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Teacher: Pleas for help ignored

By Trent Seibert
Denver Post Staff Writer

Nov. 22, 2000 - A teacher tried to warn SWAT officers that fellow teacher Dave Sanders was bleeding to death from bullet wounds he suffered while saving students in the Columbine rampage.

The officers wouldn't listen, according to chemistry teacher Alan Cram in interviews with police that were included in 11,000 pages of investigative files released Tuesday.

The reports also tell of a Lakewood SWAT team sergeant who organized a patrol to enter the school about 90 minutes after the shooting began, but was instead ordered by Jefferson County sheriff's officials to search for Eric Harris' and Dylan Klebold's cars in the parking lot.

During that search, one of Sgt. George Hinkle's SWAT members spotted the sign in the school's second-floor window that read, "1 bleeding to death," written by another teacher trying to get help for Sanders.

That SWAT officer, Donn Kraemer, asked if he could answer that call for help.

Hinkle said no, Hinkle admitted in an April 22, 1999, report.

Cram's story and Hinkle's report appear to lend credence to claims in a lawsuit filed by one of Sanders' daughters that police commanders allowed Sanders to die rather than risk their lives in a speedy rescue.

"They consciously decided not to go rescue him, not to undertake a rescue of him," Peter Grenier, the attorney representing Angela Sanders, has said. "For the life of me, I can't fathom any legitimate explanation for that failure." Neither Angela Sanders nor Grenier could be reached late Tuesday.

It is unclear when Cram made his plea to SWAT officers, but he said it was between 2:45 p.m. and 4 p.m., hours after Harris and Klebold began their April 20, 1999, assault.

"Cram said that the SWAT team members were very abusive and wouldn't listen when he attempted to tell them about Dave Sanders," according to the June 16, 1999, report taken by the Jefferson County district attorney's office.

Sanders, dozens of students and several teachers were trapped inside a biology classroom for four hours before the first SWAT officer reached them.

Students pulled pictures out of Sanders' wallet and showed him photos of his three children before he died.

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