Lights, Camera...No Comment

Two years after the shootings, 60 Minutes brings Columbine back to prime time -- and local officials get camera-shy.

Finally released Tuesday, the affidavit shows that the investigator was able to link Harris to another open case involving pipe-bomb materials found in a field. "You tell me there isn't enough in this affidavit to get a search warrant? In what universe?" demands a livid Randy Brown.

Item two: After the killings, school officials took an odd comfort in the news that police hadn't found any drugs in student lockers when they processed the crime scene. But glimpses of another side of Columbine are scattered through the investigative files, including a report of a bag of marijuana found outside the school. Hardly stop-the-presses stuff, but it's one strand in a larger puzzle. According to the autopsies, Harris and Klebold had no drugs in their systems -- other than trace amounts in Harris's system of the prescription drug Luvox, an inhibitor of anxiety and obsessive-compulsive behavior -- but the evidence log obtained by CBS through its court action indicates that a drug pipe was found on one of their bodies.

Other inside dope on dope could be contained in the interviews a Jeffco investigator conducted with former Columbine student Brooks Brown. I say "could be," because the written record of those interviews is missing -- one of the most glaring omissions from the investigative files. Assistant County Attorney William Tuthill's response to a request for the documents was coy: "No report was generated if there was nothing to report."

Jay Vollmar
Sitdowns: Victims' families had plenty to tell Ed Bradley; police sources were another matter.
photo courtesy of CBS News
Sitdowns: Victims' families had plenty to tell Ed Bradley; police sources were another matter.

Actually, the 11,000 pages of investigative files released to date contain countless examples of interviews that generated no new information but were written up anyway. Brooks Brown and his parents -- whose ongoing feud with Stone led to a failed effort to recall the sheriff last year -- say Brooks spent several hours with a Jeffco investigator and an FBI agent, answering questions about his friendship with Klebold and conflicts with Harris. Other police reports make reference to the statements Brown gave in those interviews. But the statements themselves are missing.

Brooks Brown doesn't know what happened to his interviews. He does, however, recall telling the investigators that somebody ought to check out the Subway shop near the high school, which had become a haven for drug dealing. Nearly a year after the massacre, two Columbine teens were murdered in that same sandwich shop. The killings remain unsolved, but speculation that the crime was drug-related continues.

Item three: In concocting its official report of the events of April 20, 1999, the sheriff's office had to ignore or contort several crucial details found in its own deputies' statements about what they saw, heard and did. The result is a "minute-by-minute" timeline that is not only flawed, but misleading.

Take, for instance, the official story of the first few minutes of the attack, before the library rampage. According to the report, Deputy Gardner pulls into the Columbine parking lot, sirens blazing, at 11:24 a.m. His arrival distracts Harris and Klebold from their killing spree. Harris, who is at that moment outside the west doors, firing into the doors and wounding teacher Patty Nielson and student Brian Anderson, turns and opens fire on Gardner.

When Gardner returns fire, Harris retreats into the building. Two minutes later he reappears, and this time both Gardner and motorcycle cop Paul Smoker shoot at him. Harris retreats into the building again. The library killings begin three minutes later, with the handful of deputies outside helpless to do anything about it.

It's a heck of a story, but it doesn't match up with the times and circumstances reflected in dispatch calls and police reports. In their statements, both Gardner and Andy Marton, a school employee who was riding with Gardner, report that there was already shooting going on inside the building when they arrived. Both say that Harris came out of the west doors to engage them, rather than being "distracted" in the middle of his shooting spree outside. Klebold doesn't make an appearance at all.

And when did this happen? Gardner's 11:26 a.m. call to the dispatcher is about shots in the building, not about being under fire or even seeing a shooter. He doesn't report "getting a couple of shots off at the shooter" until 11:29. His actions during the first five minutes after his arrival remain unclear.

As for Smoker, the report places him on the west side of the school, firing at Harris, at 11:26. But his statement indicates he's still in Clement Park, north of the school, when he hears Gardner's 11:26 call for assistance. At 11:28 he reports to dispatch that the shooter is wearing a black trench coat -- information he gathered from students fleeing into the park. According to his statement, he doesn't fire on Harris at the west doors until after "a whole slew of kids ran out of the cafeteria. Numerous had gunshots, bleeding all over the place."

Those kids didn't come out of the cafeteria. The only injured party in the cafeteria was a teacher, caught on the surveillance videotape as he's bowled over by a pipe bomb -- an event the report ignores. No, those kids ran and crawled out of the library emergency exit around 11:37 a.m., after Klebold and Harris left the library, and took cover behind the patrol car manned by Smoker and another deputy.

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