Eric David Harris (April 9, 1981 – April 20, 1999) and Dylan Bennet Klebold (September 11, 1981 – April 20, 1999) were the two American high school seniors who committed the Columbine High School massacre. The pair killed 13 people and injured 24 others, three of whom were injured as they escaped the attack. The two then committed suicide in the library, where they had killed 10 of their victims.
BackgroundEric David Harris was born in Wichita, Kansas. The Harris family relocated often, as Eric's father, Wayne Harris, was a U.S. Air Force transport pilot. His mother, Katherine Ann Poole, was a homemaker. The family moved from Plattsburgh, New York, to Littleton, Colorado, in July 1993, when Wayne Harris retired from military service.
The Harris family lived in rented accommodations for the first three years that they lived in the Littleton area. During this time, Eric met Dylan Klebold. In 1996, the Harris family purchased a house south of Columbine High School. Eric's older brother, Kevin, attended college at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
Dylan Bennet Klebold was born in Lakewood, Colorado, to Thomas and Susan Klebold (née Yassenoff). His parents attended a Lutheran church with their children, and Dylan and his older brother, Byron, attended confirmation classes in accordance with Lutheran tradition. At home, the family also observed some rituals in keeping with Klebold's maternal grandfather's Russian Jewish heritage. Klebold attended Normandy Elementary in Littleton, Colorado for the first two grades before transferring to Governor's Ranch Elementary and became part of the CHIPS program. He found the transition to Ken Caryl Middle School difficult.
At Columbine High, Harris and Klebold were active in school play productions, operated video productions and became computer assistants maintaining the school's computer server.
According to early accounts of the shooting, Harris and Klebold were very unpopular students and frequent targets of bullying at their high school. Harris and Klebold were reportedly members of a group that called themselves the "Trenchcoat Mafia", although they had no particular connection with the group, and did not appear in a group photo of the Trenchcoat Mafia in the 1998 Columbine yearbook. Harris's father stated that his son was "a member of what they call the Trenchcoat Mafia" in a 911 call he made on April 20, 1999. Klebold attended the high school prom three days before the shootings with a classmate named Robyn Anderson.
Harris and Klebold linked their personal computers on a network and both played many games over the Internet. Harris created a set of levels for the game Doom, which later became known as the Harris levels. Harris had a web presence under the handle "REB" (short for Rebel, a nod to the nickname of Columbine's sports teams) and other cyber aliases, including "Rebldomakr", "Rebdoomer", and "Rebdomine", while Klebold went by the names "VoDKa" and "VoDkA". Harris had various websites that hosted Doom and Quake files, as well as team information for those he gamed with online. The sites openly espoused hatred for the people of their neighborhood and the world in general. When the pair began experimenting with pipe bombs, they posted results of the explosions on the websites. The website was shut down by America Online after the shootings and was preserved for the FBI.
 Initial legal encountersIn March 1998, Jefferson County Sheriff's Office investigator Michael Guerra looked at Harris's website after the parents of Brooks Brown, a fellow student of Harris and Klebold, discovered Harris was making threats aimed at their son after a falling out between them. Guerra wrote a draft affidavit for a search warrant, but the affidavit was never filed. This information was not revealed to the public until September 2001 by 60 Minutes, though it was known by the police the entire time.
The two boys got into trouble with the law for breaking into a locked van and stealing computers. In January 1998, they were charged with mischief, breaking and entering, trespassing, and theft. They both left good impressions on the juvenile officers, who offered to expunge their criminal records if they agreed to attend a diversionary program to include community service, received psychiatric treatment, and obeyed the law. Harris was required to attend anger management classes where, again, he made a favorable impression. They were so well-behaved that their probation officer discharged them from the program a few months earlier than the due date. Of Harris, it was remarked that he was "a very bright individual who is likely to succeed in life", while Klebold was said to be intelligent, but "needs to understand that hard work is part of fulfilling a dream." On May 1998, Harris typed a letter of apology to the owner of the van, saying he was sorry he did it. However, he was writing in his journal at the same time: "Why shouldn't we, the gods, have the right to break into a van that some motherf**ker left in the middle of nowhere?!"
 Hitmen for HireThe two made a video for a school project that showed them pretending to shoot fake guns and "snuffing" students in the hallway of their school as Hitmen for Hire. The video is known for its swearing scenes, in which they yelled at the camera and said violent things. They both displayed themes of violence in their creative writing projects for school; of a Doom-based tale written by Harris on January 17, 1999, Harris's teacher said: "Yours is a unique approach and your writing works in a gruesome way—good details and mood setting."
 The massacreMain article: Columbine High School massacre
 Day of the massacreOn April 20, 1999, while smoking a cigarette at the start of lunch break, Brooks Brown saw Harris arrive at school. Brown had severed his friendship with Harris a year earlier because Harris had thrown a chunk of ice at his car windshield; Brown patched things up with Harris just prior to the shooting. Brown scolded Harris for skipping the morning class, because Harris was always serious about schoolwork and being on time. Harris reportedly said, "It doesn't matter anymore" and also said, "Brooks, I like you now. Get out of here. Go home." Brown quickly left the school grounds. At 11:19 a.m., he heard the first gunshots after he had walked some distance away from the school, and he informed the police via a neighbor's cell phone.
By that time, Dylan Klebold had already arrived at the school in a separate car and the two boys left two gym bags, each containing a 20-pound propane bomb, inside the school cafeteria. When these devices failed to detonate, Harris and Klebold armed themselves with guns and launched a shooting attack against their classmates. It remains the deadliest attack ever perpetrated at an American high school. Harris was responsible for eight of the 13 confirmed deaths, including that of a teacher, while Klebold was responsible for the remaining five. There were 25 wounded, most in critical condition.
 SuicideAt 12:02 p.m., Harris and Klebold returned to the library. This was 20 minutes after their lethal shooting spree had ended, leaving 12 students and one teacher dead, and another 24 students injured. Ten of their victims had been killed in the library, with their bodies strewn about the floor. Harris and Klebold went to the west windows and opened fire on the police outside. Six minutes later, they walked to the bookshelves near a table where Patrick Ireland lay badly-wounded and unconscious. Student Lisa Kreutz, injured in the earlier library attack, was also in the room, unable to move.
At 12:08 p.m., art teacher Patti Nielson, who had locked herself inside a break room with student Brian Anderson and library staff, overheard Harris and Klebold shout out in unison: "One! Two! Three!" followed immediately by the sound of gunfire. Harris had fired his shotgun through the roof of his mouth, damaging his face and blasting off the back of his head. Klebold had shot himself in the left temple with his TEC-9 semi-automatic handgun, a bullet slicing through his head .
The findings in the autopsy report for Eric Harris revealed that the cause of death was
due to massive head injury secondary to a high energy gunshot wound involving the roof of his mouth, consistent with a shotgun. This wound is consistent with self-infliction.
The autopsy findings for Dylan Klebold revealed that the cause of death was
due to brain injuries secondary to a close contact, large calibre, through and through gunshot wound involving the left side of his head. This wound is consistent with self-infliction.
 Acquiring arms
9 mm Hi-Point 995 carbine, one of the guns Eric Harris used
9 mm TEC-DC9 pistol also known as the TEC-9, one of the guns Dylan Klebold usedBecause Harris and Klebold were both underage at the time, Robyn Anderson (with whom Klebold attended the prom three days before the shooting), an 18-year-old Columbine student and old friend of Klebold's, made a straw purchase of two shotguns and Hi-Point carbine for the pair. In exchange for her cooperation with the investigation that followed the shootings, no charges were filed against Anderson. After illegally acquiring the weapons, Klebold sawed off his Savage 311-D 12-gauge double-barrel shotgun, shortening the overall length to approximately 23 inches (0.58 m), a felony under the National Firearms Act, while Harris's Savage-Springfield 12-gauge pump shotgun was sawed off to around 26 inches (0.66 m).
The shooters also possessed a TEC-DC9 semi-automatic handgun, which had a long history. The manufacturer of the TEC-DC9 first sold it to Miami-based Navegar Incorporated. It was then sold to Zander's Sporting Goods in Baldwin, Illinois in 1994. The gun was later sold to Thornton, Colorado, firearms dealer Larry Russell. In violation of federal law, Russell failed to keep records of the sale, yet he determined that the purchaser of the gun was twenty-one years of age or older. He was unable to identify the pictures of Klebold, Anderson, or Harris shown to him by police after the shooting. Two men, Mark Manes and Philip Duran, were convicted of supplying weapons to the two.
The bombs used by the pair varied and were crudely made from carbon dioxide canisters, galvanized pipe, and metal propane bottles. The bombs were primed with matches placed at one end. Both had striker tips on their sleeves. When they rubbed against the bomb, the match head would light the fuse. The weekend before the shootings, Harris and Klebold had purchased propane tanks and other supplies from a hardware store for a few hundred dollars. Several residents of the area claimed to have heard glass breaking and buzzing sounds from the Harris family's garage, which later was concluded to indicate they were constructing pipe bombs. Harris purchased more propane tanks on the morning of the attack.
More complex bombs, such as the one that detonated on the corner of South Wadsworth Boulevard and Ken Caryl Avenue, had timers. The two largest bombs built were found in the school cafeteria and were made from small propane tanks. Only one of these bombs went off, only partially detonating. It was estimated that if any of the bombs placed in the cafeteria had detonated properly, the blast could have caused extensive structural damage to the school and would have resulted in hundreds of casualties.
 Aftermath MotivationsHarris and Klebold wrote much about how they would carry out the massacre, but less about why. A journal found in Harris's bedroom contained almost every detail that the boys planned to follow after 5:00 a.m. on April 20, 1999. In journal entries, the pair often wrote about events such as the Oklahoma City bombing, the Waco Siege, the Vietnam War, and other similar events, including blurbs and notes on how they wished to "outdo" these events, focusing especially on what Timothy McVeigh did in Oklahoma City. They mentioned how they would like to leave a lasting impression on the world with this kind of violence. That the shooters initially planned and failed to blow up the high school, and not just shoot students, is an indication of how they had wished to overshadow the events that had occurred, respectively, four and six years earlier.
Much speculation occurred over the date chosen for their attack. The original intended date of the attack may have been April 19; Harris required more ammunition from Mark Manes, who did not deliver it until the evening of April 19.
The attack occurred on Hitler's birthday, which led to speculation in the media. Some people, such as Robyn Anderson, who knew the perpetrators, stated that the pair were not obsessed with Nazism nor did they worship or admire Hitler in any way. Anderson stated, in retrospect, that there were many things the pair did not tell friends. David Cullen in his book "Columbine" cites evidence that Eric did revere the Nazis. He praised them a lot in his journal and other friends of his got sick of his frequent Nazi salutes and quotations in the months leading up to the shooting. At a certain point, Eric realized he needed to pull back on making references like that, for fear of revealing his plans. He commented in his journal about how hard it was to wait until April to express all his hatred for the human race. In his journal, Harris mentioned his admiration of what he imagined to be natural selection, and wrote that he would like to put everyone in a super Doom game and see to it that the weak die and the strong live. On the day of the massacre, Harris wore a white T-shirt with the words "Natural selection" printed in black.
 BullyingIn Eric Harris's journal, he wrote about the bullying he received: "Everyone is always making fun of me because of how I look, and how f**king weak I am and sh*t. Well, I will get you all back: ultimate f**king revenge here. You people could have shown more respect, treated me better, asked for my knowledge or guidance more, treated me more like a senior, and maybe I wouldn't have been as ready to tear your f**king heads off...That's where a lot of my hate grows from. The fact that I have practically no self-esteem. Especially concerning girls and looks and such. therefore people make fun of me...constantly...therefore I get no respect and therefore I get f**king p*ssED" and "Whatever I do people make fun of me, and sometimes directly to my face. I'll get revenge soon enough. f**kers shouldn't have ripped on me so much, huh! HA!"
Dylan Klebold said on the Basement Tapes that his older brother Byron and his friends constantly "ripped on him" and that everyone (including those at school) except his family treated him "like the runt of the litter". He also said, "You've been giving us sh*t for years. You're f**king gonna pay for all the sh*t! We don't give a sh*t. Because we're gonna die doing it."
Nathan Vanderau, a friend of Klebold, and Alisa Owen, Harris's eighth-grade science partner, reported that Harris and Klebold were constantly picked on. Vanderau noted that a "cup of fecal matter" was thrown at them.
Josh Chavez who was in the same gym class reported that Klebold was called "Stretch" by some of the athletic students because he was uncoordinated and bad at sports, and that Eric was pushed into lockers and ridiculed because they thought he had a "big head with skinny body".
In Harris's 1998 yearbook, Klebold wrote "my wrath for January's incident will be GOD-LIKE. Not to mention our revenge in the commons."
Brooks Brown believes that the "January incident" was one of two events at Columbine that month rather than the van break-in. The first was an unfounded accusation that Harris and Klebold had brought marijuana to school, prompting a search of their property that enraged them. The second was even more humiliating, exactly the kind of thing that would focus their hatred on the "commons," the school cafeteria.
"People surrounded them in the commons and squirted ketchup packets all over them, laughing at them, calling them faggots," Brown says. "That happened while teachers watched. They couldn't fight back. They wore the ketchup all day and went home covered with it."
In his book, No Easy Answers: The Truth Behind Death at Columbine, Brown wrote that Harris was born with mild chest indent. This made him reluctant to take his shirt off in gym class, and other students would laugh at him.
"A lot of the tension in the school came from the class above us," Chad Laughlin insists. "There were people fearful of walking by a table where you knew you didn't belong, stuff like that. Certain groups certainly got preferential treatment across the board. I caught the tail end of one really horrible incident, and I know Dylan told his mother that it was the worst day of his life."
That incident, according to Laughlin, involved seniors pelting Klebold with "ketchup-covered tampons" in the commons.
 Journals and investigationHarris began keeping a journal in April 1998, a short time after the pair was convicted of breaking into a van, for which each received ten months of juvenile intervention counseling and community service in January 1998. They began to formulate plans then, as reflected in their journals. They were released early from the program due to good behavior, a fact about which they later gloated in memoirs they taped before the shootings. The journals contained notes on "good hiding places" in the school, and areas with poor lighting that could be utilized. The attack was to start at exactly 11:17 a.m., the time Harris estimated there would be the largest possible number of students in the cafeteria.
Harris wanted to join the United States Marine Corps, but his application was rejected shortly before the shootings because he was taking the drug Fluvoxamine, an SSRI antidepressant, which he was required to take as part of court-ordered anger management therapy. According to the recruiting officer, Harris did not know about this rejection. Though some friends of Harris suggested that he had stopped taking the drug beforehand, the autopsy reports showed that he had Fluvoxamine in his body at the time of death. Abrupt cessation of SSRI antidepressants has been found to interfere with normal social functioning in some patients. After the shootings, opponents of contemporary psychiatry like Peter Breggin claimed that the psychiatric medications prescribed to Harris after his conviction (ostensibly for obsessive-compulsive disorder) may have exacerbated his aggressiveness.
A personality profile of Eric Harris, based on journal entries and personal communication, suggested behavior patterns consistent with a "malignant narcissism ... (with) pathological narcissism, antisocial features, paranoid traits, and unconstrained aggression". The report notes that such a profile should not be construed as a direct psychiatric diagnosis, which is based on face-to-face interviews, formal psychological testing, and collection of collateral information.
In his journal, Klebold wrote about his view that he and Harris were god-like and more highly evolved than every other human being, but his secret journal records self-loathing and suicidal intentions. Page after page was covered in hearts, as he was secretly in love with a Columbine student. Although both had difficulty controlling their anger, Klebold's anger had led to his being more prone to serious trouble than Harris. Klebold was known to swear at teachers and fight with his boss at Blackjack Pizza. After their arrest, which both recorded as the most traumatic thing they had ever experienced, Klebold wrote a letter to Harris, saying how they would have so much fun getting revenge and killing cops, and how his wrath from the January arrest would be god-like. On the day of the massacre, Klebold wore a black T-shirt which had the word "WRATH" printed in red. It was speculated that revenge for the arrest was a possible motive for the attack, and that the pair planned on having a massive gun battle with police during the shooting. Klebold wrote that life was no fun without a little death, and that he would like to spend the last moments of his life in nerve-wracking twists of murder and bloodshed. He concluded by saying that he would kill himself afterward in order to leave the world that he hated and go to a better place. Klebold was described as "hotheaded, but depressive and suicidal."
One official report suggested that Harris was a psychopath and Klebold was a depressive, and consequently that Harris was influenced by sadism, whereas Klebold was influenced by revenge. This report suggested that all of the reasons the boys gave for the shooting were justifications in order to present themselves as killers with a cause.
Some of the home recorded videos, called "The Basement Tapes", have been withheld from the public by the police. Harris and Klebold reportedly discussed their motives for the attacks in these videos and gave instructions in bomb making. Police cite the reason for withholding these tapes as an effort to prevent them from becoming "call-to-arms" and "how-to" videos that could inspire copycat killers.
 Media confusionInitially, the shooters were believed to be members of a clique that called themselves the "Trench Coat Mafia", a small group of Columbine's self-styled outcasts who wore heavy black trench coats. Early reports described the members as also wearing German slogans and swastikas on their clothes . Additional media reports described the Trench Coat Mafia as a cult with ties to the Neo-Nazi movement which fueled a media stigma and bias against the Trench Coat Mafia. The misinformation might have stemmed from the jocks calling females who interacted with the Trench Coat Mafia 'Nazi lesbians'. In reality, the Trench Coat Mafia was a group of friends who hung out together, wore black trench coats, and prided themselves on being different from the 'jocks' who had been bullying the members and who also coined the name Trench Coat Mafia. The trench coat inadvertently became the members uniform after the mother of one of the members bought it as an inexpensive present .
Investigation revealed that Harris and Klebold were only friends with one member of the group, Chris Morris, and that most of the primary members of the Trench Coat Mafia had left the school by the time that Harris and Klebold committed the massacre. Most did not know the shooters, apart from their association with Morris, and none were considered suspects in the shootings or were charged with any involvement in the incident.
Sociological investigation into the high school subculture was conducted in response to the killings, with the goal of determining what factors led to the event and whether or not future massacres in other schools could be successfully prevented. In the aftermath of the attacks, some North American high school students attended compulsory seminars that encouraged tolerance and condemned bullying. The effectiveness of this on bullying prevention is not clear and investigation indicated that bullying wasn't the sole cause of the shootings.
Harris and Klebold affected U.S. culture in tangible ways. Eminem mentioned the shooting in multiple songs from The Marshall Mathers LP most notably "The Way I Am." Marilyn Manson dubbed them "The Nobodies" in his song of that name from his 2000 album Holy Wood, echoing the reasons the pair gave for their spree in the lyrics. Manson & Eminem, who were blamed by the media in the wake of the Columbine massacre, criticized their coverage of the event respectively with the lines:
"Some children died the other day / We fed machines and then we prayed / Puked up and down in morbid faith / You should have seen the ratings that day." (Marilyn Manson, The Nobodies).
"They full of sh*t too / When a dude's getting bullied and shoots up his school / And they blame it on Marilyn and the heroin / Where were the parents at? And look where it's at / Middle America, now it's a tragedy / Now it's so sad to see, an upper class city / Having this happening / Then attack Eminem cause I rap this way." (Eminem, The Way I Is) ".
During an interview with Michael Moore, Manson was asked, "If you were to talk directly to the kids at Columbine and the people in the community, what would you say to them if they were here right now?", to which he replied, "I wouldn't say a single word to them—I would listen to what they have to say, and that's what no one did."
There was controversy over whether the perpetrators should be memorialized. Some were opposed, saying that it glorified murderers, while others argued that the perpetrators were also victims. Crosses were erected for Harris and Klebold, but the father of Daniel Rohrbough (the second student to be killed) cut them down, saying that murderers should not be memorialized in the same place as victims.
 Reaction of Susan KleboldSusan Klebold, mother of Dylan Klebold, spoke about the Columbine High School massacre publicly for the first time in an essay that appeared in the October 2009 issue of O: The Oprah Magazine. In the piece, Klebold wrote: "For the rest of my life, I will be haunted by the horror and anguish Dylan caused," and, "Dylan changed everything I believed about myself, about God, about family, and about love." Stating that she had no clue of her son's intentions, she said, "Once I saw his journals, it was clear to me that Dylan entered the school with the intention of dying there." In Andrew Solomon's 2012 book, "Far From the Tree," she acknowledged that on the day of the massacre, when she discovered that Dylan was one of the shooters, she prayed he would kill himself. "I had a sudden vision of what he might be doing. And so while every other mother in Littleton was praying that her child was safe, I had to pray that mine would die before he hurt anyone else."
 The Harris levelsEric Harris created seven known levels for the computer game Doom (known as WADs), and purportedly for the game Quake. The largest and most popular level is called U.A.C. Labs, and is still available for download. Some of the Harris level packs have graphical modifications that enhance the violent content of the game. The levels were not meant to be recreations of the interior of Columbine High School as often rumored.
According to one of the boys' friends, Joseph Stair, Dylan was an avid Doom level creator just like Eric. Dylan had created a level that resembled the school and showed Joseph, but he wasn't interested in playing Doom so he never obtained a copy of the file, and the whereabouts of this level pack are unknown.
 In popular cultureMain article: Columbine High School massacre in modern culture
Harris and Klebold were portrayed as Daniel Lynn and Dara McDermott in the film Heart of America; Alex and Eric in the film Elephant by Gus Van Sant; Cal Gabriel and Andre Kriegman in Zero Day by Ben Coccio; Derwen and Derrick in Duck! The Carbine High Massacre by William Hellfire and Joey Smack; Chance and Will in American Yearbook by Brian Ging; an unnamed shooter in Home Room; Devon Browning in The Only Way; and as Ben Harris in April Showers.
Harris mentioned the murder-themed film Natural Born Killers in his journal, referring to the "holy April morning of NBK". "NBK" was used as a code name for the attack by both, who were great fans of the film.
In 2002, the documentary film Bowling for Columbine was written, directed, produced, and narrated by Michael Moore, a filmmaker from Michigan. It focuses heavily on a perceived American obsession with handguns, its grip on Jefferson County, Colorado, and its role in the shooting.
In 2004 the Columbine High School massacre was dramatized on Zero Hour, with the killers being portrayed by Ben Johnson (as Eric Harris) and Josh Young (as Dylan Klebold).
In 2007, the massacre was documented in an episode of The Final Report.