15 people, including gunmen, dead in Colorado massacre
April 21, 1999
In the aftermath of Tuesday's terror, about 30 explosive devices have been found, said Deputy Steve Davis of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department. "Quite a few" bombs were discovered at the school but explosive devices also were found in the suspects' vehicles and at the home of at least one of the gunmen, he said.
Some of the explosives were on timers, Davis said.
Authorities identified Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, both juniors at the school, as the two gunmen wearing black trench coats who laughed and hooted as they opened fire on classmates and set off explosions before killing themselves.
The bombs were "easily made and most of the components can be purchased at any hardware store," Davis said, without identifying the materials.
He said a computer was seized from the home of one suspect, but did not know if the suspects used the Internet to obtain bomb-making instructions.
While some victims died of from gunfire, others were fatally wounded by explosions, Davis said.
"It was a combination of both," he told CNN. "We had victims ... that had wounds consistent with shrapnel and consistent with gunshot(s). There were numerous bombs detonated in this school yesterday during this assault."
Davis said 11 males and four females were killed. One of the males was an adult.
More than 20 people were wounded, some of them critically.
Students streamed into Clement Park next to the school on Wednesday morning to leave flowers and share their feelings about the shootings. "This was out of the blue. Nobody expected it," student Katie Crena told CNN.
She and some of her fellow students locked themselves into a classroom after the violence began. "I thought, 'This is it, I'm going to die,'" Crena said.
"I mean they were so close. They shot the window of the classroom next door. They tried to get... into our classroom. They were playing with the handle and then went on. We could hear people pleading for their lives," she said.
At the White House, President Clinton praised the quick thinking of police and the courage of students and teachers who rushed to protect each other.
Clinton also said children all over America need to be reassured of their safety. "We also have to take this moment once again to hammer home to all the children of America that violence is wrong," the president said Wednesday.
"And parents should take this moment to ask what else they can do to shield our children from violent images and experiences that warp young perceptions and obscure the consequences of violence -- to show our children by the power of our own example how to resolve conflicts peacefully."
Worried about bombs and booby traps, specially trained officers Wednesday resumed a painstaking check of classrooms, discarded belongings and parked cars at the school.
"(The bomb squad doesn't) believe the building is secure," Jefferson County Administrator Ron Holliday told CNN before dawn, just as the search was about to resume.
Davis said once the school was found to be secure, investigators would be allowed into the building and the bodies inside would be removed.
An overnight search for bombs ended at 2 a.m. One device detonated as the bomb squad was removing it. No one was hurt.
"We're trying to make sure the scene is completely swept clean of any potential explosives. That's our first order of business," Holliday said. "We literally have hundreds of book bags scattered all over the school, so those are all potential dangers to our officers," he said.
The attack began when Harris and Klebold, wearing fatigues and ankle-length black coats, opened fire in the school parking lot around 11:30 a.m. before entering the school cafeteria.
Police said they exchanged shots with officers and were later found dead in the school library with self-inflicted gunshot wounds and bombs around their bodies. "It appears to be a suicide mission," Jefferson County Sheriff John Stone said.
No suicide note has been found, authorities said.
Davis said he did not know how the heavily armed pair obtained their weapons. It must have taken "quite a bit of planning to carry that much equipment and ammunition (into the school)," he said.
He said Harris and Klebold were the only suspects, so far. "If, later, our investigation shows that other people were involved in either the planning or the execution of this incident, then certainly we would charge them."
After the four-hour siege ended, police said that as many as 25 people may have been killed. By Wednesday morning they revised the estimated death toll downward to 15.
Four people who knew the suspects, some of them former students, were questioned in the case and released, police said.
Many stunned students, parents and residents of Littleton, an affluent Denver suburb, attended a memorial service Tuesday night, and school officials were arranging crisis counseling for teens struggling to cope with the massacre, the most recent of several school shootings nationwide.
While police have not given a motive, several students said Harris and Klebold were members of a group calling itself the "Trenchcoat Mafia," outcasts who bragged about guns and bombs and hated blacks and Hispanics, as well as student athletes.
Students said the group was fascinated with World War II and the Nazis and noted that Tuesday was Adolf Hitler's birthday.
Members of the group don't talk much to other students and "give people dirty looks," student Josh Nielsen told CNN.
The attackers marched into the library of Columbine High School with guns and pipe bombs, demanding that "all jocks stand up. We're going to kill every one of you," said student Aaron Cohn.
A gunman looked under a desk in the library and said "Peek-a-boo," then fired, Cohn said. Anyone who cried or moaned was shot again. One girl begged for her life, but a gunshot ended her cries, the student said.
Cohn said one killer put a pistol to his head but did not shoot him. Instead, he said, the shooter turned his attention to a black student, saying, "I hate niggers." Cohn heard three shots but couldn't see what happened.
"You could hear them laughing and running upstairs," said one student, who broke down in tears as she recounted the killing spree. "They didn't care who it was and it was all at close range."
TV coverage of Yugo war interrupted
Littleton Adventist Hospital - Important Phone Numbers
|Back to the top||
© 2001 Cable News Network. All Rights Reserved.|
Terms under which this service is provided to you.
Read our privacy guidelines.