of Library Events
The Library Team was led by Arvada Police Department Russ Boatright and
assisted by FBI Special Agent John Elvig and JCSO Investigator Diane Obbema. There were three additional investigators assigned to
this team for varying terms based on availability.
The library team was given the responsibility of investigating the events
which transpired in the Columbine High School library on April 20, 1999.
In order to accomplish that task, the library team conducted detailed
interviews with surviving victims and witnesses.
In conjunction with the victim/witness interviews, the library team
utilized the 911 tape, physical evidence collected at the scene, ballistic
reports, medical reports and autopsy reports to determine the sequence of events
as they occurred in the library. In
addition, the team consulted with the Jefferson County Coroner and various
pathologists to assist in determining the suspects' actions while in the
The library team determined there was a total of 56 people present in the
library at the time the suspects entered. Of
the 56 people present, four were faculty/staff (all female), while the remaining
52 individuals were students. In
terms of the 52 students, 24 were male, 28 were female.
Students were of various grades and ranged in age from 15 to 18.
All of the witnesses in the library were determined to be critical, as
all of them observed movements and actions of Harris and Klebold.
Only two suspects were identified as being responsible for injuring or
killing those present in the library. The
two suspects were identified as Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.
There were no discrepancies regarding that issue.
Harris was identified as being responsible for injuring seven people
while Klebold injured six people. Both
were responsible for injuring one of the individuals. Harris was responsible for
killing five students; Klebold killed two.
Together Harris and Klebold killed an additional three students.
In respect to those present in the library, 12 received injuries of
varying degrees while 10 received fatal injuries.
The injured were identified as follows:
The deceased were identified as follows:
investigation there were many witnesses who had common perceptions and
misperceptions of the events during the shooting.
Initially heard popping
sounds which did not create any concern (some students thought they were hearing
During the initial phase of
this incident, witnesses believed the suspects were engaging in a senior prank.
The belief they were hidden
from view as the suspects entered the library.
The inability to estimate
the number of gunshots during the course of the incident.
Inability to distinguish
between the gunshots and explosions.
Distortion of time.
The belief the suspects
were enjoying themselves during the incident.
Impaired observations or
recall at the point the suspects came within close proximity of their location.
For those who were injured
(even slightly), the belief they were the last one shot (impaired recall after
would discourage additional violence.
The belief they were one of
the last people to leave the library.
Many of victims/witnesses
were able to recall various details of the incident but had difficulty recalling
the events in chronological order.
It was evident the media
had an impact on witness' statements. Students
would watch or read coverage of the Columbine shootings and make conclusions
based on some of the impressions presented by the media rather than from their
own perceptions. Those problems
usually were rectified during the interviews.
The following is a chronological account of what is believed to have
occurred inside the Columbine High School library on April 20, 1999, based on a
conglomerate of witness statements. The library team did not conduct an
investigation related to the suspects' activities after leaving the library.
Additionally, the team did not conduct any investigation into the deaths
of Eric Harris or Dylan Klebold.
Normally, the school library at Columbine was much
more crowded than it was on April 20 and students could have trouble finding a
table at which to sit. But on this day,
there were empty chairs. Because of
the nice weather, many students had opted to be outside instead.
At approximately 11:20 a.m., students and teachers in the library began
to hear what was described as popping noises coming from the northwest outside
area of the school. Witnesses also described hearing what they later believed
were gunshots and explosions inside the school.
Some of the witnesses described hearing those sounds emanating from the
cafeteria or commons area, in addition to directly outside the library.
Teacher Patricia Nielson, already injured, ran into the library and
called 911. In between telling the
dispatcher what was happening, she screamed at the students that there were
students with guns and for everyone to get under the tables.
Nielson knew they had nowhere to go.
The last time she saw the gunmen, they were outside (near the emergency
exit from the library) and they were heading inside the hall that led to the
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In reflecting back, many of the students in the library, like so many in
the school that day, initially thought the commotion they were hearing was a
senior prank. As the realization
hit that real bullets were being fired, they followed Nielson’s orders and got
under the tables. Almost all the
students initially thought that by getting under the tables they were hidden
from the gunmen’s view. They
Teacher Peggy Dodd was in the library when she looked
out the window and saw Klebold “standing on the hill, just shooting.”
She recognized him as a student in one of her computer classes the
previous year and remembered him as a troublemaker who hacked into computers and
wore tall “Nazi” boots and an overcoat.
According to Dodd, Klebold was holding a weapon with both hands and,
using a sweeping motion, was pointing it toward the south parking lot.
Dodd also recalled seeing teacher Dave Sanders
running down the hallway to the north in front of the library.
He motioned with his hands that they should stay in the library.
Sanders, at that time, did not appear wounded.
Nielson hid under the front counter just inside the door and several
times she peeked over the counter to ensure the students were hidden under tables.
By then, Harris and Klebold were in the hall directly outside the library
shooting their weapons and throwing pipe bombs. Harris threw a lit device, which
some students described as resembling “dynamite,” in a southerly direction.
Moments later there was an explosion in the hall directly outside the
library. Smoke was pouring into the
library and fire alarms began to wail.
Suspects Enter the Library
At 11:29 a.m. the gunmen entered the school library yelling “Get up!”
Some witnesses reported hearing one of them yell, “Everyone with a
white cap or baseball cap, stand up.” Others
reported hearing, “All jocks stand up. We’ll
get the guys in white hats!” When
no one stood up, a witness heard one of the gunman say, “Fine, I’ll start
Harris fired shotgun rounds down the length of the front counter. Evan Todd, crouched behind a copier stand, was injured by
flying wood splinters.
gunmen then walked through the library toward the west windows.
Student Kyle Velasquez was the only student not hiding under a desk or
table. Instead, he was sitting at
the north computer table and was shot by Klebold as he walked by him to the
Harris and Klebold set down their
backpacks, filled with ammunition and Molotov
cocktails, on one of the computer tables and approached the library windows.
Harris was down on one knee shooting out the west library windows toward law
enforcement officers and fleeing students. Klebold subsequently positioned
himself next to Harris and fired out the window as well.
At this point, Klebold took off his trench coat.
Also at this point, teacher Patricia Nielson, who initiated the 911 call
from the library, dropped the phone and no further communication with the
toward table 15 hitting Daniel Steepleton, Makai Hall and
Patrick Ireland. As Ireland was
attempting to administer first aid, he was shot again.
Meanwhile, Harris killed Steven Curnow,
hiding under the south computer table, and wounded Kacey Reugsegger, crouched next to Steven.
Harris walked over to table 19 where he bent down and saw two frightened
girls. He slapped the table top
twice, said, “Peek-a-boo,” and fired, killing Cassie Bernall. After shooting Cassie, Harris made a comment about hitting
himself in the face. Investigators
believe Harris broke his nose as a result of the “kick” from the shotgun
when he bent to fire under the table.
He then turned to Bree Pasquale
who was sitting on the floor because
there was not enough room under the nearby table.
Harris asked her if she wanted to die.
As the girl pleaded for her life, she observed blood flowing from his
nose. She later said that Harris
seemed disoriented for a moment but was able to refocus when Klebold called his
attention to table 16 under which two boys were hiding.
One of the boys, Klebold announced, was black.
Bree also recalled Harris laughing and saying, “Everyone’s gonna
die” and “We’re gonna blow up the school anyway.”
Harris and Klebold stood on opposite sides of table
16. Klebold, standing
on the east side of the table, was heard making a racial comment and began
grabbing at Isaiah Shoels in an effort to pull him out from underneath the
table. Harris fired under the
table, killing Isaiah. Klebold fired under the table as well, killing Matthew
Harris threw a small CO2 cartridge south which rolled under
table 15. Makai Hall grabbed it and
threw it further south away from everyone where it exploded. Witnesses next
described Harris as moving south in the library to the west bookshelves where he
jumped up on the shelves and began shaking them back and forth while swearing.
He then walked between the bookshelves where witnesses lost sight of him.
Witnesses did report hearing books being shot in the area near the west
set of bookshelves shortly after Harris walked into that area.
Harris and Klebold left the west area of the library and walked east
toward the entrance.
Klebold shot out the display cabinet near the front door
before he fired
toward table 1, injuring Mark Kintgen. His attention then turned to table 2
and he fired under that table. The
first shot fired injured Valeen Schnurr and Lisa Kreutz.
Walking beside the table, Klebold proceeded to fire as fast as his gun
would shoot, killing Lauren Townsend.
While Klebold was at table 2, Harris stopped near table 3 under which two
girls were hiding. He looked under
the table and, upon seeing them, simply said, “Pathetic," and walked
Valeen, who was critically hurt, began to cry, “Oh God, help me.” Klebold, who had shot her, came back and taunted her about
her belief in God. He then walked
Harris was seen stepping
toward table 6 and firing under the table,
injuring both Nicole Nowlen and John Tomlin.
Tomlin came out from under the table and Klebold shot and killed him.
Harris walked around table 6 and shot and killed Kelly Fleming, who was
near table 2 where three students had already been shot.
He then fired under table 2, again hitting Lauren Townsend
and Lisa Kreutz, and wounding Jeanna Park as well.
Harris and Klebold left the library’s east area and entered the center
section, reloading their weapons at table 13.
Harris, noticing a student under table
11, told him to identify himself.
The student, who was an acquaintance of Klebold, identified himself and
asked Klebold what he was doing. Klebold
replied, “ Oh, just killing people.” The
student asked if Klebold was going to kill him.
Klebold told him to get out of the library, which he did.
While standing north of table
11, Harris shot under table 9, killing
Both then shot under table
14, injuring Jennifer Doyle and Austin Eubanks
and killing Corey DePooter. Corey
was the last killed. He was killed
Klebold and Harris walked north
toward the main counter of the library.
Harris threw a Molotov cocktail toward the southwest side of the library.
The gunmen went behind the counter and had a confrontation with Evan
Todd, who had moved under the counter after being injured. The gunmen taunted
him and discussed whether or not to kill him.
They walked away instead and Klebold fired back into the “kitchen”
area of the library, striking a television.
Gunmen Leave the
and Klebold were heard talking about going to the school’s commons area. Klebold picked up a chair, threw
it on top of a computer terminal on the main counter under which Nielson was
hiding, and the two walked out of the library’s main entrance into the
hallway. It was 11:36. Only 7 ½
minutes had passed, the time it took the gunmen to shoot and kill ten people and
wound 12 more. There were a total
of 56 people in the library. The
gunmen had enough ammunition to kill every single one of them, but they
When the gunmen left, the library was filled with smoke and the fire
alarms were blaring. The
students’ ears were ringing, the injured were moaning, and yet almost all of
them described it as eerily quiet. The
gunfire had stopped. The gunmen’s
taunts and laughter had stopped.
No one wanted to look at each other.
No one knew if the gunmen would come back and finish what they started. No one wanted to face the reality of what they had just
witnessed. Slowly, they began to
move, not all at once as a group, but one by one or in small groups of two or
three. They moved when their fear
of staying became bigger than their fear of moving.
The Living Escape
from the Library
All of the students and teachers who left
the library went through the emergency exit, which leads to the west entrance where the gunmen first entered the school.
They ran to the safety of the
waiting patrol cars and armed deputies who could give them protection and lead
them to safety.
The kids gave the deputies an important fact.
The gunmen were not in the library anymore.
A short time later Nielsen, who had initiated the 911 call from the
library, crawled into the break room ("kitchen") and hid in a
cupboard. Library technician Carole Weld
and assistant Lois Kean remained hidden in the television studio.
Teacher Peggy Dodd was hiding in the periodicals room.
All four remained in the library until they were evacuated by SWAT.
Patrick Ireland, who slipped in and out of consciousness slowly made his
way to the west window and fell out into the arms of SWAT at 2:38 p.m.
Lisa Kreutz, the last of the wounded, was rescued when SWAT entered the
library at 3:22 p.m. Lisa was being transported to
Denver Health Medical by 3:37 p.m.