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Along with Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold shot and killed 13 people and injured 20 at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999.
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Another ominous sign of things to come, Klebold and Harris made a video of them acting as vigilantes shooting “jocks” in the school hallways for a school project.
Beginning some time in 1998,
Klebold and Harris began to plan their attack on Columbine High School. They acquired guns and made pipe bombs. A female friend of Dylan’s reportedly helped them get three of the weapons -- the same young woman he took to the prom shortly before the killings. The fourth weapon came from a co-worker at the pizza place. Harris even posted some of their bomb-making expertise and exploits on his website under his nickname “Reb” and using Klebold’s nickname “Vodka.”
They believed that their actions would bring them fame as well as vengeance. In one of the videotapes made by the pair, Klebold said “I hope we kill 250 of you” and Harris compared the killings to one of their favorite video games, Doom, as reported in Time magazine. They even discussed which director should handle the film version of their attack.
On April 20, 1999, Adolf Hitler’s birthday, Klebold and Harris began their attack. Originally, bombs planted in the school’s cafeteria were supposed to go off first, sending students and teachers into the parking lot where the two planned to shoot as many people as possible. They then intended to trigger more explosives -- such as those attached to Klebold’s BMW -- after ambulances and other help arrived. But the propane bombs didn’t explode so the two entered the school after 11 a.m., shooting at anyone they encountered. They roamed the school for less than an hour, killing 12 students and a teacher and wounding more than 20 others. The rampage ended after 12 p.m. with Klebold and Harris committing suicide in the school’s library.
The shootings sent shockwaves through the community and the world at large. There was an extensive investigation into the shooting and the authorities’ response to the siege. Deeply disturbed by the attack, the governor of Colorado appointed a special commission to study the events of that tragic day. The commission looked for ways to improve the handling of such crisis situations as did many other schools and states across the country.
Unfortunately, other young shooters would follow in their footsteps, and some of them, including Seung-Hui Cho, would mention Harris and Klebold as part of their deadly inspiration.
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Armed and ruthless, spree killers become infamous for turning a flash of anger and resentment into a deadly rampage. Columbine killer Dylan Klebold introduced America to the horrors of school shootings when he killed 13 students and teachers in 1999, and in 2007 Seung-Hui Cho made us relive the nightmare when he murdered 32 people at Virginia Tech. In the end killers like these often become their own victims, when they turn their weapons on themselves.
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