Trenchcoat Mafia
Trench Coat Mafia
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Although they weren't responsible for the crime, the Trench Coat Mafia (also seen in the news as Trenchcoat Mafia) were blamed. The shooters wore leather dusters that were similar to the trench coats the group wore, and they hung out with several members of the group starting around 1997-1998 -- around the time the original group disbanded. According to many members and associates, the group disbanded around the end of 1998. Several of the members had either graduated or dropped out of Columbine, and those that remained were no longer wearing their trench coats. But the name was dark and exciting, so the news and Internet ran with it. The name 'Trench Coat Mafia' quickly became synonymous with the attack.

Tad Boles, former Trench Coat Mafia member
The group: Social outcasts from Columbine High School who banded together in a sea of pecking orders and cliques. The informal club was founded after Thaddeus "Tad" Boles received a trench coat from his mother for Christmas in 1996. Roughly a week later, his close friend Chris Morris got a similar coat. Joseph "Joe" Stair soon followed suit. Pretty soon, almost all of Boles' friends were wearing them, including John Beachem, Eric Dutro, and Cory Friesen. Other core members included Charles "Chuck" Phillips Jr., Horst Rossmueller, Brian Sargent, Robert Perry, and Patrick McDuffee. Other associates of the group included Josh Barnes, Eric Jackson, Andy Thomas, Robyn Anderson, Nate Dykeman, Pauline Colby, Kristen Theibault, Krista Hanley, Alex Marsh, Devon Adams, Erin Adams, Nicole Markham, Jessica Rusch, Nicole Dickey, Abigail Boles, Zach Heckler, Chris Tibaldo, Kristi Epling, and Nate Epling.

General consensus holds that the group got its name after kids at school teasingly said: "Oh, here comes the trench coat mafia". The teens refused to be ruffled by the title. Instead, they adopted it proudly. They were the gamers and 'weird' kids; the ones who didn't fit in, whether unintentionally or deliberately. And they had found their niche. While they had issues fitting in, however, they weren't the ones behind the guns on April 20, 1999.

The two shooters were Dylan Klebold (aka VoDkA) and Eric Harris (aka REB). The yearbook picture of the Trenchcoat Mafia shown on the right was taken by Cory Friesen. The news media constantly ran this image As you can see, the two shooters are not in that photo nor are they listed in the 'Who We Are' text.

Trench Coat Mafia yearbook picture
Right after the tragedy and again in late 1999, several TCM members came forward (to the media and to this site as well) to say that the gunmen were never part of their group. They said the gunmen were friends of Chris Morris, a TCM member who was a senior at Columbine in 1999. Morris worked with the shooters at Blackjack Pizza as a manager. He was at Cory Friesen's house during the attack. His girlfriend Nicole Markham was at the school, as was Cory's father, teacher Kent Friesen. Mr. Friesen was one of the men who assisted Coach Dave Sanders after he was shot and spent several grueling hours protecting kids during the violent assault.

Both teens told investigators they would not have been at Cory's house playing video games while their loved ones were in danger if they knew anything in advance about the shooting. The group's claims that they weren't involved were later backed up by independent in-depth probes by news organizations such as the Pulitzer-winning Denver Post and official investigators.

Morris and Friesen shared several mutual friends with the shooters, including Nate Dykeman, Zach "KiBBz" Heckler, Brooks Brown, and Robyn Anderson. None of them were considered part of the group, and none wore trench coats. Columbine is a surprisingly small campus, despite how photos may make it appear. Many of the social groups intersected regularly and in many ways. For example, Craig Scott was friends with Cory Friesen and Aaron Brown, who is Brooks Brown's younger brother. Craig is the younger brother of slain victim Rachel Scott, who knew Dylan Klebold since kindergarten. Craig is also a survivor of the massacre, having been in the library during the shooting.

Over the years of investigation that have followed, other names have surfaced as well in connection with the event -- individuals who share responsibility for what transpired due to their part in arming the boys: Mark Manes, a co-worker of theirs at Blackjack Pizza who sold Dylan the TEC-DC9 and went shooting with them at Rampart Range; Philip Duran, who arranged the gun deal between the shooters and Manes; Robyn Anderson, who purchased the shotguns and rifle for the shooters at a gun show. Of the three, she was the only one who did not serve time in jail for her actions, pardoned because she testified before a Grand Jury about the events leading up to the shootings.