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Newly found bomb adds weight to theory of accomplices

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Friend: Suspects made a 'bad choice'

April 22, 1999
Web posted at: 8:51 p.m. EDT (0051 GMT)


In this story:

'They were going to destroy the school'

'Final message'

'Very smart guys, bad choice'

Suspects had been through court system

School closed indefinitely

FBI seeks Web site information

RELATED STORIES, SITES icon



LITTLETON, Colorado (CNN) -- After discovering a propane bomb in a cafeteria kitchen Thursday, investigators are continuing to search Columbine High School, where a shooting and bombing spree killed 14 students and a teacher two days ago.

One potential hiding place for additional explosives: the scores of bookbags dropped by students as they fled the scene Tuesday.

"Every kid these days carries a backpack to school," said Jefferson County Deputy Sheriff Steve Davis.

"All those backpacks are still in the school, all throughout the school, and there are briefcases and boxes," Davis said. "(Police) are using X-ray machines and everything else they can to X-ray literally thousands of backpacks, boxes, briefcases, anything that could house an explosive device."

Areas where investigators are gathering and cataloging evidence have been thoroughly searched, officials said. But there are still areas of the sprawling two-story school that bomb squads will continue to examine.

Authorities said suspects Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, both seniors at the school, may have intended to use the propane bomb to blow up the building.

In another development, Harris and Klebold may have made, or tried to make, a homemade version of napalm, sources told CNN. Federal agents would say only that they found a highly flammable liquid during a search of the suspects' homes.

'They were going to destroy the school'

Agents of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms found the propane tank bomb hidden in the kitchen of the school cafeteria.

"These subjects were not only on a killing rampage, but they were going to destroy the school," said Jefferson County Sheriff John Stone.

The device, however, was not armed, nor was it booby-trapped to go off, officials said.

Investigators originally believed they had found two bombs. They later determined it was one bomb, consisting of a 20-pound propane tank and a can of gasoline with wiring attached. It was found inside a zipped duffel bag.

Investigators, who were inside the school collecting evidence and searching for a motive in Tuesday's gun and bomb assault, were evacuated when the device were found.

On Wednesday, police said they had uncovered about 30 explosive devices at the school and elsewhere. The bomb found on Thursday gave new rise to the prospect that Harris and Klebold may have had help -- at least in carrying the weapons into the school.

"The chances are very, very good that we have more than the two people involved," Davis told an afternoon news briefing. "How many were involved, we just don't know."

As part of that probe of the possibility of accomplices, acquaintances, classmates and relatives of the gunmen are being interviewed.

Earlier Thursday, school officials announced that Columbine High, in suburban Denver, would be closed indefinitely.

'Final message'

A possible suicide note in the Columbine High School massacre indicates the two suspects, who killed 13 people and then themselves, acted alone, CNN has learned.

bike
In Tuesday's scramble to safety, students left their bikes behind, tethered to racks around the school  

Two sources told CNN that the "final message," as they called it, was written by one or both of the two outcasts who killed 12 schoolmates and a teacher before taking their own lives on Tuesday.

According to sources, the note said in essence that Harris, 18, and Klebold, 17, acted alone and assumed full blame for unspecified actions they were about to take.

The essence of the note, a source said, was: "Don't blame anybody else for our actions. This is the way we want to go out."

The sources said the note was not found in either of the suspects' homes, but they would not specify a location. Davis said he was aware of a note found at Harris' home, but it was not immediately clear if he was referring to the same note.

The sheriff department spokesman later said the message may have been posted on the Internet.

'Very smart guys, bad choice'

A friend of the two seniors described the Colorado teens as "two very smart guys" who made "a bad choice."

In an interview with CNN, student Alex Marsh, who until six months ago was a member of the so-called "Trenchcoat Mafia," said everyone in the group was ostracized and ridiculed at school. She issued a strong warning against making fun of others who don't fit in.

"They're all over this country, and they're all being insulted, and they're all being ridiculed," said Marsh, 16. "All you people who are saying stuff about them, stop it unless you want another bullet hole in you, too.

"All of us were angry," she said. "All of us had to hold it back, because we couldn't let it out, you know, in a safe way."

The teen-ager said she was struggling to deal with what happened.

"I can't hate Dylan and (Eric) for doing this. It's not in me," she said, her voice cracking. "I haven't even been able to accept it yet.

Alex Marsh
"(Eric) and Dylan had more than enough reason. There was just a general feeling of dislike against anyone who was willing to associate with them. And people may not realize that they are contributing to it." -- Alex Marsh  

"I had friends on both sides. It's not an easy thing," she said.

Suspects had been through court system

Court records described the two suspects as "bright" and "intelligent."

Harris and Klebold had gone through a juvenile diversion program after being charged with breaking into a car.

A final report on Klebold said: "He needs to strive to self-motivate himself so he can remain on a positive path. He is intelligent enough to make any dream a reality, but he needs to understand hard work is a part of it."

Harris' diversion officer's remarks were similar: "Eric is a very bright young man who is likely to succeed in life. He is intelligent enough to achieve lofty goals as long as he stays on task and remains motivated."

School closed indefinitely

Overnight snow that continued into the daylight hours kept some Jefferson County schools closed Thursday. But others, except for Columbine, reopened with tightened security.

Columbine High School
Investigators said the bodies of the victims killed in the shooting spree were removed late Wednesday from Columbine High School  

As they announced that the high school would be closed indefinitely, Jefferson County school officials were trying to arrange for other schools in the district to take in the nearly 2,000 Columbine students so they can finish the academic year.

Police describe the inside of the school as a complicated crime scene where the collection of evidence could take days, and cleanup could take weeks.

More than 20 people were wounded in the attack, and most of them remained hospitalized on Thursday, some in critical condition.

FBI seeks Web site information

The FBI on Thursday sent a subpoena to America Online, seeking information on Web sites and member profiles thought to belong to the two suicide gunmen in the Colorado school massacre.

Just hours after the shooting Tuesday, AOL began removing and preserving data from the accounts it suspected belonged to the teen-agers.

AOL spokeswoman Tricia Primrose said the Internet service provider contacted the FBI the night of the shootings but federal law prevents it from providing personal data to authorities without a search warrant or subpoena.

FBI spokesman Gary Gomez said AOL was the only organization served.

Correspondents Greg LaMotte and Martin Savidge contributed to this report.



SPECIAL SECTION:
Are schools safe?


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