It has been nearly 20 years since the first mass school shooting in the U.S. -- the shocking tragedy at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, on April 20, 1999. As a “credible” threat closed Columbine and hundreds of other Denver schools Wednesday, John Ferrugia of Rocky Mountain PBS shares part of an upcoming documentary featuring survivors of the massacre in their own words.
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With the 20th anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre just a few away, that school and hundreds of other Denver schools were closed today due to credible threats by an 18-year-old woman.
Today, law enforcement officials say the woman was found dead from an apparent suicide.
In a moment, Lisa Desjardins will speak with two people whose lives were profoundly altered by the tragedy. But, first, we hear from some survivors directly.
In the upcoming Rocky Mountain PBS documentary "Ripples of Columbine," it is clear that many are still struggling with physical and emotional scars.
I was a senior when Columbine happened. I saw one of my friends die and everyone else shot around me.
My name is Heather Martin. And I was a senior in 1999. I was barricaded in the choir office. There were 60 of us in there for about three hours.
I'm Frank DeAngelis, former principal of Columbine High School.
My name is Makai Hall. I was in the Columbine High School Library.
My name is Lance Kirklin. I was shot five times at Columbine High school.
Somewhere around 35 surgeries that first year or two years. Feels like every other month, I was having something done. Just got to a point in 2001 where I found out that I was going to be a dad and was trying to pay my own bills and move out on my own.
It was just too much at that time mentally and physically to just keep doing surgeries. So I stopped.
I don't remember freshman. I don't remember my sophomore year. I don't remember my junior year. I don't remember graduating, barely. I remember Columbine.
I mean, there definitely is survivor guilt, which I felt, I still feel. It's palpable. It's real. Why didn't I put myself in front of the gun instead? Why didn't I roll my body over Lauren? why didn't I pull Gina out with me?
It's — it was more of like a punishment, essentially, because I wasn't injured. I was really angry at God, really upset. Just why was I still alive? Why didn't I get hurt? Why am I still here?
I got into this cycle where it was like it was on repeat, and all I could think about was how bad it was for me, and how horrifying it was.
The images of the shooting were pretty clear and the violence of it, seeing people maimed and hurt and dead. Those things kind of — it took a while for them to leave.
I was very depressed, very angry, couldn't get over the fact that I had gone through something, and I felt the world owed me something.