Alex Youshock bombing and the legacy of Columbine

Alex Youshock, an appropriately named 17-year old, has been identified as the person arrested yesterday for bombing his old school, San Mateo's Hillsdale High; no one was injured in the attacks. And predictably, the word "Columbine" figures in much of the coverage, even though no reference by Youshock to the 1999 attack on that institution has surfaced at this writing. Some pieces make specific use of the term, as in this report from the San Mateo Daily Journal, which notes that the local school district's evacuation and response plan, which had been tweaked after Columbine, worked well. And others have popped up in comments sections: A poster reacted to the San Francisco Chronicle's Hillsdale account by declaring, "It's not funny, jerks. This school is like 2 blocks from me. Anyone here think Columbine is a laugh riot? If so, you should have your breathing privileges revoked."

Of course, Columbine mentions aren't limited to the Youshock case, as a Google News search indicates. The moniker turns up in most headlines about the murder conviction last week of Alvaro Castilla, a North Carolina man reportedly obsessed with Columbine murderers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. And other citations range from the tragic -- the slaying of Columbine survivor Tiffany Lien six years after she faced down Klebold -- to the mundane and gratuitous: A profile of Kansas University walk-on Chris Heinz points out that he's "from Littleton, Colo., a town that gained infamy with the shootings at nearby Columbine High." Total number of hits: 788.

More than a decade later, the legacy lives on.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts