The Aftermath: Colorado School Shooting
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JIM LEHRER: Investigators found more bombs today in a suburban Denver high school. Fifteen people died there Tuesday in a shooting and bombing rampage. Two of the dead were the gunmen, who committed suicide. Jeffrey Kaye in Denver has more.
JEFFREY KAYE: As students in Littleton, Colorado gathered for the third day outside Columbine High school, this time in a spring snowstorm, the Sheriff’s Department announced investigators had found two more bombs inside the school; they were attached to 20-pound propane tanks, and bring to about 31 the number of explosive devices discovered since Tuesday. Authorities say they now have more reason to believe that the two suspected killers did not act alone.
STEVE DAVIS, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department: I don’t know how many suspects were involved. We feel like the two are the only two shooters that we have.
REPORTER: But what about the bombs?
STEVE DAVIS: I’ve addressed this morning the fact that we have so many explosive devices that we are questioning the ability for two people to bring that many devices in. Hopefully our investigation will show us if it were possible to bring in with only two people or not.
JEFFREY KAYE: The bodies of the dead were brought out last night, and today the Jefferson County coroner released the names of the fourteen students and one teacher who were killed. They were: Business Teacher Dave Sanders, who put himself in the line of fire while he shepherded kids to safety; John Tomlin, who enjoyed weightlifting; Dan Mauser, a shy sophomore; Cassie Bernall, an avid writer; Rachel Scott, a budding playwright; Matthew Kechter, a football player; Isiah Shoels, an aspiring musician; Corey Depooter, who enjoyed golfing and hunting; and Lauren Townsend, captain of the girls’ volleyball team. Also killed were Stephen Curnow, Kelly Fleming, Daniel Rohrbough, and Kyle Velasquez. The suspected killers, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, reportedly committed suicide. The police said they had a video made by the two as a class project, purportedly showing a dramatization of them shooting athletes. The suspects’ parents have been secluded, but have issued statements. From the family of Harris: “We want to express our heartfelt sympathy to the families of all the victims and to all the community for this senseless tragedy. Please say prayers for everyone touched by these horrible events.” And from the Klebold family: “Like the rest of the country, we are struggling to understand why this happened and ask that you please respect our privacy during this painful grieving period.”
WOMAN SINGING: Amazing grace how sweet -
JEFFREY KAYE: Coping with grief has been a collective mission of the area’s religious leaders, politicians and counselors — from a community vigil last night in Denver, to private memorial services. Coming together to share pain is an important part of the healing process, according to parent Brian Rider.
BRIAN RIDER, Parent: Well, I think just the gathering and the attention and how everybody feels, I think it’s a really — it’s a healthy atmosphere from here on out. The newspaper headlines were, “Let the Healing Begin.” And that’s it. I think it will strengthen the community.
JEFFREY KAYE: Counselor Jerry Parmer has been working with parents and students.
JERRY PARMER, Counselor: This is something that has — it’s disrupted their view of the world. You know, their view of the world was safe, and it was very orderly, you know, as far as teenagers can be. And this has totally disrupted it. It no longer makes sense to them. It’s no longer safe. So I get them to talk about it and, you know, find out what their feelings are and assure them that whatever they’re feeling is okay. There’s no wrong emotions at a time like this.
JEFFREY KAYE: Outside the still-closed Columbine High School, community members have erected makeshift memorials. A red Sedan has become a kind of a shrine since the shooting. It was parked there by Rachel Scott before she went to school on Tuesday. Katie Trojan says leaving flowers at the car helps her cope with the tragedy and the loss of her friend.
KATIE TROJAN, Student: She was such a creative, imaginative person — she just — it’s really just hard to believe that she’s gone.
REPORTER: What are you doing to cope? How — what helps?
KATIE TROJAN: Just being around her car. It just — just being with friends of hers, remembering how she was.
JERRY PARMER: Part of it is matter of closure. You know, they’re able to visualize because if they don’t come here, they can’t comprehend it in a way. So when they see the scene, they see the car with the flowers, they know that’s someone’s car, and that car’s not going to have that person in it. That brings a sense of closure in way. I mean, it’s not a total closure, but it begins the process of okay, this is real, it’s not a nightmare. I’m not going to wake up and it wouldn’t have happened.
JEFFREY KAYE: On the heels of the shooting, the National Rifle Association scaled back plans for its upcoming Denver convention, but Denver Mayor Wellington Webb asked the NRA to cancel its convention entirely. In Littleton, police are continuing their investigation, checking for more explosives, and questioning more witnesses. Columbine High School, which was badly damaged by the explosives, is closed indefinitely.