Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Columbine High School Massacre

A Growing Problem

Students lean on each other for support
Students lean on each
other for support (AP)
Debate in the House of Representatives over a major concealed-weapons bill ignited a new furor about school safety. The shooting at Columbine, while the worst act of school violence in America to date, was not the first.

  •  On April 16, 1999, a high school sophomore fired two shotgun blasts in a school hallway in Notus, Idaho. There were no injuries.
  • On May 21, 1998, a 15-year-old boy opened fire at a high school in Springfield, Oregon. Two teenagers were fatally shot and 20 people were injured. The boy's parents were found slain in their home.
  • On May 19, 1998, an 18-year-old honor student opened fire in a parking lot at a high school in Fayetteville, Tennessee. A classmate who was dating the student's  ex-girlfriend was killed.
  • On April 24, 1998, a 14-year-old student shot a science teacher to death at an eighth-grade graduation dance in Edinboro, Pennsylvania.
  • On March 24, 1998, in Jonesboro, Arkansas, two boys, aged 11 and 13, opened fire on teachers and students as they left a middle school building during a false fire alarm. Four girls and a teacher were killed and 10 people were wounded.
  • On December 1, 1997, a 14-year-old student was arrested after three students were killed and five others wounded in a hallway at Heath High School, West Paducah, Kentucky. One of the injured girls is paralyzed.
  • On October 1, 1997, a 16-year-old boy in Pearl, Mississippi killed his mother then shot nine students, two fatally.

Destroyed windows at Columbine (AP)
Destroyed windows at Columbine (AP)

According to a survey conducted in 1997 by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, 10% of the participating high school students said they had carried a weapon onto school property. In Colorado, 506 students were expelled during the 1997-98 school year for taking weapons to school. This is an 18 % increase from the previous year. 



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