Why? Helluva fine question and one that will never truly be answered because the two guys who know for sure are both dead. The media has parted out blame toward everything from Doom
and other violent games, to goth/industrial music
, clothes, Hitler, internet chatrooms, racism, gun control, mental instability; even the parents and the school district have suffered the brunt of finger-pointing for not having a better idea of what was going on in the lives of Eric Harris
and Dylan Klebold
There are many 'Why's in this sad story; there are hundreds of them imbedded throughout the pages of this website. Some of the 'why's may never be known. There are several police reports
that show a recent history of trouble Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were responsible for prior to the shootings at Columbine; reports of threats and violence that were swept under the rug
by the local law enforcement, kept hidden for months after the tragedy.
So why didn't the parents notice the foreshadowing in their sons that seems to be so obvious to so many, when viewed in retrospect? Were the Klebolds and Harrises so certain that their intelligent boys were basically good people that they could overlook the fact that they were finding pipe bombs
in their personal possessions? The way the boys dressed, the facts that they were making bombs, went shooting at Rampart Range, broke into a van, threatened neighbors, wrote violent stories... these things were not unknown to either boys' parental units.
Eric had been in treatment for anger management and was supposed to be taking medication to help stabilize his moods. When the shootings occurred, Dylan's father showed up at the scene and told officers he had a "feeling" his son was involved. Teachers
and friends of Dylan and Eric, even families of their friends had noted peculiar behavior and tried to bring it to the attention of the parents but it never went anywhere. Both boys gloated in their home videos
about the many times they thought they were busted in their plans only to narrowly slide under the radar.
But why? Their Basement Tapes say it best
, perhaps, and those tapes are still being held
by Jefferson County for, as the officials have said recently, the next 20 years. In 2006 the release of the tapes was considered but eventually decided against, though Jefferson County did release more of the shooters' writing and other pertinent files (found in the 946-page Columbine Documents
). The Harrises fought the release of those materials due to the fact that Wayne Harris' diary was also included in the files, detailing out how he'd been tracking Eric's unusual and criminal behavior before the shootings occurred.
What little we have been able to see of the actual Basement Tapes paints a stark portrait of two very angry young men -- teens who were sick to death of a situation they despised so much that they were willing and able to try and blow up their school, and take as many people with it as possible including themselves.
Forewarning aside, slow intervention
on the part of the Denver SWAT team
certainly factored into how many people bled to death waiting for help that wasn't coming - it took them over an hour to get inside the building to free twenty of the hundreds of kids trapped inside and another two hours
to actually make it into the area where weapons had actually been fired.
As I've searched for the 'Why?' myself, I've collected the information I've found and organized it into this website: a grim museum of sorts. In order to better get an idea of the flow of events I put together a narrative timeline
of events leading up to and including April 20th, 1999. The information is derived from various sources
, primarily eye-witness reports taken directly from the Columbine Report
When it gets down to it though, the only people who really knew what was going on that day - why things happened the way they did - were Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold... and they're dead. The closest we'll come to knowing what was on their minds is by studying the journals
and other clues they left behind.
Yes, I do have my own opinions and thoughts on this subject and due to the surprising number of requests for it, I've put the short version of it here.