of Outside Events
The Outside Team was led by FBI Special Agent Michael Barnett and
assisted by JCSO Investigators Jack McFadden and Cheryl Zimmerman.
They were assigned the task of identifying any additional suspects
involved in the shooting, pre-bomb activities, and outside witnesses.
There were 16 investigators assigned to this team for varying terms based
on availability. Six hundred and
seventy-one (671) leads were assigned to this team, which included a portion of
the interior classroom interviews.
critical witnesses were identified as having witnessed significant events such
as movements and actions of Harris and Klebold. Eighty-three of those witnesses were not injured and the
remaining eight were victims. Two
of the injured were just inside the school however, they were injured from
outside and therefore included in the outside summary. Critical witnesses included students, school employees and adult
citizens who observed something outside the school.
of the suspects ranged from personal acquaintances to selection from
photographic line-ups. Additional
identifications were made based on physical descriptions coupled with
observation of known actions of the suspects. The witness information was broken into three chronological
time segments being “immediately before,” “during,” and “after” the
incident. Based on witness statements, evidence, ballistic reports and the
totality of the investigation, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were determined to
be the only two individuals apparently involved in the shootings at Columbine
Those victims wounded outside the school as a direct result of Harris
and/or Klebold were identified as follows:
Anne Marie Hochhalter
Patricia Nielson, teacher
The deceased were identified as follows:
Throughout the investigation there were many witnesses who had common perceptions and misperceptions of the events during the shooting.
shooting began, many witnesses believed it was a senior prank.
witnesses described events in detail but had difficulty recalling the
chronological order of the events.
shootings many witnesses compared accounts of what had occurred and were
influenced by each other, resulting in multiple interviews for clarification.
inaccuracy of some media reports influenced witness statements.
following is a chronological account of what is believed to have occurred
outside of Columbine High School on April 20th, 1999, based on
statements of witnesses,
evidence and autopsy reports.
April 20, 1999 was one of the first warm, sunny days of the spring. Many students were taking advantage of the spring day by eating their lunches outside, relaxing on the grassy areas around the school building. The first series of gunshots, fired toward the west doors, struck Rachel Scott and Richard Castaldo, who were seated outside, eating their lunch on the north side of the library. Rachel died from the gunshot wounds. Richard was critically injured, receiving multiple gunshot wounds.
Harris took off his trench coat and laid it on the ground near the top of the shortly after he began shooting. Klebold wore his black trench coat the entire time they remained outside.
The gunmen then turned their attention to outside the
cafeteria and started shooting down the incline toward the bottom of the
Harris rested his gun on the chain link fence at the top of the steps and
fired at students below. Daniel
Rohrbough, Sean Graves, and Lance Kirklin had just stepped outside through a
side door of the school cafeteria. One
of them wanted to go to the “smoker’s pit” just off campus for a cigarette
and the other two friends were accompanying him.
Glancing in the direction of Klebold and Harris, the friends noticed two
students with what looked like guns. Their
first thoughts were that the guns were paint ball guns and part of a Senior
Prank Day. They did not think
anything was wrong. They thought it
was a joke.
three walked out the northwest side entrance from the cafeteria, heading up the
dirt slope between the steps and the cafeteria wall toward the gunmen. Harris
and Klebold started shooting before the boys got halfway up the hill.
All three were injured.
students were sitting behind a few small pine trees to the west of the top of
the stairs. They stood up to run
when the two suspects fired gunshots in their direction. Students Michael Johnson and Mark Taylor were struck by these
bullets. Johnson was able to reach the outdoor athletic storage shed where he
took cover with others. Taylor fell back to the ground, unable to flee with the
Klebold went back down the stairs to the area outside
the cafeteria and shot Rohrbough, killing him instantly. He then shot Kirklin at
Graves was able to drag himself back down to a
cafeteria doorway in an attempt to get back inside. He lost all strength and ended up half in and half out of the
door, propping it open with his body. Klebold,
who had just shot Rohrbough and Kirklin, stepped over Graves, now playing dead
in the doorway. That probably saved
his life. The gunman briefly went
into the cafeteria, holding his weapon in what some described as a
“ready-to-fire” sweeping motion. He
did not shoot but looked around and then walked back outside and returned to the
top of the steps.
While Harris and Klebold were shooting from the top
of the stairs, teacher William “Dave” Sanders heard the initial commotion
going on outside. Walking into the
cafeteria from the teachers’ lounge, he saw students beginning to react to the
events outside the cafeteria windows. The
actions on the cafeteria videotape show students standing up, looking outside,
and, based on subsequent interviews, said they were wondering and asking each
other, “What’s going on? Is
this a senior prank? Are they filming a movie?” (Some of the kids knew Harris
and Klebold were active in a video class).
Sanders and school custodians Jon Curtis and Jay
Gallatine realized there was a danger. On
the videotape, the teacher and the custodians can be seen in the cafeteria
directing the students to get down. Students
begin to hide under the lunch room tables and then, realizing the danger, the
students exit in mass up the stairs from the cafeteria to the second level.
By the time Klebold stepped over Graves and briefly
walked into the entrance of the cafeteria with his guns, most students had
evacuated. Others were hiding under
tables or had sought refuge in the school pantry, the refrigerator or kitchen
area. Because Sanders had instructed the kids to hide or get out, the cafeteria
appeared to be empty.
Klebold turned around and walked back outside,
stepping over Sean Graves, and joined Harris back at the top of the stairs.
The gunmen continued shooting their guns, lighting pipe bombs and throwing them into
the senior parking lot or onto the school roof, while shooting toward the ball
fields where students were fleeing.
Meanwhile, Harris continued shooting down the stairs.
Anne Marie Hochhalter was shot
as she stood to run toward the cafeteria from where she was seated with friends
at the curb by the senior parking lot. A friend dragged her away from the
gunfire to the cafeteria wall. He
left Hochhalter near the building and ran into the parking lot, hiding behind
vehicles in the senior lot. From
here he heard someone yell, “This is what we always wanted to do.
This is awesome!” Hochhalter was the last one shot outside the school.
From the onset and continuing throughout the outside
shooting, both suspects were seen lighting and throwing explosive devices onto
the roof, into the parking lot and toward the grassy hillside.
One suspect was seen taking four bombs from inside his coat and throwing
them. The witness also observed a
gun attached to a gun strap that hung to his side.
Others saw bombs taken from a box or bag at the gunmen’s feet.
The gunmen threw a pipe bomb in the area where Hochhalter
had originally collapsed. The bomb
exploded. Additional gunshots were
fired toward the ball fields where students were fleeing.
This time, no one was injured.
now 11:25 a.m. Only four minutes
Most of the students having lunch outside had escaped
to safer areas, and there was not much else to shoot at outside the building.
Harris and Klebold turned toward the west entrance and fired their weapons into
the school as they walked toward the entrance.
The west entrance has two outer and inner sets of
doors with glass windows that were shattered by the bullets from the killers’
Nielson was on her way outside to tell the shooters to “knock it
off,” thinking the weapons were toy guns and that a video production was being
taped. Nielson suffered abrasions
to her shoulder, forearm and knee from the flying glass.
Student Brian Anderson was with a friend in a hallway of the school when they heard explosions and screaming and were told by a teacher to get out. They ran to the west doors but when they exited the interior set of doors and were in the air-lock approaching the exterior doors, Anderson saw Harris shoot through the glass doors and was injured by flying glass fragments as the door shattered.
Both Nielson and Anderson had the opportunity to flee, despite their injuries, when Harris and Klebold were distracted by the
arrival of community resource officer Deputy Neil Gardner.
Gardner had just pulled up in the lower senior parking lot of the school
with the lights on his patrol car flashing and the siren blaring.
Nielson and Anderson fled to the school library.
Nielson, hiding under the front counter, called 911.
Anderson sought refuge in the magazine room.
Harris, just outside the double west doors, turned at
the arrival of Deputy Neil Gardner. From
there, he exchanged gunfire with Gardner.