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Columbine Report Released
Police Release Information That May Be Used in Lawsuit


Nov. 21 - Hoping to find information that would help them in their lawsuit against investigators, families of Columbine High School students received 11,000 pages of police documents under a court order today.
Relatives of the Columbine shooting victims are trying to prove that police mishandled the response to the high school shooting that left 12 students and a teacher dead on April 20, 1999. The material released today included rambling writings of gunmen Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, accounts of students who witnessed the shootings and reports from police officers detailing the confusion at the school the day of the attack.
Families of slain or wounded students have filed at least a dozen lawsuits against the sheriff’s office and Jefferson County School District and district attorney. They allege officials ignored advance warnings of the attack that Harris posted on an Internet Web site and mishandled the response.
In September, Jefferson County District Judge Brooke Jackson ordered the sheriff’s department to release the bulk of the information, with the exception of details about the composition of the bombs, the names of some targeted students and witnesses and personal information.
Jackson previously ordered the release of the official investigation report, videotapes, 911 tapes and ballistics reports.

Charged Money for Documents
The documents were contained in four 1-foot by 2-foot boxes, which sheriff’s officials sold to victims’ families, the public and the news media for $602 apiece. Some used dollies to cart the material away. Jefferson County spokesman John Masson said the county had to recoup its costs on producing the documents, but declined additional comment.
Attorney James Rouse, who represents seven Columbine families, was pleased to finally get the information, but criticized the sheriff’s department’s hesitance to release the information and decision to charge the victims’ families.
"I think it’s atrocious the way they are treating these families," he said.
The information was released by court order under the Colorado Open Records statutes after an attorney who represents two victims’ families sought the information. The documents show a methodical attempt by authorities to reconstruct what happened when Harris and Klebold stormed the school, setting off pipe bombs and spraying gunfire throughout before taking their own lives.

Premeditation and Confusion
The SWAT officers’ reports reveal confusion at the scene and some delays in entries into the school to rescue students.
There also is a section of interviews with people listed in Harris’ planning book under the title, "Class of ’98 That Should Have Died."
Some, whose names were blacked out, said they weren’t surprised by the shooting. One said there had been rumors for two years about Harris and Klebold’s plans to blow up the school. When an investigator asked if school officials knew about the threats, the student said he had heard they did, "but no one took it seriously."
One eyewitness account, by 18-year-old Jennifer Doyle, a student in the library, said the suspects talked about waiting for a "long time" to carry out the massacre.
"The suspect asked the second suspect ‘you know what else I’ve been waiting to do?’ The second suspect said: ‘Yeah, stab someone.’" Doyle said in the report.
The report does not contain information from autopsy reports, medical information on the victims or names and addresses of students targeted by the two gunmen.

Vicious Attack Recalled
Other students said Harris and Klebold were angry because they were being harassed by athletes. "Eric had a big head on a very skinny body so he just teased him all the time," one officer wrote of a student.
The report also includes an essay by Klebold for his English class, in which an unidentified protagonist carried a black duffel bag "and looked ready for a small war with whoever came his way."
In an interview with the gunmen’s parents, they seemed unaware of their sons’ plans. Tom Klebold said his son was his best friend, had a personality similar to his and "was an easy child and a normal teenager." Wayne Harris told investigators his son was thinking about joining the Marine Corps and was looking forward to graduation.
The report also included statements from hundreds of students trapped in the school during the rampage.
Valeen Schnurr, wounded by a shotgun blast, said the two gunmen were laughing after they shot a student and one of them said, "Look at his brains."