April 30, 1999:
tell the official story of Columbine at a press conference.
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.
The 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.
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.”
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:
Quoted from the 2000 Jefferson County Sheriff’s Report:
12:07 · Deputy Walker asks dispatch to check on the status of the party on the roof.
12:11 · The heating and air conditioning repairman, initially thought to be a possible sniper, is removed from the roof.
12:15 · A news helicopter lands at Clement Park. Jefferson County Sheriff’s Sgt. Phil Domenico is put on board and uses the helicopter’s camera system to survey the school’s roof. He remains in the helicopter for the next several hours surveying the area.
“Denver Police Department put out a call to respond to Columbine about 11:30 a.m. and members of its team also went with the first ad hoc SWAT group advancing on the school. Many of its members, armed with AR-15 rifles, provided suppression fire [but there are NO ballistics reports documenting where the bullets they fired ended up! Also, how do you lay down “suppression fire” when you’ve got two shooters mixed up with hundreds of innocent students and teachers inside a large building?] during attempts to rescue down and wounded students outside or assisted in the rescues themselves. Many also helped evacuate students from different areas of the school, assisting in establishing security protection for the evacuees, helped search and secure classrooms; provided cover as other SWAT team members freed them from the building, and assisted in clearing the roof of the school.”
And here is what we think that Sgt Domenico filmed from that News helicopter:
But in typical of it’s obfuscation of evidence, the Sheriff’s department does not cover the SWAT firing from the roof issue in it’s report: That information comes out later after Mr. Rohrbough (as you will read further below) forced Jeffco to release the ballistics report in Court. Instead the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department, in response to multiple reports of rooftop snipers, comes up with this lame photo in it’s official and “complete” 2000 report.
Columbine families seek to track each bullet
By Howard Pankratz Denver Post Legal Affairs Writer
May 31, 2000 -The ballistics report on the weapons and bullets from the Columbine massacre fails to identify who fired the shots that killed and wounded each victim.
That was the chief complaint from a lawyer who represents several victims’ families upon Tuesday’s release of the 58-page report by the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.
“What we lack is the real underlying evidence,” said Jim Rouse.
Rouse represents the family of slain student Daniel Rohrbough. In a federal wrongful-death lawsuit against the sheriff’s department, the family claims 15-year-old Daniel was killed outside the school by a deputy sheriff’s bullet. Rouse says the claim is based on two eyewitnesses and the autopsy report.
He has declined to identify the witnesses, and the autopsy report remains sealed.
Sheriff’s officials deny the allegation, claiming that Rohrbough was killed by Dylan Klebold.
Rouse said the ballistics report doesn’t change his assessment because it doesn’t provide enough information.
“We have not seen anything in the ballistics report that would change that allegation,” Rouse said. “We were hoping it would tell us what bullets were found where and from what guns those bullets were fired.” The report identifies the four guns used by killers Klebold and Eric Harris, the guns used by officers at the scene, and also documents the multitude of shells, cartridges and fragments recovered at the school. It also examines the relationship of the weapons to the recovered shells and items.
But to determine who fired the bullets that killed the specific victims, Rouse said he needs to see the 200 volumes of backup materials upon which the massive final investigative report was based.
“We have no crime scene photos,” Rouse said. “We don’t know what bullets were found where. We don’t have witness statements. All we’ve got are conclusory reports that don’t shed light on what we are looking for.” Rouse’s clients filed an Open Records Act lawsuit against the county in April for release of the ballistics report and numerous other Columbine-related materials.
Jefferson County District Judge Brooke Jackson has ordered nearly all the material released, but he has yet to rule on whether the 200 volumes must be disclosed.
In the Columbine report, the sheriff’s department said law officers fired 141 rounds at Columbine. Twelve officers fired their weapons: four from Jefferson County; seven from the Denver Police Department; and one from the Lakewood Police Department.
Klebold and Harris fired 188 shots.
Among the information in Tuesday’s report were descriptions of the ammunition pouches carried by the two killers. Recovered were three “green canvas ammunition pouches,” and one tan canvas pouch marked “Nikon” with dark brown trim with the name “Klebold” written on the back.
Also recovered was one large, double-stacked metal magazine, which had a 50-round capacity plus 40 live rounds of 9mm Luger caliber ammunition. Numerous 9mm magazines were recovered.
Several families said they did not plan to immediately pick up the report, echoing sentiment expressed after the release of the investigative report two weeks ago. And Mike Kirklin – whose son, Lance, suffered multiple gunshot wounds in the attack – said he was told the report might be difficult to decipher without some knowledge of ballistics.
“They told me I might have trouble reading it,” Kirklin said.
Staff writer Kevin Simpson contributed to this report.
On the tenth anniversary of the Columbine shooting, USA Today had the gall to print, ” Contrary to early reports, Harris and Klebold weren’t on antidepressant medication [emphasis added] and didn’t target jocks, blacks or Christians, police now say, citing the killers’ journals and witness accounts.” This is just the tip of the iceberg in the decade-long coverup by the Colorado Sheriffs and other law enforcement agencies. Unanswered questions abound!
In 1994, David and Judi Chase were in the process of adopting two children in Jefferson County, Colorado, when David learned about criminality within the Jefferson County Government. What he learned, cost him his life.
Later, Phil Harris, a private investigator, and retired detective from Ohio, lost his life as well.
Other Private investigators have uncovered extensive evidence documenting the fact that David Chase was murdered to make it easier for this trafficking network to procure legal custody of the twins, and to silence him to prevent him from revealing what he knew about their operations concerning a large child-trafficking/child-pornography network, as stated in the ‘Andre’ Affidavit.
There is a vital, crucial question raised by this attorney, who stated in the affidavit, “This is of grave concern and indicates the need to investigate whether or not the judicial court process [in Jefferson County, Colorado] was corrupted in order to insure that foster children could be procured for illicit activities, etc.”
LEARN MORE ABOUT THE JUDI CHASE CASE AT: http://theportalsmemoirs.com/JudiChasesAmberAlert.html
In this disturbing video, Judi mentions, again, “The Fat Cats.” It’s logical to wonder if these aren’t the same “Fat Cats” child abductors mentioned in the Jon Benet Ramsey case.
10 years later,
the real [ha!] story behind Columbine
By Greg Toppo, USA TODAY
They weren’t goths or loners.
The two teenagers who killed 13 people and themselves at suburban Denver’s Columbine High School 10 years ago next week weren’t in the “Trenchcoat Mafia,” disaffected videogamers who wore cowboy dusters. The killings ignited a national debate over bullying, but the record now shows Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold hadn’t been bullied — in fact, they had bragged in diaries about picking on freshmen and “fags.”
[Wrong Mr. Toppo. In fact, the boys got teased for being fags. About one year prior to the shooting, Eric and his friends were recording video with one of the school’s cameras in the cafeteria. In the video, you can clearly hear one of Eric’s friends say, “Eric just got jacked up the ass,” to which Eric replied, “I don’t know about that.” Why didn’t Eric refute the comment?]
Their rampage put schools on alert for “enemies lists” made by troubled students, but the enemies on their list had graduated from Columbine a year earlier. Contrary to early reports, Harris and Klebold weren’t on antidepressant medication [emphasis added] and didn’t target jocks, blacks or Christians, police now say, citing the killers’ journals and witness accounts. [WHAT? The SSRI Anti-depressant in Eric Harris’ autopsy report is, or at least was, common knowledge!]
[Don’t those reporters at USA TODAY do any research?]
Struggling With Columbine’s Questions
Lawsuit Charges It Made Eric Harris Manic And Psychotic
DENVER, Oct. 22, 2001
(AP) Families of five Columbine High School shooting victims are suing the maker of an anti-depressant that one of the student gunmen was taking when he opened fire.
A therapeutic amount of the drug Luvox was found in Eric Harris’ system after he died, the Jefferson County coroner’s office has said.
Solvay Pharmaceuticals Inc. makes the drug to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression. The lawsuit filed Friday in U.S. District Court claims Solvay failed to warn Harris’ doctor about side effects.
“Such drugs caused Eric Harris to become manic and psychotic,” the lawsuit states.
Solvay’s Web site warns that the drug may impair judgment, thinking or motor skills.
The American Psychiatric Association defended Luvox in 1999, saying a decade of research found little relationship between the use of antidepressants and destructive behavior.
[If you look at the killers’ writings, the motive is clear:]
That story about a student being shot in the head after she said she believed in God? Never happened, the FBI says now.
In fact, the pair’s suicidal attack was planned as a grand — if badly implemented — terrorist bombing that quickly devolved into a 49-minute shooting rampage when the bombs Harris built fizzled.
“He was so bad at wiring those bombs, apparently they weren’t even close to working,” says Dave Cullen, author of Columbine, a new account of the attack.
So whom did they hope to kill?
Everyone — including friends.
What’s left, after peeling away a decade of myths, is perhaps more comforting than the “good kids harassed into retaliation” narrative — or perhaps not.
It’s a portrait of Harris and Klebold as a sort of In Cold Blood criminal duo — a deeply disturbed, suicidal pair who over more than a year psyched each other up for an Oklahoma City-style terrorist bombing, an apolitical, over-the-top revenge fantasy against years of snubs, slights and cruelties, real and imagined.
Along the way, they saved money from after-school jobs, took Advanced Placement classes, assembled a small arsenal and fooled everyone — friends, parents, teachers, psychologists, cops and judges.
[Fooled Everyone? Over a period of two years, the sheriffs had been on over a dozen “Eric and Dylan” calls!]
“These are not ordinary kids who were bullied into retaliation,” psychologist Peter Langman writes in his new book, Why Kids Kill: Inside the Minds of School Shooters. “These are not ordinary kids who played too many video games. These are not ordinary kids who just wanted to be famous. These are simply not ordinary kids. These are kids with serious psychological problems.”
[Serious psychological problems? No doubt. Look at the “crime scene” drawing Eric Harris made on the night of January 30, 1998.
Above van, us and red truck, what is the drawing Eric made? The figure on the right is wearing a star (badge). Certainly, this is NOT the sheriff’s deputy walking a dog.]
Deceiving the adults
Harris, who conceived the attacks, was more than just troubled. He was, psychologists now say, a cold-blooded, predatory psychopath — a smart, charming liar with “a preposterously grand superiority complex, a revulsion for authority and an excruciating need for control,” Cullen writes.
Harris, a senior, read voraciously and got good grades when he tried, pleasing his teachers with dazzling prose — then writing in his journal about killing thousands. [He also wrote school papers about gratuitous murder, but the school, after alerting the parents, did nothing!]
“I referred to him — and I’m dating myself — as the Eddie Haskel of Columbine High School,” says Principal Frank DeAngelis, referring to the deceptively polite teen on the 1950s and ’60s sitcom Leave it to Beaver. “He was the type of kid who, when he was in front of adults, he’d tell you what you wanted to hear.”
When he wasn’t, he mixed napalm in the kitchen .
According to Cullen, one of Harris’ last journal entries read: “I hate you people for leaving me out of so many fun things. And no don’t … say, ‘Well that’s your fault,’ because it isn’t, you people had my phone #, and I asked and all, but no. No no no don’t let the weird-looking Eric KID come along.”
As he walked into the school the morning of April 20, Harris’ T-shirt read: Natural Selection.
Klebold, on the other hand, was anxious and lovelorn, summing up his life at one point in his journal as “the most miserable existence in the history of time,” Langman notes.
Harris drew swastikas in his journal; Klebold drew hearts.
As laid out in their writings, the contrast between the two was stark.
Harris seemed to feel superior to everyone — he once wrote, “I feel like God and I wish I was, having everyone being OFFICIALLY lower than me” — while Klebold was suicidally depressed and getting angrier all the time. “Me is a god, a god of sadness,” he wrote in September 1997, around his 16th birthday.
Klebold also was paranoid. “I have always been hated, by everyone and everything,” he wrote.
[The SSRI drugs have exactly the same adverse side-effects being described]:
Just a year after fluoxetine was introduced, Bill Forsyth of Maui, Hawaii, had taken it for only 12 days when he committed one of the first murder/suicides attributed to any SSRI.
In the same year Joseph Wesbecker killed eight others and himself in a Louisville, Ky., printing plant where he worked, after 4 weeks on fluoxetine. Yet as early as 1986, clinical trials showed a rate of 12.5 suicides per 1,000 subjects on fluoxetine vs. 3.8 on older non-SSRIs vs. 2.5 on placebo! An internal 1985 Lilly document found even worse results and said that benefits were less than risks. Such documents were released into the public domain by Lilly as part of the settlement in the Wesbecker case. Fifteen more “anecdotes” of murder/suicide, three with sertraline, were listed by DeGrandpre. From: Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons Volume 14 Number 1 Spring 2009
On the day of the attacks, his T-shirt read: Wrath.
Shooter profiles emerge
Columbine wasn’t the first K-12 school shooting. But at the time it was by far the worst, and the first to play out largely on live television.
The U.S. Secret Service and U.S. Education Department soon began studying school shooters. In 2002, researchers presented their first findings: School shooters, they said, followed no set profile, but most were depressed and felt persecuted.
Princeton sociologist Katherine Newman, co-author of the 2004 book Rampage: The Social Roots of School Shootings, says young people such as Harris and Klebold are not loners — they’re just not accepted by the kids who count. “Getting attention by becoming notorious is better than being a failure.”
The Secret Service found that school shooters usually tell other kids about their plans.
“Other students often even egg them on,” says Newman, who led a congressionally mandated study on school shootings. “Then they end up with this escalating commitment. It’s not a sudden snapping.”
Langman, whose book profiles 10 shooters, including Harris and Klebold, found that nine suffered from depression and suicidal thoughts, a “potentially dangerous” combination, he says. “It is hard to prevent murder when killers do not care if they live or die. It is like trying to stop a suicide bomber.”
[Except that in this case, you have Eric Harris in the juvenile program in Jefferson County, where, just months before the shooting, he checks off “homicidal thoughts” on his mental health evaluation form. Plus there was a draft search warrant for his house to look for pipe bombs, plus the school knew about his homicidal writings!]
At the time, Columbine became a kind of giant national Rorschach test. Observers saw its genesis in just about everything: lax parenting, lax gun laws, progressive schooling, repressive school culture, violent video games, antidepressant drugs and rock ‘n’ roll, for starters. [We don’t blame rock ‘n’ roll!]
Many of the Columbine myths emerged before the shooting stopped, as rumors, misunderstandings and wishful thinking swirled in an echo chamber among witnesses, survivors, officials and the news media.
Police contributed to the mess by talking to reporters before they knew facts — a hastily called news conference by the Jefferson County sheriff that afternoon produced the first headline: “Twenty-five dead in Colorado.”
A few inaccuracies took hours to clear up, but others took weeks or months — sometimes years — as authorities reluctantly set the record straight.
Former Rocky Mountain News reporter Jeff Kass, author of a new book, Columbine: A True Crime Story, says police played a game of “Open Records charades.”
In one case, county officials took five years just to acknowledge that they had met in secret after the attacks to discuss a 1998 affidavit for a search warrant on Harris’ home — it was the result of a complaint against him by the mother of a former friend. Harris had threatened her son on his website and bragged that he had been building bombs.
Police already had found a small bomb matching Harris’ description near his home — but investigators never presented the affidavit to a judge. [This makes no sense. After having recovered and matched an exploded bomb, and seen Eric’s website describing EXACTLY the same bomb construction, the investigators never go to a judge, WHY? This has never been looked into completely. We do know that the Jefferson County Sheriff’s department released the bomb warrant affidavit to 60 Minutes AFTER a Judge ordered it released in 2004. Isn’t it obvious, that the Sheriff’s Department tried to bury the bomb warrant so it wouldn’t lead to an investigation of the “January Incident”]
They also apparently didn’t know that Harris and Klebold were on probation after having been arrested in January 1998 for breaking into a van and stealing electronics.
The search finally took place, but only after the shootings.
What’s now beyond dispute — largely from the killers’ journals, which have been released over the past few years, is this: Harris and Klebold killed 13 and wounded 24, but they had hoped to kill thousands.
The pair planned the attacks for more than a year, building 100 bombs and persuading friends to buy them guns. Just after 11 a.m. on April 20, they lugged a pair of duffel bags containing propane-tank bombs into Columbine’s crowded cafeteria and another into the kitchen, then stepped outside and waited.
Had the bombs exploded, they’d have killed virtually everyone eating lunch and brought the school’s second-story library down atop the cafeteria, police say. Armed with a pistol, a rifle and two sawed-off shotguns, the pair planned to pick off survivors fleeing the carnage.
As a last terrorist act, a pair of gasoline bombs planted in Harris’ Honda and Klebold’s BMW had been rigged apparently to kill police, rescue teams, journalists and parents who rushed to the school — long after the pair expected they would be dead.
The pair had parked the cars about 100 yards apart in the student lot. The bombs didn’t go off.
Looking for answers at home
Since 1999, many people have looked to the boys’ parents for answers, but a transcript of their 2003 court-ordered deposition to the victims’ parents remains sealed until 2027. [2027!!! What’s in these depositions that is so hot? This stinks of a cover-up. In the Franklin Coverup, attorney and author, John DeCamp writes, “FINAL COMMENT & UPDATE: I have become involved in a number of super high profile cases since First Edition of Franklin Cover-Up came out …. but, perhaps the most frightening to me has been the COLUMBINE case where I represented various victims of the massacre and/or their families. I believe as a result of those cases I am the only lawyer to have taken the depositions of the Harris boy’s mother & father, and I am one of the only victims’ lawyers to have seen certain Columbine materials and tapes.”]
The Klebolds spoke to New York Times columnist David Brooks in 2004 and impressed Brooks as “a well-educated, reflective, highly intelligent couple” who spent plenty of time with their son. They said they had no clues about Dylan’s mental state and regretted not seeing that he was suicidal.
Could the parents have prevented the massacre? The FBI special agent in charge of the investigation has gone on record as having “the utmost sympathy” for the Harris and Klebold families.
“They have been vilified without information,” retired supervisory special agent Dwayne Fuselier tells Cullen.
[No mention here of the well established fact that Mr. Harris knew about Eric’s bomb making and actually helped him detonate a pipe-bomb in a field near their home]
Cullen, who has spent most of the past decade poring over the record, comes away with a bit of sympathy.
For one thing, he notes, Harris’ parents “knew they had a problem — they thought they were dealing with it. What kind of parent is going to think, ‘Well, maybe Eric’s a mass murderer.’ You just don’t go there.”
He got a good look at the boys’ writings only in the past couple of years. Among the revelations: Eric Harris was financing what could well have been the biggest domestic terrorist attack on U.S. soil on wages from a part-time job at a pizza parlor.
“One of the scary things is that money was one of the limiting factors here,” Cullen says.
Had Harris, then 18, put off the attacks for a few years and landed a well-paying job, he says, “he could be much more like Tim McVeigh,” mixing fertilizer bombs like those used in Oklahoma City in 1995.As it was, he says, the fact that Harris carried out the attack when he did probably saved hundreds of lives.
“His limited salary probably limited the number of people who died.”
Eye witness Tom Hagler, reports that when the airplane stopped for fuel, he opened the restroom in his hanger for the passengers. Hagler reported that he saw a group of “about a dozen children and four adults Sunday morning” at the Oroville Municipal Airport, about 70 miles north of Sacramento. Hagler, owner of Table Mountain Aviation, described the children as ranging from about 6- to 10-year olds. He let the children into his building to use the restroom. “There were a lot of kids in the group,” he said. “A lot of really cute kids.”
The 10 foot deep crater: If the plane left a 10′ deep crater, why is the investigator in the the 3rd picture below walking off with a virtually unscathed propller blade? Seems to this aviation mechanic, that the prop was NOT spinning on impact, therefore we conclude that it is very likely the plane was overloaded and not carrying enough gas. With 17 people aboard, the plane’s fuel load was limited. Was the change in flight plans, a low on fuel diversion?
Mark Rosenker, acting chairman of the NTSB, said Monday that the agency would calculate the weight of the luggage, fuel and passengers.
“Lap children can be allowed on an aircraft up to the age of 2,” Rosenker said. “We can’t tell you if in fact they were sitting on the laps or not.” [the plane only has TEN seats total!!!!]
Investigators said they have no reason to believe the plane ran out of fuel or had mechanical problems.
Witnesses who saw the plane overhead immediately knew something was terribly wrong.
“I heard the engine, and I look up to see it spinning and going into a nose dive,” Kenny Gulick, who witnessed the crash, told “Good Morning America.” “It was spinning. Normally, it would be at 90 degrees. It was at 180 degrees. … The pitch of the nose tried to move up slowly, but it was too close to the ground.”
Butte residents Steve and Martha Guidoni and her husband raced to the scene when they witnessed the plane spiral down. Moments later, it crashed straight into the ground.
“It came in the wrong angle and it was pretty low and then it was like something stopped midair, and it went boom,” Martha Guidoni told ABC News. “I could not fathom seeing what I’ve seen. I just kept telling him, it’s too unreal to be real. … It looked like a meteorite hit the ground. … I’ve never seen anything so scary in my life.”
The plane crash left a 10-foot deep crater at the cemetery. At the fiery wreckage, Steve hoped he would find a miracle, but he didn’t see it.
ABC News’ Lisa Fletcher contributed to this report.
A worker carries a piece of propeller as NTSB investigators and local authorities scour the scene at Holy Cross Cemetery, scene of the fatal plane crash which killed 14 people.
By Associated Press
BUTTE, Mont. (AP) – Half an hour before a small plane crashed in Montana, killing all 14 aboard, the pilot requested a change in course from Bozeman to Butte. Why he did that is emerging as a key mystery.
Flying at 25,000 feet, pilot Buddy Summerfield requested the diversion shortly before the single-engine Pilatus PC-12 crashed at the edge of Butte’s airport Sunday about 75 miles away from Bozeman.
National Transportation Safety Board acting Chairman Mark Rosenker said finding out why the plane diverted is at the forefront of his agency’s investigation.
“It begins with that question – the 25,000-foot diversion to go to Butte,” Rosenker said.
Summerfield said nothing to controllers to indicate he was having trouble, and did not say why he was changing course from Bozeman to Butte.
The probe into the crash will include a review of Summerfield’s medical history, based on speculation that a heart attack or other health issue might have been at fault. Rosenker said air traffic controllers detected no strain in the 65-year-old pilot’s voice during his final communications.
Rosenker also revealed that the plane’s landing gear was down but its wing flaps were up at the time of the crash. That’s unusual for a landing aircraft but not unheard of, said the investigator in charge of the accident, Dennis Hogenson.
Also under scrutiny are weather conditions that could have caused icing on the plane’s wings and possible overloading. The plane was configured to seat just 10 people, but the fact that several of the 14 passengers were small children has dampened speculation that excess weight was a factor.
The investigation has been hampered by the lack of a cockpit voice recorder or data recorder, which were not required on the private flight. Rosenker said his agency may subpoena cell phone records of the victims to see if they could provide further clues.
While descending toward Butte’s Bert Mooney Airport, the plane passed through a layer of air at about 1,500 feet that was conducive to icing because the temperature was below freezing and the air “had 100 percent relative humidity or was saturated,” according to AccuWeather, a forecasting service in State College, Pa.
Safety experts said similar icing conditions existed when a Continental Airlines twin-engine turboprop crashed into a home near Buffalo Niagara International Airport last month, killing 50.
A possible stall created by ice – and the pilot’s reaction to it – has been the focus of the Buffalo investigation, which remains open.
NTSB spokesman Keith Holloway said it was too early to single out any one factor in the Butte crash.
“We’re looking at mechanical issues. We’re looking at weather. We’re looking at the structure of the aircraft. We’re looking at human performance, weight and balance issues,” Holloway said.
Do the rich businessmen called “fat cats” belong to the Yellowstone Club?
The Yellowstone Club is in bankruptcy, why?
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.