News

"I'm Full of Hate and I Love It"

Page 2 of 4

Not all of Harris's meticulous planning came to fruition. The gunmen never mastered the art of the time bomb, and they ultimately decided against wearing the "custom shirts," with matching NBK emblems, that Harris envisioned. (On the day of the attack, Harris wore a T-shirt espousing "Natural Selection"; Klebold's T-shirt bore one word: "Wrath.") Many details, though, including the notion of lobbing bombs and firing at students outside, then heading inside to "pick off fuckers at our will," remained remarkably consistent throughout the months of plotting.

Mixed in with the nitty-gritty preparations for mass murder were grandiose fantasies about how far they could go. Maybe they could "hijack some awesome car" and "start torching houses" with Molotov cocktails. Steal a plane and crash it into New York City. Anything was possible, really; in his own sick head, Harris had transformed his estrangement from his classmates into a smug sense of superiority, which he regarded as both a blessing and a curse:

"I hate this fucking world...You may be saying, 'Well, what makes you so different?' Because I have something only me and V have, SELF AWARENESS...We know what we are to this world and what everyone else is...We know what you think and how you act...This isn't a world any more, it's H.O.E." Hell on Earth.

Although he denounced racism on his Web page, he embraced it proudly in his private journal. "I am one racist motherfucker," he announced. "Fuck the niggers and spics and chinks, unless they are cool, but sometimes they are so fucking retarded." But just because he was a racist didn't mean he discriminated; he also lashed out at "white trash p.o.s [pieces of shit]" who deserved to die, too.

When you came right down to it, everybody deserved to die, except maybe ten people: "If I could nuke the world I would."

Harris uncorked his deepest, most venomous feelings in his journal. At the same time, he tried to strike a master-criminal pose, knowing that cops would be poring over his words some day. The result is a bundle of contradictions -- part Holden Caulfield, part Travis Bickel. He boasts of the "big lies" he's told his parents: "Yeah, I stopped smoking....No, I haven't been making more bombs." The big lie about the van break-in was that he was sorry "for doing it, not for getting caught."

He told quite a few lies about the January 1998 burglary, in which he and Klebold were busted and booked for helping themselves to electronic equipment sitting in a van parked in Deer Creek Canyon. As a requirement of the diversion program, he wrote a respectful letter of apology to the van owner: "My parents and everyone else that knew me was shocked that I did something like that. My parents lost almost all their trust in me and I was grounded for two months...I am truly sorry for what I have done."

He also wrote an essay for his court-ordered anger-management class that dripped similar sentiments: "I am happy to say that with the help of this class, and several other diversion-related experiences, I do want to try to control my anger."

Privately, though, he raged against the injustice of it all: "Isn't America supposed to be the land of the free? How come, if I'm free, I can't deprive a stupid fucking dumbshit from his possessions if he leaves them sitting in the front seat of his fucking van out in plain sight and in the middle of fucking nowhere on a Frifuckingday night. NATURAL SELECTION. Fucker should be shot."

Harris also chose to write about the van break-in for a school assignment; he called it "the most significant event that has changed my life." Although he expresses remorse for his actions, the "lesson" he derives from his arrest is to plan ahead: "That experience showed me that no matter what crime you think of committing, you will get caught, that you must, absolutely must, think things through before you act."

His teacher wrote enthusiastic comments in response to the paper: "You have really learned from this, and it has changed the way you think...I would trust you in a heartbeat."

He fooled his teachers, but not the ladies. Among his other preparations, Harris spent considerable energy in his last few months trying to get laid, with little success. The females he lusted after at Columbine seemed to sense that violence was his girl. One remarkable passage in the journal starts as typical adolescent drooling over babes he'd like to bag, but quickly devolves into an orgy of savagery:

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Alan Prendergast has been writing for Westword for over thirty years. He teaches journalism at Colorado College; his stories about the justice system, historic crimes, high-security prisons and death by misadventure have won numerous awards and appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies.
Contact: Alan Prendergast