Back to School

The bullet in the backpack and other Columbine mysteries.

"They don't want parents involved in threat assessment, and that's a big mistake," Brown says. "Parents are the only ones who care about their children. These other people are paid to do a job, and what they care about is their jobs. They're still lying to us about what happened and withholding information."

Brown no longer has any children at Columbine. (This year's senior class will be the last to have any firsthand memories of the attack.) But he continues to press county officials to release more information about the case. He's convinced that true domestic security begins at home -- and at school.

Two weeks ago, as a result of Brown's persistent inquiries, the Arvada Police Department released 660 pages of records related to the Columbine investigation. Arvada officials say they turned over these records to Jefferson County investigators years ago. But among the materials are dozens of pages of interviews and police reports that Jefferson County had failed to release to the public, despite several court orders and open-records requests. The new releases include the first police interview with shooting victim Mark Taylor and a report by a police officer who found a bullet on Pierce Street, east of the school -- where, according to the official version of events from the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, no shooting occurred.

Harris and Klebold planted two propane bombs in the cafeteria; had they exploded, the bombs could have killed more people than the explosions in Oklahoma City.
Harris and Klebold planted two propane bombs in the cafeteria; had they exploded, the bombs could have killed more people than the explosions in Oklahoma City.


Read related stories in "The Columbine Reader"

Another newly discovered document is a report by an Arvada detective assigned to interview neighbors of one of the gunmen's trenchcoat-wearing associates. The neighbors had generally good things to say about the teen; one woman even told the officer how the boy put plastic bunny ornaments on her tree every Easter, to the delight of her young daughter, and retrieved her cat whenever it strayed.

After the killings, police questioned the associate closely. Because of his physical resemblance to Dylan Klebold, several witnesses claimed that he was one of the gunmen. But he had a solid alibi, and there was no evidence to link him to the crime in any way. Two of his friends conspired to bring about one of the darkest days this state has ever seen, but he was innocent.

Yet even innocent people may know more about terror than they realize. According to another student who met up with the associate in the pandemonium following the attack, he was "quite angry" that day and said to her: "This has got to be Eric Harris's doing."

She told police that the associate went on to explain "that Eric Harris had told him that he was planning on doing something like this...he told her that he wished he had killed Eric before he did something like this."

Perhaps, like so many others, the associate didn't see how such a monstrous plan could ever be more than mere talk. "Evil is unspectacular and always human," W.H. Auden wrote, "and shares our bed and eats at our own table."

All it asks is that we pay it no mind.

Read related stories in "The Columbine Reader"

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