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The Columbine High School massacre (often known simply as Columbine) was a school shooting which occurred on April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School in Columbine, an unincorporated area of Jefferson County, Colorado, United States. Two senior students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, embarked on a shooting spree in which a total of 12 students and one teacher were murdered. They also injured 21 other students directly, with three further people being injured while attempting to escape the school. The pair then committed suicide. It is the fourth-deadliest school massacre in United States history, after the 1927 Bath School disaster, 2007 Virginia Tech massacre and the 1966 University of Texas massacre, and remains the deadliest for an American high school. The massacre sparked debate over gun control laws, the availability of firearms within the United States and gun violence involving youths. Much discussion also centered on the nature of high school cliques, subcultures and bullying, in addition to the influence of violent movies and video games in American society. The shooting resulted in an increased emphasis on school security, and a moral panic aimed at goth culture, social outcasts, gun culture, the use of pharmaceutical anti-depressants by teenagers, teenage internet use and violent video games.

Preliminary activities and intentEdit

Early warning signs began to surface in 1996, when Eric Harris first created a private website on America Online. Harris had initially created the site to host gaming levels of the video game Doom which he and his friend, Dylan Klebold, had created, primarily for friends. Upon this site, Harris began a blog, which included jokes and small journal entries concerning his thoughts on parents, school, and friends. By the end of the year, the site contained instructions on how to cause mischief, as well as instructions on how to make explosives and logs in which he described as the trouble he and Klebold were causing. Beginning in early 1997, the blog postings began to show the first signs of Harris's ever-growing anger against society. Harris's site attracted few visitors, and caused no concern until late 1997, when Klebold gave the web address to Brooks Brown, a former friend of Harris. Brown's mother had filed numerous complaints with the Jefferson County Sheriff's office concerning Harris, thinking of him as being dangerous. The website contained numerous death threats directed against Brown: Klebold somehow knew that if Brooks accessed the address, he would discover the content and inform his parents, with their subsequent actions leading to the authorities being notified. Brown's parents subsequently viewed the content of the site and contacted the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, and an investigator named Michael Guerra was subsequently notified of the site's existence.Upon accessing Harris's website site, Guerra discovered numerous violent threats directed against the students and teachers of Columbine High School. Other material included blurbs Harris had written concerning his general hatred of society, and his desire to kill those who annoyed him. Harris had begun noting the completion of construction of pipe bombs upon his site. In addition, he had mentioned a gun count and compiled a hit list of individuals he wished to target (although no overall plan detailing how he intended to attack targets he had specified was ever posted upon the site). As Harris had stated upon his website that he was in possession of explosives, Guerra wrote a draft affidavit, requesting a search warrant of the Harris household, but the document was never filed.On January 30, 1998, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold committed an act of theft in which both stole tools and other equipment from a van parked near the city of Littleton, Colorado. Both youths were arrested and subsequently attended a joint court hearing, where they pleaded guilty to the felony theft. The judge sentenced the duo to attend a juvenile diversion program. Within the juvenile diversion program, both boys attended mandated classes and conversed with diversion officers. One of the classes the pair attended focused upon anger management. Harris also began attending therapy classes with a psychologist. However, despite Klebold having a history of drinking and having failed a dilute urine test, neither he nor Harris attended any substance abuse classes. Harris and Klebold were eventually released from diversion several weeks early because of their good actions upon the program, though both youths still remained on probation.Harris wrote an ingratiating letter to the owner of the equipment they stole, offering apologies and empathy for his and Klebold's actions. Harris would continue to attend scheduled appointments with his psychologist until a few months before he and Klebold were to commit the Columbine High School massacre. Shortly after his and Klebold's court hearing, Harris's online blog disappeared, and his website was reverted to its original purpose of posting user-created levels of the online video game Doom. Harris began to write a paper journal, where he documented his thoughts and plans. He also boasted in these journal entries that he had faked his previously written letter of regret to the owner of the van from which he and Klebold had stolen items and applauded himself as to his deception skills. Despite having reverted his website to its initially created purpose of hosting video game trivia, Harris continued to dedicate a section of his website to posting information regarding his and Klebold's progress regarding their collection of guns and building of the bombs they subsequently used in the attack upon their school. (After the existence of this website was made public, AOL permanently deleted the website from its servers.)Medication In one of his scheduled meetings with his psychiatrist, Eric Harris complained of depression, anger and to possessing suicidal thoughts. As a result of this, he was prescribed the anti-depressant Zoloft. He subsequently complained to feeling restless and to experiencing a lack of concentration to his doctor, and in April, he was switched to a similar anti-depressant drug— Luvox. At the time of his death, Harris had therapeutic Luvox levels in his system. Some analysts, such as psychiatrist Peter Breggin, have argued that one or both of these medications may have contributed to Harris's actions. Breggin claimed that side-effects of these drugs include increased aggression, loss of remorse, depersonalization, and mania. A subsequent study conducted by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices identified Luvox as being 8.4 times more likely than other medications to be associated with violence. Journals and videos Harris and Klebold both began keeping journals of their progress soon after their arrests. The pair documented their arsenal with video tapes that were kept secret. Journal entries reveal that the pair had formulated an elaborate plan for a major bombing rivaling the Oklahoma City bombing. The entries contained blurbs about ways to escape to Mexico, hijacking an aircraft at Denver International Airport and crashing into a building in New York City, as well as details about the attacks. The pair hoped that after setting off home-made explosives in the cafeteria at the busiest time of day, killing many hundreds of students, they would use their guns to shoot survivors as they fled from the school. Then, as police vehicles, ambulances, fire trucks, and reporters came to the school, bombs set in the boys' cars would detonate, killing the emergency personnel, media, and law enforcement officers; this original plan backfired when the explosives did not detonate.The pair kept videos that documented the explosives, ammunition, and weapons they had obtained illegally. In these videos, the shooters revealed all the elaborate and creative ways the two had thought up to hide their arsenals in their own homes, as well as the ways they would deceive their parents about their activities. Some videos contained footage of the pair doing target practice in nearby foothills, as well as shots of the areas of the high school they planned to attack.On April 20, approximately thirty minutes before the attack, a final video had the pair saying goodbye and apologizing to their friends and families. Firearms In the months prior to the attacks, Harris and Klebold acquired two 9 mm firearms and two 12-gauge shotguns. A rifle and the two shotguns were bought by a friend named Robyn Anderson at the Tanner Gun Show in December 1998. Through a friend named Robert Duran, Harris and Klebold later bought a handgun from an individual named Mark Manes for $500. Using instructions acquired upon the Internet, Harris and Klebold constructed a total of 99 improvised explosive devices of various designs and sizes. They sawed the barrels and butts off their shotguns to make them easier to conceal. The perpetrators committed numerous felony violations of state and federal law, including the National Firearms Act and the Gun Control Act of 1968, even before the massacre began. During the shootings, Harris carried a 12-gauge Savage-Springfield 67H pump-action shotgun, which he discharged 25 times and a Hi-Point 995 Carbine 9 mm carbine with thirteen 10-round magazines, which was fired 96 times. Klebold carried a 9 mm Intratec TEC-9 semi-automatic handgun manufactured by Navegar, Inc. with one 52-, one 32-, and one 28-round magazine and a 12-gauge Stevens 311D double-barreled sawed-off shotgun. Klebold's primary weapon was the TEC-9 handgun, which was fired 55 times.

MedicationEdit

In one of his scheduled meetings with his psychiatrist, Eric Harris complained of depression, anger and to possessing suicidal thoughts. As a result of this, he was prescribed the anti-depressant Zoloft. He subsequently complained to feeling restless and to experiencing a lack of concentration to his doctor, and in April, he was switched to a similar anti-depressant drug— Luvox. At the time of his death, Harris had therapeutic Luvox levels in his system. Some analysts, such as psychiatrist Peter Breggin, have argued that one or both of these medications may have contributed to Harris's actions. Breggin claimed that side-effects of these drugs include increased aggression, loss of remorse, depersonalization, and mania. A subsequent study conducted by the Institute for Safe Medication Practices identified Luvox as being 8.4 times more likely than other medications to be associated with violence.

Journals and VideosEdit

Harris and Klebold both began keeping journals of their progress soon after their arrests. The pair documented their arsenal with video tapes that were kept secret. Journal entries reveal that the pair had formulated an elaborate plan for a major bombing rivaling the Oklahoma City bombing. The entries contained blurbs about ways to escape to Mexico, hijacking an aircraft at Denver International Airport and crashing into a building in New York City, as well as details about the attacks. The pair hoped that after setting off home-made explosives in the cafeteria at the busiest time of day, killing many hundreds of students, they would use their guns to shoot survivors as they fled from the school. Then, as police vehicles, ambulances, fire trucks, and reporters came to the school, bombs set in the boys' cars would detonate, killing the emergency personnel, media, and law enforcement officers; this original plan backfired when the explosives did not detonate.The pair kept videos that documented the explosives, ammunition, and weapons they had obtained illegally. In these videos, the shooters revealed all the elaborate and creative ways the two had thought up to hide their arsenals in their own homes, as well as the ways they would deceive their parents about their activities. Some videos contained footage of the pair doing target practice in nearby foothills, as well as shots of the areas of the high school they planned to attack.On April 20, approximately thirty minutes before the attack, a final video had the pair saying goodbye and apologizing to their friends and families.

FirearmsEdit

In the months prior to the attacks, Harris and Klebold acquired two 9 mm firearms and two 12-gauge shotguns. A rifle and the two shotguns were bought by a friend named Robyn Anderson at the Tanner Gun Show in December 1998. Through a friend named Robert Duran, Harris and Klebold later bought a handgun from an individual named Mark Manes for $500. Using instructions acquired upon the Internet, Harris and Klebold constructed a total of 99 improvised explosive devices of various designs and sizes. They sawed the barrels and butts off their shotguns to make them easier to conceal.The perpetrators committed numerous felony violations of state and federal law, including the National Firearms Act and the Gun Control Act of 1968, even before the massacre began. During the shootings, Harris carried a 12-gauge Savage-Springfield 67H pump-action shotgun, which he discharged 25 times and a Hi-Point 995 Carbine 9 mm carbine with thirteen 10-round magazines, which was fired 96 times. Klebold carried a 9 mm Intratec TEC-9 semi-automatic handgun manufactured by Navegar, Inc. with one 52-, one 32-, and one 28-round magazine and a 12-gauge Stevens 311D double-barreled sawed-off shotgun. Klebold's primary weapon was the TEC-9 handgun, which was fired 55 times.

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