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 TIME on politics Congressional Quarterly CNN/AllPolitics CNN/AllPolitics - Storypage, with TIME and Congressional Quarterly

Janet Reno to visit scene of Colorado school shooting

By Terry Frieden/CNN

WASHINGTON (AllPolitics, April 21) -- Attorney General Janet Reno is expected to arrive in Littleton, Colorado, Wednesday evening to meet law enforcement officials and groups providing victims assistance involved in the school massacre there, Justice Department officials announced.

Reno is flying to Colorado from Minneapolis where she was the keynote speaker at a conference focusing on public-private partnerships aimed at reducing violent crime.

Reno is expected to arrive in Denver about 7 p.m. local time, and promptly meet with the head of the FBI's Denver office and officials from other police agencies. She will attend no public events Wednesday night.

Reno's specific schedule was not released, as officials said she wanted to keep her Wednesday night meetings "low profile."

The attorney general's decision to travel to Colorado was delayed for several hours as officials weighed the implications of sending the nation's highest-ranking law enforcement official to the scene while bodies remained in the school, sources said.

Reno was encouraged earlier Wednesday by both White House and local law enforcement officials to "show the flag" as an expression of the nation's and the administration's deep concern for the tragedy in Littleton.

However, aides say Reno did not wish to "grandstand" and did not want to arrive before there was an organized plan in which she could meet with local officials and join the community in "the grieving process."

Late Wednesday Reno issued a written statement that said in part: "FBI and ATF agents have been in Littleton providing assistance. We have teams of victims' counselors standing by. We have let the community know that the Departments of Justice and Education will provide whatever resources they may need."

Top federal law enforcement officials spent Tuesday night monitoring the "fluid situation" in Littleton, Colorado, to determine how best to provide help to the community dealing with the tragedy that left 15 dead, including the two suspects, and 24 injured.

The Justice Department said the Office of Victims Assistance and other offices stand ready to assist school officials and families with staffing or financial resources, but local officials so far have not requested assistance.

Justice and Education Department officials have jointly established "SERV" -- School Emergency Response to Violence -- and have contracts with experts and grief counselors who are available to help communities cope with violent events.

Officials said most if not all of these individuals are located outside Washington. Justice officials are unaware of immediate plans for a contingent of federal officials to travel from Washington.

FBI agents from the Denver field office remain at the scene Tuesday night, according to officials at FBI headquarters.

A Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms spokesman at the Phoenix regional office says three firearms agents are standing by to assist in tracing the firearms used in the shootings. Three bomb squad members from the Denver field office also are at the scene to provide assistance.


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Wednesday, April 21, 1999

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