To the policemen, paramedics, family and friends waiting outside, the horror of what was happening unfolded slowly. With 2,000 students attending Columbine High School, no one saw the whole event clearly. Thus, reports from witnesses escaping the school were skewed and fragmentary.
Law enforcement personnel tried to rescue those injured outside but Klebold and Harris shot at them from the library. No one saw the two gunmen commit suicide so no one was sure it was over until police were able to clear the building.
Students that had escaped were sent via school bus over to Leawood Elementary School where they were interviewed by police and then put on a stage for parents to claim. As the day wore on, the parents that remained were those of the victims. Confirmation of those that had been killed did not come until a day later.
Because of the large number of bombs and explosives thrown by the gunmen, the SWAT and police could not immediately enter the building to evacuate the remaining students and faculty that were hiding inside. Some had to wait hours to be rescued. Patrick Ireland, who had been shot two times in the head by the gunmen in the library, attempted to escape at 2:38 p.m. out the library window - two stories up. He fell into the waiting arms of SWAT while T.V. cameras showed the scene across the country. (Miraculously, Ireland survived the ordeal.)
Dave Sanders, the teacher who had helped hundreds of students escape and who had been shot around 11:26 a.m., lay dying in the science room. The students in the room tried to provide first aid, were given instructions over the phone to give emergency aid, and placed signs in the windows to get an emergency crew inside quickly, but no one arrived. It wasn't until 2:47 p.m. when he was just taking his last breaths that SWAT reached his room.
In all, Klebold and Harris killed thirteen people (twelve students and one teacher). Between the two of them, they fired 188 rounds of ammunition (67 by Klebold and 121 by Harris). Of the 76 bombs that Klebold and Harris threw during their 47-minute siege on Columbine, 30 exploded and 46 did not explode. In addition, they had planted 13 bombs in their cars (12 in Klebold's and 1 in Harris') that did not explode and 8 bombs at home. Plus, of course, the two propane bombs they planted in the cafeteria that did not explode.
Who Is to Blame?
No one can say for sure why Klebold and Harris committed such a horrific crime. Many people have come up with theories including being picked on in school, violent video games (Doom), violent movies (Natural Born Killers), music, racism, Goth, problematic parents, depression, and more.
It is hard to pinpoint one trigger that started these two boys on a murderous rampage. They worked hard to fool all those around them for over a year. Surprisingly, about a month before the event, the Klebold family took a four-day road trip to the University of Arizona, where Dylan had been accepted for the following year. During the trip, the Klebold's didn't notice anything strange or unusual about Dylan. Counselors and others also didn't notice anything unusual.
Looking back, there were telltale hints and clues that something was seriously wrong. Videotapes, journals, guns and bombs in their rooms would have been easily found if the parents had looked. Harris had made a website with hateful epithets that could have been followed up on.
The Columbine Massacre changed the way society looked at children and at schools. Violence was no longer just an after-school, inner-city activity. It could happen anywhere.
1. Eric Harris as quoted in Cullen, Dave, "'Kill Mankind. No one should survive,'" Salon.com 23 Sept. 1999. 11 Apr. 2003 [http://www.salon.com/news/feature/1999/09/23/journal/index.html].
2. As quoted in Cullen, Dave, "Columbine Report Released," Salon.com 16 May 2000. 11 Apr. 2003 [http://dir.salon.com/news/feature/2000/05/16/columbine/index.html?pn=1].
3. Dylan Klebold as quoted in "Findings of Library Events," Columbine Report 15 May 2000. 11 Apr. 2003 [http://abcnews.go.com/sections/us/columbine/LIBRARY_TEXT.htm].
Bai, Matt. "Anatomy of a Massacre." Newsweek. 3 May 1999: 25-31.
Columbine Report. Jefferson County's Sheriff's Office. 15 May 2000. 11 Apr. 2003 [http://abcnews.go.com/sections/us/columbine/TOC.htm].
"Columbine: Hope From Heartbreak." Rocky Mountain News. 11 Apr. 2003 [http://www.rockymountainnews.com/drmn/columbine/0,1299,DRMN_106,00.html].
Cullen, Dave. "Columbine Report Released." Salon.com. 16 May 2000. 11 Apr. 2003 [http://dir.salon.com/news/feature/2000/05/16/columbine/index.html?pn=1].
Cullen, Dave. "Inside the Columbine High Investigation." Salon.com. 23 Sept. 1999. 11 Apr. 2003 [. http://www.salon.com/news/feature/1999/09/23/columbine/].
Cullen, Dave. "'Kill Mankind. No one should survive.'" Salon.com. 23 Sept. 1999. 11 Apr. 2003 [. http://www.salon.com/news/feature/1999/09/23/journal/index.html].
Dickenson, Amy. "Where Were the Parents?" Time. 3 May 1999.
Gibbs, Nancy. "The Next Door: A Special Report on the Colorado School Massacre." Time. 3 May 1999: 25-36.
Levy, Steven. "Loitering on the Dark Side." Newsweek. 3 May 1999: 39.