Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris became known all over America minutes after the Columbine High School shootings because the media covered the tragedy in great detail.
After the Columbine High School shootings, parts of the American news media were heavily criticized for going too far in their coverage of the tragedy in order to increase sales numbers and ratings.
Somewhere between 400 and 500 reporters were on the scene at the height of the media coverage. They brought 75 to 90 satellite trucks and up to 60 television cameras.
The following article is from the American magazine Newsweek. It was back then the second-largest weekly magazine in the United States; in 2003 worldwide circulation was more than 4 million.
The Columbine High School Shooting, 1999
- Key Characteristics of Feature Articles
Columbine High School: Anatomy of a Massacre
- the Call
- Eric and Dylan
- Trenchcoat Mafia?
- Losing Their Way
- Criminal Minds
It was a phone call that will stay with Denver Police Officer John Lietz for the rest of his life. Shortly after 11 last Tuesday morning, he picked up the line to hear the voice of Matthew Depew, the son of a fellow cop:
Depew and 17 other Columbine High School students were trapped in a storage room off the school cafeteria, hiding from kids with guns. Lietz himself had a daughter in the school, and he could hear bursts of gunfire in the background.
Lietz told the kids to barricade the door with chairs and sacks of food, and to be ready to attack the gunmen if they got in.
Several times Lietz heard the shooters trying to break into the room; they were so close that he could hear them reloading cartridges.
At one point, as they pounded on the door, Depew calmly told Lietz that he was sure he was going to die. "Please tell my father I love him," he said.
ERIC AND DYLAN
For a few horrific hours in Littleton, Colo., last week, the school outcasts finally had all the power--and they wielded it without mercy or reason.
As scores of students like Depew barricaded themselves in classrooms and closets, praying for deliverance, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold casually decided which of their classmates should live and which should die, and laughed triumphantly as they meted out fate.
"They were, like, orgasmic," says 19-year-old Nicholas Schumann, who heard the worst of it from a room under the library. Harris and Klebold made at least two female hostages answer a question: did they believe in God?
When they said yes, the gunmen shot them at point-blank range. By the time the terror ended with the killers' own suicides, 12 students and a teacher were dead, and 23 students were wounded, several of them critically.
Klebold and Harris hoped to get the last laugh: it took days for police to find and defuse about 30 propane-tank and pipe bombs they had planted in the school for maximum carnage.
Many mysteries surround the most lethal school shooting in history. Just how many members of the Trenchcoat Mafia might have been involved?
Several eyewitnesses told police and NEWSWEEK that they had seen a third gunman; at least two possible suspects have approached Denver lawyers about their role in the melee.
Police sources expect further arrests this week. But the most vexing puzzle, perhaps, is the motive. How did brainy kids from seemingly stable, affluent homes become killing machines without a hint of remorse?
The murders fascinated and appalled the country, not least because the mayhem unfolded in an archetypal place (a suburban high school) and touched on cultural forces (the Internet, violent movies and videogames) familiar to all Americans.
Still, there is one overarching question: why? The tragedy's roots are most likely twisted, ranging from the availability of guns, to biology and possibly troubled family lives, to the taunts of more popular classmates--and the beginnings of an explanation can be found only in the portraits of the killers.