Chronology of a Big Fat Lie

Tracking the official story of the secret Columbine affidavit.

At a press conference, Lieutenant John Kiekbusch admits that someone should have called the Browns back to check the Web address, but argues that the case was hardly a promising one. "If you look at the information that was provided to us, some of it is quite outlandish," he tells reporters. "When an individual on a Web site talks about having exploded numerous bombs and kills numerous people -- obviously, that's not happening. So we're looking at it as someone's fantasy, but we're still pursuing it to see if there's any substance here...We compared that information against explosive pipe bomb devices that had been recovered in the county, and there was nothing to match up there."

But Harris didn't write that he had killed numerous people; he wrote that he was going to kill people. And the Browns vigorously dispute the JCSO's contention that they did not want the case followed up or Harris's parents contacted.

May 4, 1999: Appearing on the Today show, Sheriff Stone suggests the Browns' criticism is "a smokescreen to divert attention" from their son's friendship with Klebold and Harris. "Brooks Brown could possibly be a suspect," he says.

Lieutenant John Kiekbusch at an April 30, 1999, press conference.
photo courtesy of CBS News
Lieutenant John Kiekbusch at an April 30, 1999, press conference.


See the affidavit

Summer 1999-Spring 2000: The Browns make numerous requests for the complete case file on their complaint. They are given essentially the same paperwork each time, but nothing that indicates any followup by the JCSO or even any written record of their meeting with John Hicks. JCSO officials repeatedly tell reporters that the Browns never met with Hicks -- a claim they will continue to make right up until the affidavit surfaces.

May 15, 2000: Judge Jackson orders the release of the JCSO's much-delayed final report on Columbine. The report notes that, after the shootings, Jefferson County District Attorney Dave Thomas was provided with information from the Harris writings and assured the investigators that "there would have been insufficient basis to legally support a request to obtain search or arrest warrants." The report fails to mention, though, whether anyone at JCSO had ever drafted or even contemplated a search warrant affidavit.

November 21, 2000: Judge Jackson orders the release of 11,000 pages of police investigative files on Columbine. The Brown case file is included, but nothing that suggests the case was ever pursued. However, other documents show that investigators had no difficulty accessing Harris's Web site immediately after the shootings. They also show that the Brown complaint was listed as "closed" before April 20, 1999 -- and long before the JCSO insisted it was still an open lead.

February 20, 2001: In response to a request from CBS News seeking any additional paperwork connected to the Brown complaint not previously released, Jeffco assistant county attorney William Tuthill denies that such paperwork exists. "A copy of the 1998 Brown complaint was placed in the investigative files for reference," he notes.

March 19, 2001: Having confirmed the existence of Guerra's affidavit with District Attorney Thomas, CBS asks Judge Jackson to order it to be released.

April 10, 2001: In compliance with Jackson's order, the affidavit is finally released, two years after the shootings and nearly three years after it was written. It establishes that Hicks not only met with the Browns, but passed on the Web pages to Guerra. Contrary to Kiekbusch's assertion that the investigators were unable to "match up" the bomb information with any existing cases, Guerra suspected a link between the bombs described in Harris's writings and the one found in a field on February 15, 1998. The document also lists a correct street address -- and a possible Web address -- for Eric Harris.

April 12, 2001: In a newly released interview with an Arvada investigator, conducted hours after the Columbine shooting, Deputy Neil Gardner states he "had never dealt with Eric Harris" before the gunfight that day and didn't recognize a photo of him -- raising fresh questions about how he could ever have engaged in conversation, light or otherwise, with someone he had never met.

For more Westword coverage of the Columbine Shootings, go to our Columbine Reader

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