The chaos and terror inside Columbine High School on the day of the shootings was horrifying; a person was lucky to escape it alive. But once outside the victims simply moved from one nightmare to another. For the Columbine survivors, the hours following the massacre were full of fear, emotional breakdown, pain and suffering. Parents, students, teachers, first responders... They were the ones who had to wait anxiously for news about the welfare of those still trapped inside. It was days before everyone knew for sure who was dead and who wasn't.
Many of the photos below have been scaled-down to speed load-time. The full-size original images are linked and are incredibly heart-breaking. Some photos are of shooting victims receiving medical treatment at triage stations and aren't for the faint of heart.
This picture of Jessica Holliday (with Diwana Perez, right) would come to symbolize in media updates the suffering surrounding the tragic Columbine High School shootings. Photo by George Kochaniec.
A photo of Jessica Holliday along with other students of Columbine High fleeing the school was turned into a cover for Newsweek later that same month.
Student Ashley Prinzi tearfully watches the school.
When the assault began, people who escaped Columbine during the shooting ran in any direction they felt was safe. Some chose better than others. Some ran and kept running: Several students interviewed later by investigators reported running home or to the houses of friends. Some were picked up in cars by people who knew them. Others got into cars with strangers. Most who left the scene called 911 from their safe locations. Emergency lines were tied up for hours.
People who escaped the horror watched the news with family members and friends, trying to stay informed about the event in progress. Several students, unsure where to go, hid in the surrounding neighborhood in alleys and behind houses, alone and in groups. Many didn't come out for several hours, afraid of being shot.
Teens escape down Pierce Ave
Coming back from hiding in an alley behind the school.
More students who fled the school were rounded up and brought back from around the neighborhood to be taken to Leawood Elementary or the Littleton Public Library to be picked up by terrified parents.
Teens wait anxiously outside of Columbine, fearing for those still inside.
Tears of fear turn to ones of joy as friends are reunited.
Students and teachers freed from the staff lounge & cafeteria restrooms run from Columbine.
Danny Rohrbough's body can be seen at the base of the stairs that lead to Columbine High School's west entrance.
Students loaded onto buses watch Columbine, waiting to be taken to Leawood Elementary where their families await their safe return.