Category: News Archive

Columbine: Anatomy of a Coverup

dave-thomas-columbine-coverup1

April 30, 1999:

  • JCSO lieutenant John Kiekbusch (center)
  • Jeffco DA Dave Thomas (right)
  • Sheriff Stone did not appear

tell the official story of Columbine at a press conference.

Anatomy of a Coverup

Days after the Columbine shootings, Jeffco officials were already lying about what they knew. What about now?

By Alan Prendergast

Originally published: September 30, 2004

It took five years, a state grand jury and key evidence from a reluctant witness, but families who lost children in the attack on Columbine High School finally had their worst suspicions confirmed: Top Jefferson County leaders knew something awful about prior police investigations of killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, and they’d known it since shortly after the 1999 shootings.

jefferson-sheriff-no-known-evidence-report

Excerpt from Bomb Search Warrant:

columbine-bomb-search-warrant-300x2251The officials knew plenty, denied most of it, and hid as much as they could for as long as they could. Called by Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar, the grand jury released a summary of its findings two weeks ago. Although the probe of missing police documents resulted in no indictments, it did raise questions about “suspicious” actions by theJ efferson County Sheriff’s Office brass, including the shredding of a large pile of Columbine files.

Most stunning of all, the report charged that a few days after the massacre, several high-ranking county officials met secretly and resolved to suppress key documents stemming from the JCSO’s earlier investigation of Harris, to treat them as if they didn’t exist — in short, to lie about them.

“It’s amazing,” says Brian Rohrbough, whose son, Dan, died on the steps of Columbine. “While we were planning a funeral, these guys were already planning a cover-up.”

Several former and current county officials have disputed the grand jury report, including District Attorney Dave Thomas, who attended the private meeting but has disavowed any role in the subsequent cover-up. (Thomas is now running for Congress, and the Colorado Democratic Party has bemoaned the fact that he’s the target of a smear campaign by unholy,unnamed forces.)

Yet the trail of duplicity surrounding the Columbine files is far more extensive, and disturbing, than the report indicates. In their quest to protect their own hides and careers, a pack of Jeffco bureaucrats misled victims’ families and the public, trashed the state’s public-records law, and thumbed their noses at civil subpoenas and court orders. The conspiracy of silence held fast for 64 months, until the threat of criminal prosecution finally cracked it. Why would so-called public servants do such a thing? The delicately worded grand jury report doesn’t delve into such matters, but it’s clear that the county had a major public-relations and legal nightmare on its hands on April 20, 1999, and that some officials were grappling with it even before the smoke and screams had dissipated at Columbine. Thirteen people were dead,another two dozen wounded, all at the hands of Klebold and Harris — who’d been the subject of several complaints to local police over the previous two years.

columbine-legal-issues-before-shooting

Some aspects of the pair’s contacts with law enforcement, such as their 1998 arrest for burglary and participation in a juvenile diversion program run by the district attorney, were bound to come out soon. But the most embarrassing case was one that never led to a prosecution: The reports filed by Randy and Judy Brown against Harris, who’d boasted on his website about blowing up pipe bombs and had threatened to kill the Browns’ oldest son, Brooks.

Almost a year before the shootings, JCSO bomb investigator Mike Guerra looked into the matter, even drafting an affidavit for a warrant to search Harris’s home. But the warrant was never submitted to a judge, and the investigation was abandoned after Guerra was reportedly told by a supervisor, Lieutenant John Kiekbusch, that he didn’t have enough evidence to proceed.

Given the arsenal in his room, as well as writings dealing with the planned attack on Columbine that Harris was assembling a year before the shootings, it’s possible that pursuing the search warrant could have averted the whole tragedy (“I’m Full of Hate and I Love It,”December 6, 2001).

Several JCSO officials were evidently briefed on Guerra’s affidavit hours after the shootings. Former undersheriff John Dunaway told Salazar’s investigators that he discussed the affidavit with District Attorney Thomas as early as the day of the attack. He thought he had “several discussions” with Thomas about the matter over the next few days, in which Thomas assured him that Guerra never had probable cause for a warrant. At the same time, investigator Kate Battan used material from Guerra’s investigation to help prepare the search warrants that were served on the Harris and Klebold homes after the attack; sealed by court order, those warrants weren’t made public for several more years.

A few days after the shootings, according to the grand jury report, the upper echelon of the sheriff’s office — including Sheriff John Stone, Dunaway, Kiekbusch, public information officer Steve Davis and the hapless Guerra — met quietly with Thomas, Assistant DA Kathy Sasak,County Attorney Frank Hutfless and two of his assistants, William Tuthill and Lily Oeffler, and others.

The meeting was held in an out-of-the-way Jefferson County Open Space office, and the principal item on the agenda was Guerra’s affidavit. Reporters were already sniffing around the Brown complaint; the JCSO had first denied that any report was taken, then decided to release it, minus the subsequent investigative paperwork.

By the end of the meeting,authorities had decided that they would not disclose the existence of the Guerra affidavit,either. Thomas maintains that he was at the meeting simply to render an opinion on the probable cause issue; he insists he didn’t know of the decision to suppress the document. But in the days that followed, the sheriff’s office didn’t just omit mention of the affidavit. Their people lied about what the Browns told them and the extent of their investigation of Harris,misleading the world press about it all. And Dave Thomas went along for the ride.

At a press conference on April 30, Steve Davis read a press release that purported to explain what deputies did in response to the Browns’ complaints about Harris. The statement, drafted by Lieutenant Jeff Shrader, was the start of a long-running disinformation campaign targeting the Browns. It contained several statements that simply weren’t true, some of them flatly contradicted by the information in Guerra’s affidavit. But then, nobody was going to mention that damning piece of paper. (Stung by the grand jury’s criticism of his role, Shrader issued a response of the I-was-only-following-orders variety: Since County Attorney Hutfless and Thomas both thought Guerra’s affidavit wouldn’t stand up in court, “Mr. Shrader gave due deference to the conclusions of these officials.”)

Fielding questions from reporters, Kiekbusch reiterated some of the same falsehoods. No, the investigator hadn’t been able to find any pipe bombs in the county that matched Harris’s description of the ones he was building. (Guerra had found one.) No, there was no record that the Browns had met with investigator John Hicks. (The affidavit noted the meeting.) No, the investigators hadn’t been able to locate information about Harris on the Internet. (Guerra would later tell Salazar’s people that a JCSO computer expert had been unable to access the website but did find Harris’s AOL profile.)

The man who by some accounts had pulled the plug on Guerra’s investigation was now assuring everyone there was no investigation worth mentioning. District Attorney Thomas stood at the podium with Kiekbusch and Davis and took it all in,then answered some questions himself. At no point did he contradict the torrent of mendacity flowing from the sheriff’s office — which he knew to be mendacity, evidently, having been consulted on the Guerra affidavit extensively at this point.

Instead, Thomas added to the misinformation, stating that prior to the shootings, no one had connected the pipe-bomb case to the two youths who were in his diversion program. This is one of the biggest remaining myths about Columbine. Actually, Hicks had mentioned the prior burglary case to the Browns; Guerra recalls finding the case in his own check of Harris’s record (despite the JCSO claim that Harris cleared the computer check); and an investigator from Thomas’s own office had found the burglary case in 1998 after being contacted by Judy Brown about the pipe bombs.

Yet even though the kid making bombs and death threats was already on probation, nobody did anything about it. “I think it’s very difficult and painful to look back and ask a lot of questions about what could have prevented this,” Thomas told the assembled press. But Thomas was hardly alone in his complicity.

Over the next two years, the Browns and news organizations filed numerous open-records requests with the county attorney, trying to track down the missing pieces of the reports generated by the Browns’ complaints about Harris. Tuthill and Oeffler invariably responded that the documents did not exist, that everything connected with the Browns’ complaints had already been released.

Lawyers preparing civil suits on behalf of victims’ families got the same response. Actually, copies of many of the records in question had been provided to the county attorney shortly after the shootings, in anticipation of future litigation — and then locked away. County Attorney Tuthill, who replaced Hutfless in 2001, had no trouble locating his office’s copies of the “missing” records when the attorney general’s investigators came calling a few months ago. The Browns also requested an internal investigation from the sheriff’s office, in an effort to clear up discrepancies in their record hunt and the rumors they were hearing of a botched search warrant. As the Browns recall it, the officer handling the probe seemed more interested in pumping them to find out where they’d heard that such a document existed.

In a letter dated August 14, 2000, Undersheriff Dunaway airily dismissed their complaint: “There is no indication that anyone tampered with or withheld entry of information related to Eric Harris. “Months earlier, Kiekbusch told Westword that the records the Browns were after had either been routinely purged from the system or had never existed.

But that was long before the files would have been purged, under the JCSO’s record-retention policy, and no one has ever been able to explain why the department would purge records that had some bearing on the largest criminal investigation in Colorado history.

In any case, the “purged files” explanation was just another piece of misdirection; the grand jury learned that the sheriff’s office had kept copies of the documents, too, and had withheld them — even, apparently, from Stone’s successors as sheriff, Russ Cook and Ted Mink — until Salazar’s men examined them last January.

The hide-and-seek game over Guerra’s affidavit continued until the spring of 2001, when producers from 60 Minutes II, armed with concrete proof that the affidavit existed, went to court to demand its release. (Point of disclosure: I served as a paid consultant to CBS News on the project and was involved in that court battle.)

The proof came, oddly enough, in a letter Dave Thomas had recently sent to the Browns; after taking a leisurely five months to respond to their demands for a grand jury probe of the missing files, Thomas spilled the beans by acknowledging that “a search warrant draft was started” by Guerra.

Braced by 60 Minutes II about the letter, a befuddled Thomas said he was under the impression that the Guerra affidavit was old news. To the chagrin of the county’s attorneys,Judge Brooks Jackson ordered the document to be released.

The JCSO tried to save face with an Orwellian press release that declared, “A few days after the Columbine shootings, the Sheriff’s Office disclosed the existence of the so-called ‘secret’ search warrant affidavit” –when, in fact, what had happened was a conspiracy not to disclose it (“Chronology of a Big FatLie,” April 19, 2001). But other documents remained hidden. It was part of a larger campaign of obfuscation and outright deceit that encompassed not only the prior investigation of Harris, but the police response to the attack; timelines were distorted or destroyed, dispatch logs and other vital evidence deep-sixed (“In Search of Lost Time,” May 2, 2002).

As long as the lawsuits against the county filed by victims’ families were stopped dead in their tracks, what difference did it make how this was done?In an effort to dispel the suspicion that the county was, um, hiding something, two years ago Thomas and Salazar agreed to co-chair the Columbine Records Review Task Force, an effort to see what remaining confidential documents from the investigation might be released.

Unfortunately, several members of the task force — notably, Thomas, Sasak, Oeffler and Battan– were perceived as having a stake in not disclosing Columbine’s remaining secrets. Oeffler andBattan soon resigned from the task force, while Thomas and Sasak soldiered on.

But it wasn’t the task force that uncovered the secret meeting and the lies that followed. Last fall, a 1997 police report on Harris suddenly surfaced, prompting a mortified Sheriff Mink to ask Salazar to investigate. Over the course of two interviews, Guerra offered investigators somewhat contradictory accounts of what he’d done and who he’d shown his affidavit to.

In a third interview, he finally acknowledged the Open Space meeting and its purpose. It was “kind of one of those cover-your-ass meetings, I guess,” he said. Guerra said he was told not to discuss his affidavit with anyone outside the county attorney’s office.

His file disappeared from his desk for a few days, then reappeared. His affidavit was mysteriously deleted from his computer files, but he suspected that other people at the meeting kept their own copies. Stone, Dunaway and Kiekbusch are no longer at the sheriff’s office. All have emphatically denied any wrongdoing; contrary to the recollections of Guerra and another officer, Kiekbusch told investigators he never saw Guerra’s affidavit until after the shootings.

Thomas and Oeffler didn’t respond to requests for comment. The Browns say they’re grateful that the grand jury released its report, but they’re also frustrated with the narrow scope of the investigation. “It’s unbelievable that you can have this much evidence of a cover-up and yet no criminal charges,” says Randy Brown. “People who were in that meeting lied about my family and what they knew for five years.”

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Unanswered Questions

THE UNANSWERED QUESTIONS OF THE COLUMBINE HIGH SCHOOL MASSACRE (4-20-99)

The seventh anniversary of the Columbine High School(Littleton, Colo) massacre is upon us. Though police blamed it on only two shooters–Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold–involvement by unindicted co-conspirators is highly likely. These questions remain:

  1. Why did numerous ear-witnesses say at least one attacker was firing a fully-automatic weapon?
  2. Why did police concentrate on setting up a perimeter at the same time dispatch(via phone) is hearing the sound of gunshots within the school?
  3. Why did it take police so long to enter the school, and why did it take almost three hours for them to reach the library, the area where the shooters were last seen? Who gave the orders not to go in?
  4. Why did over 100 eye- and ear- witnesses dispute the official theory of only two shooters? Why did over 40 of those witnesses identify other participants BY NAME?
  5. If the two shooters committed suicide shortly after noon, as police claim, how come at least 35 witnesses saw or heard suspects/gunshots/explosions after that time?
  6. Why are there conflicting eyewitness accounts on the place and manner in which at least four of the dead victims were killed? Were victims being moved around? Was the crime scene being rearranged?
  7. If left-handed Klebold shot himself in the left temple, why was his suicide weapon found clutched in his right hand?
  8. How did students manage to keep seriously wounded teacher Dave Sanders alive for more than three hours while awaiting rescue, yet he was dead within 20 minutes of the police taking control of him? His corpse was later found with his shirt off. Is that first-aid? Or a sure-fire way of sending someone into shock?
  9. What was the motive? Why would two teens who were not bullied, did not hate everyone, and were not psychopathic suddenly decide to destroy the lives of a dozen fellow students and themselves just six weeks before graduation?
  10. Why would Harris and Klebold plan for a suicide mission and at the same time make normal plans for a post 4-20 future? Like seeking help on an English class essay from a teacher a few days before the attack, like making a date to see a movie the day after, like putting in a work schedule for the next week, like going to an out-of-town college with your dad to pick out a dorm room, like making plans to visit your old friends in New York.
  11. Where is the gun shot residue(GSR) test evidence for Harris and Klebold and the other suspects?
  12. Why was fingerprint evidence for Harris and Klebold not found on all but two of the hundreds of obects gathered at the scene? Whose fingerprints, if any, were found on the weapons seized?
  13. Why does the official story claim, without a shred of evidence, that it was Harris and Klebold that set the South Wadsworth diversionary bomb (an incendiary device that exploded a couple of miles away from the school minutes before the shooting started)?
  14. Why did authorities claim the two shotguns seized had no serial numbers when later documents clearly show they did have serial numbers? Why did they not try to find out who sold Harris and Klebold the Hi-Point 9mm rifle and the pump-action shotgun that were used in the shooting?
  15. Were the school administrators warned, as rumored? Who was Principle Frank DeAngelis looking for, as reported by one student who saw him running up and down the interior cafeteria stairs right before the shooting broke out?
  16. Why did a science teacher tell his students that they had been expecting a fire drill? Was a bomb found in a trash can on 4-19, as one source indicated? Were bomb threats phoned into the school on the morning of 4-20, as two others claimed?
  17. Why didn’t the Final Report conclude that shooters entered Science rooms 1 and 8, when numerous shell casings were taken from these areas?
  18. Why didn’t the Final Report mention the brief exit of a shooter on the east side, according to many eyewitnesses?
  19. If the person seen on the roof of the school was a repairman, as police claim, why do witnesses say he was holding a weapon? Were shell casings found there, as some said?
  20. Who scheduled ‘crisis training’ drills at Columbine High Schol(CHS) in the weeks before and what was the exact nature of this training?
  21. What was a Denver police officer and a Jefferson County sheriff doing at Columbine High Shcool that morning before the shooting started?
  22. What does reputed video evidence from the library and admin office areas show? Why does local media refuse to release on-scene video footage from the first half-hour of the incident?
  23. What happened to all the evidence taken from the computers of the trenchcoat mafia gang?
  24. Where are dozens of missing interviews of students, especially those in the science hall? Why are there still thousands of pages of investgatory materials that have never been made public, including hundreds of reports of non-Columbine witnesses and tipsters?
  25. Why has the school district’s own report on the shooting, which included the extensive disciplinary records of the trenchcoat mafia associates, not been made public?
  26. Did investigators even try to interview Harris’ psychologist, the man perhaps best positioned to know his mental state at the time?
  27. Why did investigators show a remarkable lack of curiousity about connections with numerous similar school violence-related incidents occuring around the same time in the metro-Denver area and around the country?
  28. Why did LAPD and Los Angeles Sheriff’s Office personnel travel to the scene afterwards? What was the subject of a 10-minute phone call made by the NYPD to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office on 4-20?
  29. Who invited the FBI and the ATF to the scene?
  30. Why was the US Attorney’s Office (federal) consulted on ‘prosecutive decisions’ for this local crime?
  31. Why was all but one of the seven ‘investigatory’ teams headed or co-headed by an FBI man? (the one exception was a team headed by a CBI(Colorado Bureau of Investigation) man, who was himself ‘ex’-FBI) Was the entire crime scene ‘federalized’ soon after the shooting started, under powers granted by the ‘Anti-terrorism Act’ (“for the protection of the people and the state”) signed by President Clinton exactly three years before- on April 20, 1996?
  32. Why did FBI special agent Dwayne Fusilier not recuse himself from the investigation, as his son helped make a Columbine school video two years before that eerily mimicked the shooting?
  33. What were two high-ranking military figures (a colonel and a general) in cami uniforms doing at the scene? Why was a memorial service at a public park afterwards ringed by military trucks? Who authorized a flyover by military jets and why?

(9094)

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DENVER – Surprising testimony in a police brutality trial has revealed an alleged cover-up in a case that the Denver City Council has already settled for almost $1 million.

Officer testifies to alleged cover-up in police brutality case

by Julie Hayden

FOX 31 news-March 10, 2009

DENVER – Surprising testimony in a police brutality trial has revealed an alleged cover-up in a case that the Denver City Council has already settled for almost $1 million.

It came in the trial of veteran Denver gang officer Charles Porter who is accused of felony first degree assault in the beating of 16-year-old Juan Vasquez.

The incident happened last April near 37th and Pecos. Officer Cameron Moerman told jurors he had arrested Vasquez after a foot chase, and the teen was handcuffed, face down on the ground. He says suddenly Porter started jumping up and down on the teen’s back.

Vasquez suffered serious injuries to his internal organs and was hospitalized for more than a week. Moerman testified he was “shocked” at Porter’s actions and called them “excessive” and “unnecessary” force.

He said he did not mention Porter’s actions to anyone else or put them in the police reports. He says he did not want to get Porter in trouble, When the prosecutor asked if there was pressure within the Police Department not to report negative things on other officers, Moerman paused and replied “I don’t know how to answer that.”

But he added he did feel there was a ‘good possibility” he would be negatively impacted if he did report it. The case has already cost Denver taxpayers nearly one million dollars, in a civil court settlement with the teen.

Porter’s trial continues tomorrow.

The Police Independent Monitor, Chief and Mayor’s office say they cannot comment on anything until the case is concluded.

(807)

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10th Circuit Ruling Keeps Columbine Depositions Under Seal

It’s been almost 10 years since the Columbine High School shootings, and still no one outside the legal teams at odds in a pair of long-settled civil suits has seen the depositions of the parents of shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. And that’s the way it’s going to stay for at least 20 years, thanks to a three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Holland & Hart partner A. Bruce Jones came into the case relatively late on behalf of the family of Columbine student Mike Taylor, who was seriously wounded in the shootings. Taylor’s family sued a drug company who had manufactured a psychotropic drug taken by one of the shooters prior to the massacre. That suit came alongside another brought by the families of two murdered students against the parents of Harris and Klebold.

The two suits were settled quickly, but not before lawyers in both deposed the killer’s parents. Under the terms of a unique protective order, a special master controlled access to court records in the cases — including the depositions.

“I have never seen a case where discovery materials were so closely monitored,” Jones says.

Various parties have sued to have those records opened up, on the basis of their historical value and the possibility that they could help experts prevent similar attacks in the future. Last year, a federal judge ruled that the records should belong to the National Archives and Records Administration, but that they should remain sealed for another 20 years.

Two sets of plaintiffs appealed to the 10th Circuit, but for very different reasons.

The parents of two of the murdered students — represented by a local boutique headed by Barry K. Arrington — argued that the depositions belonged to the parents and not the National Archives. Jones, meanwhile, argued that an expert on child violence should be able to examine the depositions immediately, and says he would have been open to having the records available in the National Archives at some point.

“That’s better than essentially having them buried for the next 20 years,” Jones says.

On Monday, a three-judge panel ruled 2-1 to uphold the district court’s ruling to transfer the documents to the National Archives but keep them under seal for another 20 years.

One strange twist: the 2-1 majority said it was difficult for them to open up the deposition records because they themselves didn’t have the chance to read them — even though the judge at the district level, Lewis Babcock, read the depositions as part of his ruling in the case. The majority chastised Jones for not asking Babcock to include the depositions in its filing with the appeals court.

“I was really whip-sawed by that,” Jones says. “That seems off the wall to me.”

Jones says Taylor’s family probably found him because of his role in representing the family of Dave Sanders, a teacher slain in the attacks. The Holland team on that case argued that the Jefferson County Sheriff’s department violated Sanders’ civil rights by failing to rescue him as he lay wounded inside the school for several hours. Sanders’ daughter settled the case for $1.5 million, and her lawyers, including Jones, agreed never to discuss what they learned about the shootings, according to this story from theRocky Mountain News.

This article first appeared on The Am Law Daily blog on AmericanLawyer.com.

(1991)

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Columbine Report Stirs Anger

DENVER, Feb. 26, 2004
Columbine Report Stirs Anger
State AG: Authorities Had 15 Contacts With The Killers
By Jarrett Murphy

(CBS/AP) Authorities had at least 15 contacts with the Columbine High School killers dating back two years before their murderous attack, the state attorney general said Thursday in a report that angered families of the victims.

Attorney General Ken Salazar also said he is investigating whether authorities tried to cover up what they knew about the rampage. However, he did not blame the Jefferson County sheriff’s office for missing warning signs about Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, and said he found no evidence of negligence.

But the attorney general said his investigation is not complete and has grown since he was asked to look into contacts between the killers and investigators beginning in 1997, two years before the attack.

Salazar said his staff interviewed two former sheriff’s officials just this week. He also said authorities are still trying to find a file detailing a search warrant affidavit for Harris’ home after a pipe bomb was found along a bike path in 1998 — a search that never took place.

“We are still looking for that file,” Salazar said.

Asked if he thought there was a cover-up, he said: “I do not know today.” Speaking in a room with somber families of the dead staring at him from the back wall, Salazar promised to issue a supplemental report.

Harris, 18, and Klebold, 17, killed 12 students and a teacher before taking their own lives at the school near Littleton on April 20, 1999. It remains the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.

“In the end, none of the many efforts to open up the Columbine records, including today’s activity, will mean much beyond passing curiosity if we cannot learn from this tragedy,” Salazar said at a news conference.

Salazar said his investigators looked at how sheriff’s officials reacted to 1997 complaints about Harris, from a thrown snowball that cracked a car window to a prank telephone call.

There were more ominous signs, too: Authorities have said an anonymous tip that year led a deputy to a Web site run by Harris that said the two teens had built pipe bombs and concluded: “Now our only problem is to find the place that will be ‘ground zero.”‘

Family members said Salazar’s report failed to give them the answers they crave.

“This raises more questions than it answers,” said Dawn Anna, whose daughter, Lauren Townsend, died at Columbine. “I would disagree that there was no negligence.”

Nearby, more than 150 people lined up to view a vast and chilling display of evidence — the murder weapons, bullet fragments, the chairs and tables where the victims were gunned down.

The collection includes computer screens, shell casings and pieces of clothing sealed in bags. It features everything from the guns the teenage attackers used to kill classmates, to the furniture from the cafeteria where many died, to arrest and autopsy reports, reports CBS News Correspondent Bob McNamara.

There are also amateur videos of Harris and Klebold, similar to the chilling images released last year of the pair practicing with their deadly arsenal six weeks before the school attack.

A message board put up in a school window that day still says in blue Magic Marker: “1 bleeding to death.”

Authorities also released two videos, one of the anxious scene in a park across the street from the school that day, and another, 90-minute compilation of videos made by Harris and Klebold.

Much of the material is headed for the state archives. Relatives of the dead and survivors of the horrific attack saw much of it for the first time in a private viewing Wednesday.

“This new information isn’t likely to change the legal dynamic involved in this tragedy. The lawsuits brought years ago by the family members of victims were either dismissed or settled or both. And I’m not sure there is anything in this newly-released batch of evidence that would permit anyone to reopen their case,” says CBSNews.com Legal Analyst Andrew Cohen.

“Seeing the evidence and information, I think, reinforces the notion that many survivors and family members of victims have — that the authorities missed plenty of opportunities to do more to reign in Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold before they killed all those people. But from a legal perspective, it won’t change a thing — the law in Colorado and elsewhere is very protective of public officials in these sorts of circumstances,” says Cohen.

Darrell Scott, whose daughter Rachel was killed in the massacre, told CBS News Early Show that seeing the evidence was “impossible to fully describe.”

“It was an emotional event for everyone there to walk in and see,” he told the “And probably the most emotional for any one of us would be to see the weapon that killed our child or that killed the teacher.”

A key part of Salazar’s investigation looked at work done by former sheriff’s deputy John Hicks. Sheriff Ted Mink asked Salazar to investigate why a 1997 report by Hicks — found in a folder last October — was never reviewed as part of the probe into the shootings.

Hicks also looked into a 1998 complaint that Harris posted a death threat against a fellow student on the Web site, along with descriptions of pipe bombs he and Klebold built.

Randy and Judy Brown, whose son was named in the threat, reported the information to the sheriff’s office. A warrant was drafted to search Harris’ home, but it was never executed.

Hicks left the department in 2000 and now lives in South Carolina.

Tom Mauser, whose son, Daniel, was killed at the school, said he wanted more details about why the search never took place.

“If we’re going to learn lessons, that’s a key part of it,” he said. “Why did law enforcement stop where it did?”

(930)

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ASPEN PARK MURDER STUNS RESIDENTS

Article: ASPEN PARK MURDER STUNS RESIDENTS.(News)

Article from:Rocky Mountain News (Denver, CO) Article date:May 30, 2005 Author:Poppen, Julie; Torkelson, Jean Copyright

 

 

Byline: Julie Poppen And Jean Torkelson, Rocky Mountain News

 

ASPEN PARK — Residents of this small mountain community east of Conifer can’t believe anyone would murder a 70-year-old neighbor.

One man in the live-and-let-live community of Aspen Park is convinced that Patrick Housand, a member of the Knights of Columbus and an active Catholic, was mauled to death by a mountain lion as he left for work before dawn Saturday.

But Jefferson County sheriff’s officials are calling the death a homicide. Sheriff’s spokeswoman Jacki Tallman declined to comment on the cause of death Sunday despite abundant rumors circulating among Aspen Park residents.

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