as he was before the shooting.” To be shellshocked is understandable, given that Aaron Cohn barely escaped with his life, a survivor of the library – “the library” being a supremely chilling phrase for those who know what happened at Columbine on April 20. Cohn was studying at a desk when something exploded in the doorway. He dove to the ground. His friends were getting shot. He sensed someone putting a gun to his head. The killers were playing God, laughing.

Cohn heard one of the killers go up to a girl who was hiding under a desk. The gunman said “Peek-a-boo!” Then he killed her.

He escaped when Klebold and Harris left, briefly, to retrieve ammunition. What makes this story all the more eerie is that when Aaron Cohn came home that night, still spattered in blood, he discovered that Eric Harris lived right behind him, that Eric’s was that blue-gray house looming over his backyard. That one. Right there.

That was the night everyone learned who their neighbors were.

So far the information about the Harris and Klebold families that is coming to light is all pretty much the same: These were the kind of folks you’d want next door.

"Wonderful family. All the positives you can imagine," says a friend of the Klebolds, who says she can’t give her name because she may be called as a character witness in a legal proceeding.

Vicki DeHoff says of the Klebolds, “Tom and Sue did not cause that behavior by their parenting.” She views the case through her Christian faith. “The source of the evil, I believe, was Satan himself.”

Randy Brown, a family friend who went to the funeral for Dylan Klebold, said: “They loved their kids. They cared for their kids. They talked to their kids.”

So, too, are the Harrises well remembered. Wayne and Kathy married young, in 1970, and a few years later Wayne entered the Air Force. After that the family never stayed anywhere long. Eric was born in Wichita, Kansas, where his father was stationed as a pilot. Then came Dayton, Ohio, and then Oscoda, Mich.

By that time his father was an aircraft commander and instructor at Wurtsmith Air Force Base. Eric’s fifth-grade teacher, Bonnie Leach, says, “He was the perfect little fifth-grader.” He was an A-student, small for his age. “Adorable,” she says.

She remembers being impressed that both of Eric’s parents attended parent-teacher conferences. His mother helped out when the class made special shirts for Halloween. “She was just a helpful mom,” Leach says. “If I ever called, she was willing to come.”

Wayne Harris, meanwhile, was a scout leader and helped coach sports teams. He won election to the Lakewood Shores Property Owners Association. When he ran for the position he wrote that he “desires to become more deeply involved in our community.” But then the air base closed. The Harrises moved again, this time to Plattsburgh, N.Y.

Kris Otten became Eric’s best friend. He remembers the sleepovers at the Harris home. “It was a real comforting house. Everything was neat and organized,” Otten says. Both parents usually were home. Eric’s mother was always ready with sandwiches for the boys. They’d play computer games, dive off the couches and pillows in the family’s basement, build snow forts.

"The Eric Harris in Colorado that did these things was not the kid I knew in New York," Otten says.

Terry Condo drafted Harris for one of his dozen Little League teams in Plattsburgh in April 1993. The coach thought Harris had some talent. “The bonus with Eric was, he had great parents.” Wayne and Kathy Harris attended both games and practices.

But then Wayne Harris retired from the Air Force. The family moved to Colorado. In middle school, Eric Harris became best friends with Dylan Klebold.

It appears that, sometime in his maturation, Eric Harris developed a psychiatric problem. He began taking an antidepressant called Luvox. Whether he took it for depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder or some other ailment, or even whether he was correctly diagnosed, is unknown. What’s certain is that when he applied to enlist in the Marine Corps in early April, he said he didn’t take any prescription drugs. When the recruiters learned the truth, they rejected him.

The vivid evidence of his mental state was posted on his Web site on America Online for anyone to see. It’s no wonder his neighbors didn’t detect the killer among them: Harris was holed up in his room, expressing himself in the electronic world. He wrote as though all the normal teenage hormones were channeled into the single emotion of rage.

From his Web page:

"I will rig up explosives all over a town and detonate each one of them at will after I mow down a whole [expletive] area full of you snotty ass rich [expletive] high strung godlike attitude having worthless pieces of [expletive] whores."

He did not rage against his parents. He hated life itself, society, people.

"You all better [expletive] hide in your houses because im comin for EVERYONE soon, and i WILL be armed to the [expletive] teeth and i WILL shoot to kill and i WILL [expletive] KILL EVERYTHING!"

The hatred spewed along the telephone wires, out into the community, across the planet.

But no one saw or heard a thing on South Reed Street.



The camera sweeps up a set of concrete steps on the southwest side of the school, focusing on a boy sitting on the landing.
The boy is Danny.
He wears Nike tennis shoes, denim shorts, and a green Sony T-shirt. It is a sunny day in August 1998. It is eight months before he will die at the bottom of these stairs, wearing this shirt, in the madness of April 20, 1999.
The camera zooms in on Danny.
“Can we ask you some questions,” another student, an unseen narrator, asks.
“Sure,” Danny says.
“Do you ever use the vending machines?” the narrator asks.
“Sometimes,” Danny says.
“And why do you use the vending machines?”
“Well, because I don’t feel like waiting in line to buy food,” Danny says.
“And how do you use the vending machines?”
“I put coins in and push buttons,” Danny says.

(A video made by Rachel Scott in August 1998, where she interviewed Daniel Rohrbough)


Shots were heard round the world when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed twelve fellow students and a teacher at Columbine High School before turning the guns on themselves on April 20, 1999.

Almost 13 years later, Illinois gets to vote on a legacy of the world’s most iconic school shooting, and I urge them to get it right.

I was one of the first reporters on scene on April 20, 1999 and covered the shootings as a staff writer at the now defunct Denver Rocky Mountain News. My colleagues and I broke major stories: the 911 tapes, the diversion files of the killers, and leaked crime scene photos. I wrote about the shootings for national publications including the Boston Globe, US News & World Report, and Chicago Tribune. On the 10-year anniversary of the shootings my definitive book was published Columbine: A True Crime Story (Ghost Road Press).

Another book, Columbine, by blogger Dave Cullen, is now in the running for the Illinois School Media Library Association Abraham Lincoln Award. The Lincoln is given “annually to the author of the book voted as most outstanding by participating students in grades nine through twelve in Illinois. The award is named for Abraham Lincoln, one of Illinois’ most famous residents and himself an avid reader and noted author,” according to the ISMLA Website. The award “is designed to encourage high school students to read for personal satisfaction and become familiar with authors of young adult and adult books.”Past winners have included Twilight by Stephanie Meyer (2008) and A Child Called “It” by Dave Pelzer (2005). The Lincoln award will be announced in March, one month shy of Columbine’s 13th anniversary.

Columbine, in many places, is a good attempt. But it has far too many serious shortcomings to be considered by ISMLA.

The nation’s most trusted media outlets may have misled ISMLA – and the rest of the country. Frank Rich, arguably the New York Times’ most prominent columnist when Cullen’s Columbine was also released on the 10-year anniversary, wrote, “Dave Cullen reaffirms Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris were instead ordinary American teenagers who worked at the local pizza joint, loved their parents and were popular among their classmates.” Aside from the shootings themselves, there are plenty of examples that the alleged bonhomie was not reciprocated. “You people could have shown more respect, treated me better, asked for knowledge or guidence [sic] more, treated me more like a senior and maybe I wouldn’t have been so ready to tear your [expletive] heads off,” Harris wrote a few months before the shootings in a typical diary entry.

(In another story New York Times literary critic Janet Maslin wrote, “Mr. Kass, whose tough account is made even sadder by the demise of The Rocky Mountain News in which his Columbine coverage appeared, has also delivered an intensive Columbine overview. Some of the issues he raises and information he digs up go unnoticed by Mr. Cullen.)

Los Angeles Timesbook editor David Ulin reviewed Columbine and heralded the supposed revelation that student Cassie Bernall was not shot dead in the library after saying “yes” she believed in God. The false Bernall story did quickly travel worldwide after Columbine.

But five months after the shootings, the media dissected the Bernall myth once police investigators themselves sorted through events. (“Cassie probably never said yes, or anything else,” The Washington Post reported in September 1999.)

Many reviews of Columbine were not just faulty. Among the most egregious errors in the book itself is portraying the killers as normal teens accepted into the student body, and Harris as among the most popular (at least with the girls). The killers’ alienation, however, was one of their greatest motivators. Five days before the shootings,a recruiter made clear to Harris and his family he could not join the Marines, at least while he was on the psychotropic drug Luvox. Cullen claims it never happened. Cullen attributes thoughts to the killers – implying that Klebold lost his nerve during the shooting and was in general nothing more than a blameless lackey. Yet both killers share equally.

It’s horrible that the nation’s major media outlets could not bring accurate analysis to reviewing one of the nation’s major social issues. But the librarians at ISMLA – and its voters – should be a backstop to such media shortcomings and not vote Columbine. - Jeff Kass (


Kris Otten became Eric’s best friend. He remembers the sleepovers at the Harris home. “It was a real comforting house. Everything was neat and organized,” Otten says. Both parents usually were home. Eric’s mother was always ready with sandwiches for the boys. They’d play computer games, dive off the couches and pillows in the family’s basement, build snow forts.
"The Eric Harris in Colorado that did these things was not the kid I knew in New York," Otten says. - Kris Otten, the friend that Eric mentioned in an essay where he saved him after a small accident.


The Columbine students who had escaped the school on the east side were taken through the backyard of a residence across the street and to a driveway where school buses were waiting to transport them to Leawood Elementary School. The Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office SORT team placed a deputy…

reblog this if you’re a serial killer/mass murderer-based blog and i’ll follow you

checking all blogs out, as well. i just need more on my dash. 


The initial panic in the cafeteria at Columbine


The initial panic in the cafeteria at Columbine