Funeral held for Columbine's 'hero' teacher
Diary: Teens had hoped to kill 500
April 26, 1999
LITTLETON, Colorado (CNN) -- The grieving people of Littleton were burying four more victims of the Columbine High School massacre on Monday, beginning with emotional tributes for Dave Sanders, the teacher and athletic coach praised for actions that saved young lives as he lost his own.
Investigators also said an unidentified 18-year-old female being questioned about whether she purchased any firearms used in the rampage that left 15 people dead is not considered a suspect "at this time."
Although it's believed Harris and Klebold each took their own lives, the possibility of a murder-suicide has not been ruled out, Jefferson County Sheriff's Department spokesman Steve Davis said Monday.
'He's in Heaven, playing basketball'
During a funeral service for Sanders, his students, former students, colleagues and relatives repeatedly expressed their love for the 47-year-old father and grandfather who has been hailed as a hero for rushing students to safety after he was mortally wounded.
Two students told mourners at Trinity Christian Center that shouted warnings from Sanders amid the gunfire saved their lives by giving them time to duck for safety.
"He was a hero before that," added Columbine Principal Frank DeAngelis. "He was so unselfish, someone who brought out the best in people. ... He made me a better person."
Several members of Sanders' family spoke at the service, including two of his grandchildren. "He always made good bedtime snacks for me," said a boy named Austin, the son of Sander's daughter Angela.
Another daughter, Cindy Thirouin, choked back tears as she read from a poem sent to her by a neighbor.
"You must not tie yourself to me with tears; be thankful for all our beautiful years," it reads in part.
"He is gone from our sight, but never our memories," said a niece, Kim Smith. "Gone from our touch, but never our hearts."
Sanders taught business classes and substituted in the science department at Columbine. He also coached girls' basketball, girls' softball and track for nearly 25 years.
His widow, Linda, did not address the service. Sitting in the front row near her husband's flower-draped coffin, she was presented with a basketball covered with written remembrances from school athletes.
Chris McCauley, another athletic coach at the school, said Sanders is "up there (in Heaven), playing basketball. He's the one that's making every free throw ... and having lots of fun."
Funeral services also were being held on Monday for Columbine students Cassie Bernall, Lauren Townsend and Daniel Rohrbough.
Services for the remaining student victims are scheduled for later in the week.
Teen questioned on gun purchases
Lt. John Kiekbusch of the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department told CNN that a diary found in Harris' home showed he and Klebold were talking about destroying "a substantial part of the school" and killing at least 500 people.
"They came very close to being able to do that," he said on Monday.
The two gunmen, both seniors, fired shotguns and semiautomatic weapons and tossed pipe bombs outside the school and in the cafeteria, hallways and school library, police have said.
More than 30 bombs also were recovered from the school, including a 20-pound propane bomb in the cafeteria kitchen.
Investigators are questioning the teen female, believed to be a friend of Klebold's, about whether she purchased the semiautomatic weapons -- a rifle and a pistol. At age 18 she would be legally able to make such a purchase.
According to federal agents, the girl "did make the purchase," Kiekbusch said. But Davis said that had not been confirmed.
"We have not called her a suspect at this time," he said. "There is no arrest imminent, either."
Diary mentions hijacking
The gunmen's diary indicates that if they survived, they wanted to hijack and crash an airplane into New York City, and if that didn't work, possibly flee the country, authorities said.
"It was almost romanticized that if they could pull this off, they'd spend the rest of their lives on an island," Keikbusch told CNN.
There is no indication Harris or Klebold took any steps to accomplish the hijack plan, Kiekbusch said.
The diary, which reads like the "script for a bizarre movie," makes no direct reference to an accomplice or motive, he said. "It's rambling, just this hatred, this evil."No victims were specifically singled out as targets in the diary, Keikbusch added.
Jefferson County school officials said Columbine's nearly 2,000 students would return to classes Thursday a few miles south at Chatfield High School.
Going back "is going to be really hard," student Amber Burgess told CNN on Monday. "I think we're going to be paranoid. But, honestly, it'll be great to be back. I'm ready to go and see everybody."
Columbine's graduation ceremony will be held May 22 at a suburban amphitheater normally used for rock concerts.
Pat Maloney, a youth counselor who has spoken to dozens of Columbine students about the horrors of last Tuesday, told CNN that those who have been able to "talk it out" are doing better than those who are "still holding it in."
Correspondents Carol Lin and Martin Savidge contributed to this report.
Columbine investigation turns to parents' role
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