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 Posted Sunday, April 25, 1999

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WHAT WORLD'S PRESS HAS NOT NOTICED  Far from being Hitler-worshipper, one of the Colorado school-library killers was from a wealthy family . . .

April 25, 1999


Students Planned Attack for a Year, Diary Reveals


Rachell Scott's coffin

Rachel Scott's coffinLITTLETON, Colo. -- The two young men who shot and bombed their way through their high school here planned the assault a year in advance, monitored cafeteria crowds to determine the busiest times and scheduled their suicide attack for Hitler's birthday, a law-enforcement official said on Saturday, citing a handwritten diary.

"It was 'Day 1, we do this, Day 2, do this,' down to 11:15 and it's rock-and-roll time," said John Stone, Jefferson County Sheriff, referring to the precise moment on Tuesday that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold [left and right, below] attacked their school.

He said that the diary began in April 1998, and was seized by the police at one of the boys' homes after the shooting. He did not say which young man kept the diary.

"They were going for a big kill," Sheriff Stone said. The two young men had been building bombs and acquiring weapons "for a considerable time," he added.

The diary details how the writer mapped out the school, noting lights and hiding places, and established a system of hand signals to use during the attack.

The killers"The bottom line of this thing is that they wanted to do as much damage as they could possibly do, and destroy the school and destroy as many children as they could, and go out in flames," Sheriff Stone said of the attack, which resulted in the deaths of 15 people, including the two young men, who killed themselves.

The size of the arsenal that the young men had in the school -- four guns and about 30 explosive devices, including a propane tank bomb, had led investigators to believe they must have had help.

Sheriff Stone did not reveal any evidence of such assistance, but said: "I don't think it was just two guys acting alone. If there was a third, fourth or fifth person involved, we are going to find them."

Sheriff Stone said investigators were examining the two young men's phone and Internet records.

Earlier on Saturday, Steve Davis, the sheriff's spokesman, stressed: "We still haven't named anyone else as a suspect. There have not been any arrests or charges filed against anyone."

Peppered with German phrases, the diary has "this German, Nazi theme to it," the sheriff said. Asked why they picked April 20, he said, "They said it was Hitler's birthday."

This obsession with Nazism clashes with the roots of one of the suspects, Dylan Klebold, whose mother, Susan, is Jewish. Klebold's grandfather, the late Leo Yassenhoff, a wealthy commercial real estate developer in Columbus, Ohio, was a prominent philanthropist who donated so much money to the Jewish Community Center of Columbus that it was named after him.

The sheriff also had the harshest official words yet for the parents of the diary writer.

Noting that detectives found a shotgun barrel on one of the boys' bedroom dressers and bomb-making materials and weapons in the houses, he said: "A lot of this stuff was clearly visible and the parents should have known. I think parents are accountable for their kid's actions."

While the sheriff briefed reporters on the crime, mourners flocked to the second of more than a dozen services expected in the coming days, the funeral of Rachel Scott, a 17-year-old Columbine High School student.

Before the funeral, students and family members wrote messages on her white casket. One, in black felt-tipped marker, read, "Honey, you are everything a mother could ever ask the Lord for in a daughter. I love you so much!!! Mom."

At a memorial service on Friday for another student, John Robert Tomlin, a girl associated with the loose group of students known as the trench coat mafia stood before 900 mourners and apologized for the actions of the two young men, also members of the clique at Columbine.

"There was no sign that they would do this," said the girl, Nicole Makham. Addressing a church filled with the family and friends of the 16-year-old Mr. Tomlin, she said, "We would just like to say that we're sorry for what they did."

Four days after the shooting, four wounded girls and seven wounded boys remained in hospitals, less than half of the total of 23 who were hospitalized last Tuesday. Of the hospitalized, two were listed today as in critical condition, six in serious, and three in fair.

The sheriff also said that his department was assembling a detailed timeline of the police response to the attack on the high school. Responding to criticism that the police reaction may have been slow, he said that within 2 minutes of the first 911 calls, a deputy sheriff assigned to the school was trading gunfire with the attackers. Fifteen minutes later, he said, the first SWAT team entered the high school.

"Early intervention of that first SWAT unit, I think saved one heck of a lot of kids' lives, by pinning these guys down, by putting them on the defensive, instead of the offensive, and subsequently probably led to their suicide," the sheriff said.. Asking why television viewers saw SWAT teams standing outside the school for over an hour, he said, "We didn't want to have one SWAT team shooting another SWAT team."

As the investigation continues, a picture emerges of a suburban world where adults had only superficial understandings of the lives of the two teen-age suspects.

Only two months ago, the two graduated with flying colors from a year long court-ordered juvenile diversion program, administered by the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department. After completing the program and anger management classes, they had their records wiped clean. They had pleaded guilty to breaking into a car last year and stealing electronic equipment.

To participate in this probation program, the boys had signed contracts stipulating that they would not acquire firearms. However, according to the diary, they had started secretly amassing weapons, ammunition, and bomb-making materials last year, Sheriff Stone said.

Frank DeAngelis, the principal of the 1,800-student high school, said on Friday that no teacher had alerted him to behavior problems in the suspects, both seniors.

"I had never heard of the trench coat mafia until Tuesday," the principal said, although the group had a small photo in the 1998 yearbook. In his first public comments since the massacre, DeAngelis said that school records indicated the two young men had never been "suspended or expelled or in big trouble."

Two parents of Columbine High School students have complained in recent days that members of the trench coat mafia had threatened to kill their sons. The family of a black student killed Tuesday, Isaiah Shoels, said that their son had been threatened by the all-white gang which affected Nazi trappings.

Randall Brown, whose son, Brooks, was not injured on Tuesday, has said that Eric Harris broke the windshield of his son's car last year and then posted this message on his Web site: "If anyone wants to kill someone, why not Brooks Brown?" Brown, a neighbor of the Harris family, said that he complained to the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department that Eric was assembling and exploding pipe bombs in the neighborhood and had threatened his son. Brown said that his complaints did not seem to produce any action.

In recent days, as the electronic and print media burned into the nation's collective consciousness the images of students fleeing mayhem at the high school here, dozens of students around the nation have been suspended and arrested for threatening to carry out copycat attacks. In big cities, small towns and suburbs like this one, schools have been evacuated. In Denver and other cities around the country, school superintendents have banned the wearing of black trench coats to school.

In the most serious case, five junior high school students in the central Texas town of Wimberley were arrested Friday and charged with conspiracy to commit murder, conspiracy to commit arson, and conspiracy to manufacture explosives.

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