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The “Columbine rampage”

The “Columbine rampage” is a screen shot from a surveillance camera taken on April 20, 1999, of senior students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold in Columbine High School’s cafeteria. In the picture, two armed young men are shown holding what look like automatic machine guns. Both seem to be wearing military fatigue pants and boots. There are upturned chairs and tables in the picture and what look like bodies on the floor of a cafeteria. One of the boys was captured in side view making his profile visible. His arm left arm is raised while holding an automatic handgun.

The other boy was also holding a gun but it was on his side. His profile is not visible. The “Columbine rampage” is memorable today because the picture of students killing fellow students is reminiscent of what has happened at other schools in recent years, like the shooting spree in the Virginia Tech University. The incident shown in the picture served as the starting point for the nation to take real notice of violence in schools and why such things occur. Based on media accounts, the boys were seniors at Columbine High School.

Harris was born in Kansas and his family kept relocating as his father was a transport pilot of the United States Air Force. The family finally settled near the Columbine school in Littleton, Colorado area after Eric’s father retired from service. Klebold, on the other hand, was born in Colorado. The family moved near Columbine in 1990 and is active in church. The two became friends and got hooked playing violent online games, Harris being more of an online guru. The kids might have used Harris’ father’s old uniforms during the shooting.

The aftermath of the shooting resulted to twelve dead students and a teacher, and twenty-two wounded. The killers then committed suicide after the incident. Before the official results of the investigation were released, speculations regarding what really prompted Harris and Klebold to commit the crime were varied. Some thought they were outcasts and unpopular in school. Many believed them to be victims of societal neglect, bullying in school, and some proposed that they got influenced by a wrong subculture in school.

However, David Brooks at the New York Times revealed in an article the findings of the FBI investigation that proved false most of the theories. Investigator Dave Cullen and state pyschiatrist Dwayne Fusilier found out that Harris and Klebold did the crime not because of a desire to get even with school jocks and popular kids who bullied and beat them previously. The official report said that these two kids wanted to commit murder on a large scale, where their first plan was to bomb the cafeteria and kill at least six hundred people and then shoot people on their way out.

The report also emphasized that Harris and Klebold were different. Klebold, the investigators noted, was a troubled young man who could have been helped should his depression was made known to his family. Harris, according to the report, was a cold-blooded killer and was beyond help. Cullen and Fusilier believed Harris had a distorted sense of self, thinking himself a superior human being compared to those around him. Because of his belief that he was above good and bad, Harris was capable of cold-blooded murder. The investigators were able to visit the different sites that Harris owned.

These sites hosted war games and openly promoted hatred against people in Harris and Klebold’s neighborhood. The boys also wrote in journals details about their plan, their online games probably spilling over their real lives. Students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold used automated machine guns to kill the Columbine high school students. The purpose of automated machine guns is used for combat situation. In combat situation, the most important thing is damage as much as they can within the amount time they were allowed.

Since they used automated machine guns in school, it seemed like that the school was where they chose as their battlefield. Also that day, they wore military fatigue uniforms, and combat boots which showed that they regarded school as a battlefield. The automated machine guns, military fatigue uniforms, combat boots, and lbe which stand for load bearing equipment were not available in public stores. They had to go specific stores in order to get those items they used in high school rampage. Their outfits obviously showed us they had planned and were well prepared.

The number of casualties in the cafeteria was of a lower degree compared to the kids’ original plan. They actually planted bombs on the cafeteria using propane tanks. Fortunately, only one partially detonated, saving the school from major damage on its structures and from losing more lives. Prior to the attack, the boys created a video showing a simulated shooting in the school’s hallway where they were using fake guns and killing students who are on the way. How they obtained the guns when they were minors?

By asking one of their friends to purchase the guns for them. According to James Brooke at the New York Times, a twenty-two year old former Columbine student was asked by the boys to purchase the weapons, without knowing what they were for. As shown in the screen shot, one of the boys was indeed armed with an automatic handgun. Aside from this, media reports said that they also had two shotguns with sawed off barrels, making them shorter and easier to conceal. As an aftermath of the shooting incidence in Columbine High School, people were shocked, scared, and sad.

It roused the nation to take notice of school violence and how it can be prevented. Prior to this incident, there have been shootings in other schools but very few people were really concerned about them. The Columbine shooting was an eye-opener for the nation. Parents in particular were scared of sending their kids to school without proper security. School is supposed to be a safe and comfortable place where parents send their children to get educational knowledge and make friends. Since the Columbine high school rampage happened, parents no longer trust the school security system.

In response to the violence displayed by the “Columbine rampage,” schools everywhere took measures to prevent similar incidences to take place. R. Matthew Gladden wrote in 2002 that high schools in the country have implemented prevention programs that address violence in school. Students are taught anger management, while the schools began the zero-tolerance policy, which punishes offenders by expulsion or suspension. Schools have warned students that they’d get expelled or suspended if caught carrying weapons to schools or engaging in fights inside the academic premises.

In other areas, schools have developed an assessment program that aims to weed out kids with tendencies to commit violence, especially that of shooting and killing. Paltrasso (2005) conducted a study concerning the assessment process. He relates that this assessment is more appropriately called threat assessment since the primary objective of the program is to identify alarming behaviors that called the attention of fellow students, teachers and the school administrators.

In this aspect, the test were carefully drafted to obtain the most realistic answers from the students. Many years after the shooting in Columbine High School, the nation still remembers as similar incidences in other schools have occurred. While school violence will not be completely solved in the unforeseable future, it is comforting to know that the nation as a whole are taking active role to help schools implement programs that would help to identify kids with problems and lead them to the road to recovery.

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