Although they weren't actually involved in the crime, the Trenchcoat Mafia
(also seen in the news as Trench Coat Mafia) were blamed because the shooters wore leather dusters that were similar to the trenchcoats the group wore. The news took the misinformation and ran with it; the still-new internet picked up the idea and the name 'Trenchcoat Mafia' became nearly synonymous with the attack. The group: Social outcasts from Columbine High School
who banded together in a sea of pecking orders and cliques. They were the gamers and 'weird' kids; the ones who didn't fit in, whether by accident or design. While they weren't popular, however, they weren't the ones behind the guns.
The two shooters were Dylan Klebold
(aka VoDkA) and Eric Harris
(aka REB). Take a look at the yearbook pictures
. To the right you can see the Trenchcoat Mafia picture
that the news broadcasts flashed all the time. The two shooters are not
in that photo and they are not listed in the 'Who We Are' text.
Right after the shootings and again in late 1999 several TCM members came forward (to the media and to this site as well) to say that the young men were never part of their group. Most of the kids who'd been in the group had already graduated before the shootings. They said the shooters were friends of Chris Morris
, a Trench Coater who had attended Columbine previously. Their claims were later corroberated by independent in-depth probes by news organizations such as the Pulitzer-winning Denver Post
As for Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, they were friends since junior high school -- they met sometime around the 7th or 8th grade at Ken Caryl Middle School. They shared many interests, including making and testing explosives, German industrial music and playing first-person shooter games such as Doom on their computers. They also shared a few friends in common before even meeting, including Brooks Brown
, Dylan's friend since first grade and a neighbor who rode the same schoolbus as Eric, and Nathan "Nate" Dykeman
, another boy from Ken Caryl. All four would later attend Columbine High School together.
Eric had a more developed internet presence than Dylan did and created several webpages
that were the subject of much controversy after the tragedy, as was the content of both boys' notebooks and journals
. Over the years of investigation that have followed 4-20-1999, 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 even went shooting with them at Rampart Range
; Philip Duran
, who introduced Dylan and Eric to Mark in order to make the gun deal; Robyn Anderson
, a friend of Dylan's 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 the Grand Jury about the events leading up to the shootings.
And what of the victims of the worst school shooting
in U.S. history at the time? The SWAT team
eventually rescued the few survivors who couldn't save themselves -- they were too late to save 13 of them. Those who were injured but alive
and those who survived the day
without physical injury have walked the road to mental and physical recovery as best they can. Families have tried to heal, some more successfully than others, and residents of Littleton struggle to move on with life
were erected in honor of those who died
and the funerals
have all been held. Life goes on, as it has to, though things have forever changed in that Denver suburb.
The repercussions are far from over and never will truly end. December 1999, a disturbing email sent to a student of Columbine High warned the student not to go to school that day; the incident resulted in canceled classes. The same year one of the survivor's parents committed suicide
. A year later Columbine basketball player Greg Barnes killed himself
right after the anniversary of the shooting. He was one of the boys who'd been with victim Coach Sanders
when the man died. Several of the surviving students couldn't cope with returning to school at all, much less Columbine, though several did try. Some even managed to graduate, with honors.
Copycat shootings and conspiracies
to commit similar types of crimes continue to flare up like an angry rash all over the world, prompting reporters to point to the Littleton shooting each time someone goes ballistic, insuring in a grim way that Columbine will never be forgotten... just as the shooters had hoped