On Tuesday, April 20, 1999, 13 people lost their lives at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. Their lives were cut tragically short just 17 days before they were supposed to graduate and head off for the summer.
This seemingly typical, sunny spring day was anything but. At around 11:20 a.m., seniors Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, stormed Columbine High School, killing 12 classmates and one teacher. A further 23 were wounded.
The pair then turned the guns on themselves, dying in the library.
At the time, it was the worst school shooting in U.S. history.
This is a tribute to those who lost their lives at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999.
What Happened on April 20, 1999?
That morning, Harris and Klebold, after a failed attempt to bomb the school, grabbed their guns, exited their cars, and started killing.
At around 11:20 a.m., Klebold and Harris, dressed in trench coats and wrap-around glasses, began shooting fellow classmates outside Columbine High School. Their first victim was Rachel Scott, 17, who was eating lunch outside on the grass with her friend Richard Castaldo.
From there, the two killers entered the school and headed toward the cafeteria; they then turned their attention to the school library. Police arrived at Columbine High within five minutes of the first shots being fired, but didn’t go inside.
This allowed Klebold and Harris to continue their rampage for an excruciating 48 uninterrupted minutes. The two committed suicide at 12:08 p.m. in the school library. Before the day was out, 12 classmates and one teacher were dead. Klebold and Harris also wounded 23 others; six had brain or spinal injuries and several nearly bled to death.
The Victims of the Columbine High Massacre
Below is a list of the 13 victims:
Rachel Scott, 17
Born: August 5, 1981
Hobbies: Acting, writing, art, and photography.
Rachel was writing a play in her senior year and was active in the Celebration Christian Fellowship church.
Daniel Rohrbough, 15
Born: March 2, 1984
Hobbies: Electronics and computer games.
Daniel worked in his family’s car and stereo business after school and helped his grandfather harvest wheat on his 720-acre farm near Colby, Kansas.
Kyle Velasquez, 16
Born: May 5, 1982
Hobbies: The 6’0″ tall “gentle giant” loved computers, the military, spending time with his family, and doing chores around the house.
Because his father was a Navy veteran, Kyle was buried with military honors in Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver.
Steven Curnow, 14
Born: August 28, 1984
Hobbies: Soccer, Star Wars, technology.
He dreamed of being a top gun pilot in the Navy and was looking forward to seeing the premiere of Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace on May 19, 1999.
Cassie Bernall, 17
Born: November 6, 1981
Hobbies: Active in her church and youth programs and loved rock climbing.
Cassie had recently visited Great Britain and her favorite movie was Braveheart. Known for her long blonde hair, Cassie was going to cut it short and donate it to a charity that makes wigs for children going through chemotherapy.
Isaiah Shoels, 18
Born: August 4, 1980
Hobbies: Football, wrestling, and music.
After graduating, Isaiah wanted to attend an arts college and become a record producer like his father, Michael. Martin Luther King III, son of Martin Luther King, Jr., spoke at Isaiah’s funeral at the Heritage Christian Center.
Matthew Kechter, 16
Born: February 19, 1983
Hobbies: Football, weightlifting.
Matthew was an “A” student who was known for being outgoing, happy, and having a hearty laugh. The University of Colorado, where he planned to go after graduating, sent his younger brother Adam one of their jerseys bearing Matt’s name and the number 70, which he wore as part of Columbine’s football team.
Lauren Townsend, 18
Born: January 17, 1981
Hobbies: Sports, drawing, volunteering at local animal shelter, captain of the varsity volleyball team, and a candidate for valedictorian.
After graduating from Columbine, Lauren planned on majoring in biology at Colorado State University.
John Tomlin, 16
Born: September 1, 1982
Hobbies: Church, weightlifting, and Chevrolet trucks.
John worked after school at a local nursery and belonged to a church youth group. It was there that he met his girlfriend of seven months, Michelle Oetter.
Kelly Fleming, 16
Born: January 6, 1983
Hobbies: Reading, poetry, and writing.
Kelly was writing her autobiography when she died. She covered the time from when her mom’s water broke to her fifth year. She was learning to drive and wanted to save up to buy a Mustang or Corvette. She also wanted to get a job in a daycare center.
Daniel Mauser, 15
Born: June 25, 1983
Hobbies: Student debate team, writing, skiing, camping, swimming, hiking, computer games. Also loved pizza, The Simpsons, and The X-Files.
Daniel won the “Stretch for Excellence” award for being the top biology student in the sophomore class at Columbine High School, but he died before he found out. He volunteered at the Swedish Hospital and was preparing for Confirmation in the Catholic Church.
Corey Depooter, 17
Born: March 3, 1982.
Hobbies: Fishing, hiking, golfing, hunting, wrestling, and in-line skating.
Corey had recently taken a maintenance job at a golf club to save up to buy a fishing boat with a friend. He always wanted to be a Marine, and on May 3, 2000, during a ceremony at his grave site in Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens in Littleton, Colorado, he was made an honorary Marine.
Dave Sanders, 47
Born: October 22, 1951
Hobbies: Coaching, business.
Dave Sanders was a computer and business teacher at Columbine for 25 years, and coach of the girls’ basketball and softball teams.
He left behind his wife, four children, and five grandchildren.
At his funeral, Sanders’ daughter Angela said, “What you did in that school on Tuesday was an amazing act of heroism. Even after you were hurt, you continued to be the brave, selfless man we all know you are.”
Sanders had a softball field in Columbine and a scholarship named after him to honor his memory. He posthumously received the Arthur Ashe Award for Courage.