“The Trench Coat Mafia”
Dylan Klebold (born 11 September 1981), 17, and Eric Harris (born 9 April 1981), 18, were pupils at Columbine High School. Both were outsiders and both had been bullied because of their general oddness.
They wore long black coats, leading to their nickname “The Trench Coat Mafia”. In 1997 Harris began posting death threats against the staff and other pupils at the school on his website. With his friend Klebold, he had practised exactly what they would do and kept a journal outlining their plans. They researched bomb-making on the internet and both enjoyed violent video games.
At 11.10am on 20 April (Hitler’s birthday) 1999, they arrived at school in separate cars and planted two bombs in the canteen. They returned to the car park to wait for the explosions, timed for 11.17am. As that time came and went they realized their initial plan had failed.
Donning their trench coats to hide their weapons, they returned to the school. Harris had a 9mm carbine rifle and a 12-guage pump sawn-off shotgun while Klebold was armed with a 9mm semi-automatic pistol and a 12-gauge pump sawn-off shotgun. At 11.19am two bombs, planted to create a diversion, exploded in a nearby field. It was the signal for the two to begin shooting.
Seventeen-year-old Rachel Scott (born 5 August 1981) was the first to die. Her friend Richard Castaldo, also 17, was wounded eight times. The rest of the school was unaware of the happenings, believing that the noise of the explosion was a prank by seniors awaiting graduation. Three more pupils were then shot.
A group of pupils was eating lunch on the grass when Harris and Klebold opened fire on them. The pair entered the school, shooting as they went. A policeman arrived at 11.24am and a brief shoot-out ensued but the boys escaped. Stephanie Munson was shot in the ankle but managed to hop to safety.
Klebold and Harris then went to the library at 11.29am. Inside were 52 pupils, two librarians and two teachers. It was here the biggest carnage occurred — ten people were murdered and 12 more injured. Harris told them all to stand up whereupon Klebold shot a pupil. The two killers sat down to reload and spent the next 13 minutes taunting and shooting until at 11.42am they got bored.
Then they wandered around the school for 20 minutes aimlessly shooting into classrooms and throwing bombs. Fortunately, no one else died and the pair returned to the library where they committed suicide — Klebold with a single shot to the head and Harris a single shot to the mouth — at 12.08pm. Thirteen innocent people died at Columbine High School.
Columbine High School, 6201 South Pierce Street, Columbine, Jefferson County, Colorado, USA
11.19am Tuesday 20 April 1999
A memorial to those who died was dedicated on 21 September 2007.