New details of the prelude to the 1999 Columbine High School massacre in Colorado are coming out nearly five years later. The latest disclosure is that sheriff’s deputies in Jefferson County, Co., were told more than 20 months before the massacre that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were making threats and pipe bombs, but the officers failed to take action, the Denver Post reports.
Jefferson County Sheriff Ted Mink disclosed yesterday that a deputy had found a report filed Aug. 7, 1997, by an anonymous resident about an invective-filled Web site run by Harris. The report, hand delivered to a detective with copies of Harris’ postings, indicates that Jefferson County deputies knew Harris was bragging of committing neighborhood crimes and building pipe bombs with Klebold. It was disclosed earlier that Jefferson County deputies failed to act aggressively on a March 1998 complaint about the Web site, even failing to execute a search warrant that may have uncovered pipe bombs Harris and Klebold were keeping months. Harris and Klebold killed 12 students, a teacher and themselves at the school.
Attorney General Ken Salazar said that at Mink’s request, his office will investigate why the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office didn’t look into the complaint from “an anonymous concerned citizen.”
The discovery prompted officials to call the families of Columbine victims together. And, just as they were told of previous problems many cried as Mink and Salazar recounted the blown chance to investigate Harris and Klebold. “I tell you, this totally floored me this morning,” said Sue Petrone, mother of slain student Daniel Rohrbough. “My son should still be alive. … Thirteen people should be here today.”
The meeting occurred a week after the sheriff released a 15-minute videotape of Harris, 18, and Klebold, 17, that the teens made of themselves firing guns in a forest six weeks before the nation’s worst school shooting.
The implications of the discovery are far-reaching, says the Rocky Mountain News.
The report was forwarded to investigator John Hicks – the same detective who had a hand in drafting an affidavit for a search warrant for Harris’ home in 1998 that was never followed through on. Hicks left the sheriff’s office in 2000 and moved to South Carolina.
“This is very troubling that once again we find there were reports, and they go through the same investigator’s hands,” said Brian Rohrbough, Danny’s father. “It’s very difficult not to come to the conclusion that Detective Hicks is partially responsible for my son’s death.”