School shootings were already a problem before April 20, 1999. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris knew that theirs had to stand out. So they planned to make every previous incident look podunk, and they videotaped their boast so the world would know what they had set out to do. And so they turned Columbine High School into an abattoir: murdering 12 schoolmates and a teacher, wounding 24 other people and then, finally, killing themselves in a drama seen live on television. It was not quite the 250 they had hoped to kill, but it was enough to make the incident the worst school shooting in American history. This sudden eruption of violence in the middle of one of the most solidly upper middle class communities in America set off months of soul searching. Parents and school officials discussed the prevalence of violent music and video games; a similar concern arose over school sociology bullies, outsiders and teen goth culture. Parents asked: what are the warning signs that our children are turning out to be their own enemies? On their tapes, Klebold and Harris talk about anger management but not the expected kind. Rather, they were learning to ratchet up their anger and yet keep it secret from everyone else until the day they had to turn it on full blast.
From the Archive:
In Sorrow and Disbelief