The Columbine High School massacre was a school shooting which occurred on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School inColumbine, an unincorporated area of Jefferson County in the State of Colorado. In addition to 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 bombs rigged in cars. Two senior students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, murdered a total of 12 students and one teacher. They injured 24 additional students, with three other people being injured while attempting to escape the school. The pair then committed suicide.
In one of his scheduled meetings with his psychiatrist, Eric Harris complained of depression, anger and possessing 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. At the time of his death, Harris had therapeutic Luvox levels in his system. Some analysts, such as psychiatrist Peter Breggin, have argued that one or both of these medications may have contributed to Harris's actions. Breggin said that side-effects of these drugs include increased aggression, loss of remorse, depersonalization, and mania.
As the shooting unfolded, Patti Nielson talked on the phone with emergency services, telling her story and urging students to take cover beneath desks. According to transcripts, her call was received by a 9-1-1 operator at 11:25:05 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, both of which exploded. They then threw another bomb into the Library Hallway; it exploded and damaged several lockers. At 11:29 a.m., Harris and Klebold entered the library, where a total of 52 students, two teachers and two librarians had concealed themselves.]
Harris yelled, "Get up!," in a tone so loud that he can be heard on Patti Nielson's 9-1-1 recording at 11:29:18. Klebold yelled, "Everybody get up!" Staff and students hiding in the library exterior rooms later said they also heard the gunmen say:
(Wearing a white baseball cap at Columbine was a tradition among sports team members.) When no one stood up, Harris said, "Fine, I'll start shooting anyway!" He fired his shotgun twice at a desk, not knowing that a student named Evan Todd was hiding beneath it. Todd was hit by wood splinters but was not seriously injured.
The shooters walked to the opposite side of the library, to two rows of computers. Todd hid behind the administrative counter. Kyle Velasquez, 16, was sitting at the north row of computers; police later said he had not hidden underneath the desk when Klebold and Harris had first entered the library, but had curled up under the computer table. Klebold shot and killed Velasquez, hitting him in the head and back. Klebold and Harris put down their ammunition-filled duffel bags at the south—or lower—row of computers and reloaded their weapons. They walked back toward the windows facing the outside staircase. Noticing police evacuating students outside the school, Harris said: "Let's go kill some cops." He and Klebold began to shoot out the windows in the direction of the police, who returned fire.]
After firing through the windows at evacuating students and the police, Klebold fired his shotgun at a nearby table, injuring three students named Patrick Ireland, Daniel Steepleton, and Makai Hall. He removed his trench coat. As Klebold fired at the three, Harris grabbed his shotgun and walked toward the lower row of computer desks, firing a single shot under the first desk without looking. He hit 14-year-old Steven Curnow with a mortal wound to the neck. Harris shot under the adjacent computer desk, injuring 17-year-old Kacey Ruegsegger in the hand, arm and shoulder. When she started gasping in pain, Harris told her to "quit your bitching".
Harris walked over to the table across from the lower computer row, slapped the surface twice and knelt, saying "Peek-a-boo" to 17-year-old Cassie Bernall before shooting her once in the head, killing her instantly. Harris had been holding the shotgun with one hand at this point and the weapon hit his face in recoil, breaking his nose. Three students who witnessed Bernall's death, including one who had been hiding beneath the table with her, have testified that Bernall did not exchange words with Harris after his initial taunt.]
After fatally shooting Bernall, Harris turned toward the next table, where Bree Pasquale sat next to the table rather than under it. Harris asked Pasquale if she wanted to die, and she responded with a plea for her life. Witnesses later reported that Harris seemed disoriented — possibly from the heavily bleeding wound to his nose. As Harris taunted Pasquale, Klebold noted Ireland trying to provide aid to Hall, who had suffered a wound to his knee. As Ireland tried to help Hall, his head rose above the table; Klebold shot him a second time, hitting him twice in the head and once in the foot. Ireland was knocked unconscious, but survived.
Klebold walked toward another set of tables, where he discovered 18-year-old Isaiah Shoels and 16-year-olds Matthew Kechter and Craig Scott (the younger brother of Rachel Scott), hiding under one table. All three were popular athletes. Klebold tried to pull Shoels out from under the table. He called to Harris, shouting, "Reb! There's a nigger over here". Harris left Pasquale and joined him. Klebold and Harris taunted Shoels for a few seconds, making derogatory racial comments. Harris knelt down and shot Shoels once in the chest at close range, killing him instantly. Klebold also knelt down and opened fire, hitting and killing Kechter. Scott was uninjured; he lay in the blood of his friends, feigning death. Harris turned and threw a CO2 bomb at the table where Hall, Steepleton, and Ireland were located. It landed on Steepleton's thigh, and Hall quickly threw it away.
Harris walked toward the bookcases between the west and center section of tables in the library. He jumped on one and shook it, then shot in an unknown direction within that general area. Klebold walked through the main area, past the first set of bookcases, the central desk area and a second set of bookcases into the east area. Harris walked from the bookcase he had shot from, past the central area to meet Klebold. The latter shot at a display case located next to the door, then turned and shot toward the closest table, hitting and injuring 17-year-old Mark Kintgen in the head and shoulder. He turned toward the table to his left and fired, injuring 18-year-olds Lisa Kreutz and Valeen Schnurr with the same shotgun bullet. Klebold then moved toward the same table and fired with the TEC-9, killing 18-year-old Lauren Townsend.
Harris approached another table where two girls had hidden. He bent down to look at them and dismissed them as "pathetic". The two shooters approached an empty table where they reloaded their weapons. Schnurr, who had been badly wounded by gunshot wounds and shrapnel, began to cry out, "Oh, God help me!" Klebold approached her and asked her if she believed in God. Schnurr first replied "no" and then "yes", in an attempt to appease Klebold. In response, Klebold asked her why; she said that it was what her family believed. He taunted her, reloaded his shotgun, then walked away. The slightly injured Todd also reported that at this point, Klebold had said, "God is gay." (The exchange between Schnurr and Klebold was subsequently, and incorrectly, attributed to the verbal exchange between Harris and Cassie Bernall.)
Harris then moved to another table where he fired twice, injuring 16-year-olds Nicole Nowlen and John Tomlin. When Tomlin attempted to move away from the table, Klebold kicked him. Harris then taunted Tomlin's attempt at escape before Klebold shot the youth repeatedly, killing him. Harris then walked back over to the other side of the table where Lauren Townsend lay dead. Behind the table, a 16-year-old girl named Kelly Fleming had, like Bree Pasquale, sat next to the table rather than beneath it due to a lack of space. Harris shot Fleming with his shotgun, hitting her in the back and killing her instantly. He shot at the table behind Fleming, hitting Townsend and Kreutz again, and wounding 18-year-old Jeanna Park. An autopsy later revealed that Townsend died from the earlier gunshots inflicted by Klebold.
The shooters moved to the center of the library, where they continued to reload their weapons at a table there. Harris noticed a student hiding nearby and asked him to identify himself. It was John Savage, an acquaintance of Klebold's. Savage said his name and asked Klebold what they were doing, to which he answered, "Oh, just killing people." Savage asked if they were going to kill him. Possibly because of a fire alarm, Klebold said, "What?" Savage asked again whether they were going to kill him. Klebold hesitated, then told him to leave. Savage fled immediately, and escaped through the library's main entrance.
After Savage had left, Harris turned and fired his carbine at the table directly north of where they'd been, grazing the ear of 15-year-old Daniel Mauser. Harris fired again and hit Mauser in the face at close range, killing him. Both shooters moved south and fired randomly under another table, critically injuring two 17-year-olds, Jennifer Doyle and Austin Eubanks, and fatally wounding 17-year-old Corey DePooter. DePooter, the last to die in the massacre, at 11:35, was later credited with having kept his friends calm during the ordeal.
There were no further injuries after 11:35 a.m. They had killed 10 people in the library and wounded 12. Of the 56 library hostages, 34 remained unharmed. The shooters had enough ammunition to have killed them all.
At this point, several witnesses later said they heard Harris and Klebold comment that they no longer found a thrill in shooting their victims. Klebold was quoted as saying, "Maybe we should start knifing people, that might be more fun." (Both youths were equipped with knives.) They moved away from the table and went toward the library's main counter. Harris threw a Molotov cocktail toward the southwestern end of the library but it failed to explode. Harris went around the east side of the counter and Klebold joined him from the west; they converged close to where Todd had moved after having been wounded. Harris and Klebold mocked Todd, who was wearing a white (jock) hat. When the shooters demanded to see his face, Todd partly lifted his hat so his face would remain obscured. When Klebold asked Todd to give him one reason why he should not kill him, Todd said: "I don't want trouble." Klebold said, "You [Todd] used to call me a fag. Who's a fag now?!" The shooters continued to taunt Todd and debated killing him, but they eventually walked away.
(ZERO DAY~ BEN COCCIO~ 2003)
(ELEPHANT~ GUS VAN SANT~ 2003)
At approximately 12:08 p.m, Patti Nielson, who had locked herself inside a break room with a student and library staff, overheard Harris and Klebold suddenly shout in unison: "One! Two! Three!" These words were followed by the sound of gunfire. Both had committed suicide: Harris by firing his shotgun through the roof of his mouth; Klebold by shooting himself in the left temple with his TEC-9 semi-automatic handgun.
Patrick Ireland had regained and lost consciousness several times after being shot by Klebold. He crawled to the library windows where, at 2:38 p.m., he stretched out the window, falling into the arms of two SWAT team members standing on the roof of an emergency vehicle. They were later criticized for allowing Ireland to drop more than seven feet to the ground, while doing nothing to try to ensure he could be lowered to the ground safely or break his fall. 18-year-old Lisa Kreutz, shot in the shoulder, arms, hand and thigh, remained in the library. In a subsequent interview, she recalled hearing a comment such as, "You in the library," around the time of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold's suicides. Kreutz lay in the library, keeping track of time by the sound of the school's bells, until police arrived. She had tried to move but became light-headed. She was finally evacuated at 3:22 pm, along with Ms. Nielson, Brian Anderson and the three library staff who had hidden in the break room.
In the weeks following the Columbine shootings, media reports about Harris and Klebold portrayed them as part of a Gothic cult. An increased suspicion of Gothic subculture subsequently manifested. Harris and Klebold had initially been thought to be members of "The Trenchcoat Mafia;" an informal club within Columbine High School. Later, such characterizations were considered incorrect.]
Unjustified blame for the shootings was directed on a number of metal or 'dark music' bands such as KMFDM and Rammstein. The majority of that blame was directed at Marilyn Mansonand his eponymous band. After being linked by news outlets and pundits with sensationalist headlines such as "Killers Worshipped Rock Freak Manson" and "Devil-Worshipping Maniac Told Kids To Kill", many came to believe that Manson's music and imagery were, indeed, Harris and Klebold's sole motivation, despite later reports that the two were not fans.]
In the immediate aftermath, the band canceled the remaining North American dates of their Rock Is Dead Tour out of respect for the victims, while steadfastly maintaining that music, movies, books or video games were not to blame, Manson stated.