Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Columbine High School Massacre

Well Laid Plans

Harris had indicated in his website, using code names, that his plans included at least two other teenagers. The first name, "Vodka," was quickly identified as Dylan Klebold but the identity of the other name, "KiBBz," could not be determined. On this website, Harris's anger toward students and teachers at Columbine was clearly revealed and his desire for revenge was vented in vivid detail. Also posted was a detailed account of his, Klebold's and KiBBz's experiments with making and detonating pipe bombs. Police intended to review the dozen or more cases of bomb detonations in the Jefferson County in the past 12 months to determine whether they could be linked to Harris and Klebold.

Damage to the interior of the school
Damage to the interior of the school (AP)
Police believe that Harris and Klebold had learned about bomb making on the Internet. Many sites include recipes for pipe bombs and other explosive devices. Although details of the construction of the 30 or more bombs planted at the Columbine school have not been revealed, it has been reported that they were made from materials that could be easily purchased at local hardware stores. As yet, police have been unable to confirm a report from a sales clerk at a local hardware store that Harris and Klebold had bought five large propane filled tanks, nails, wire, screws and duct tape a week before the assault. He also claims that there were two other teenage boys in the car with Harris and Klebold.

Captain Phil Spence of the Arapahoe County Sheriff's department described some of the bombs as being crude and simple, made of carbon dioxide canisters, galvanized pipe or metal propane bottles. Others, like the one which exploded on the corner of South Wadsworth Boulevard and Ken Caryl Avenue minutes before the attack, were equipped with timing devices and were much more sophisticated. Many of the simpler bombs were primed with matches stuck in one end of the pipes. Harris and Klebold had striker strips attached to their sleeves, which they rubbed over the match heads as they walked past. Despite their simplicity, they were still powerful.

One bomb blew a hole through a wall in the library. The largest bomb, found in the kitchen was made out of a pipe bomb, two propane tanks, and several smaller fuel cylinders. Evidence suggests that Harris and Klebold had opened fire on this bomb when it failed to explode. If they had been successful in detonating this and all of the other bombs they had planted, the death toll could have been as many as three hundred.

In the journal found in Harris's bedroom, his and Klebold's intention to kill as many as 500 people had been clearly stated. They had decided to start their attack in the cafeteria at 11:00 a.m., as the highest number of students would be there at that time. Every detail of their intended movements for Tuesday, April 20, 1999 was chronicled in the journal, beginning with an early start at 5:00 a.m. It appears from Harris's writing that Columbine High School was intended to be just the beginning of their rampage. Their ultimate hope had been to continue the massacre in neighboring homes, then to hijack a plane. The grand finale was to crash the plane into New York City. Only a long trail of death and destruction would have satisfied Harris's and Klebold's need for revenge for the perceived wrongs done to them.

Days after the massacre was over, Littleton faced the threat that Harris and Klebold's death was not to be the end of the destruction. A letter was received by the Denver-area  Rocky Mountain News. The note, apparently authored by Eric Harris, blamed their murderous scheme on the parents, teachers, and students of Columbine High. The students were blamed for their ridicule and non-acceptance of those who were different, and the parents and teachers blamed for training them to be sheep. The note ended with the threatening words:

"You may think the horror ends with the bullet in my head, but you wouldn't be so lucky. All that I can leave you with to decipher what more extensive death is to come is "12Skizto." You have until April 26th. Goodbye."

As police made inquiries as to the authenticity of the note, schools in the district made preparations to increase security for the following Monday. The threats were not fulfilled and the police soon announced that they believed the note to have been a hoax.

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