A draft search warrant for the home of Columbine killer Eric Harris was kept under wraps after top Jefferson County officials called a “private” meeting in 1999 a few days after the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history to consider their options in dealing with the potentially damaging paperwork, a state grand jury has concluded. Among those at the meeting were the district attorney Dave Thomas, county attorney and a sheriff’s lieutenant, according to a damning grand jury report unsealed by a judge Thursday. A similarly critical report issued simultaneously by state Attorney General Ken Salazar also revealed allegations that the same lieutenant ordered the destruction of a “pile” of Columbine records and uncovered evidence that key documents were apparently purged from the computer system at the sheriff’s office in the summer of 1999, reports the Rocky Mountain News.
The grand jury issued no indictments. But its findings renewed the debate about whether the April 20, 1999, attack on Columbine could have been prevented if sheriff’s officials had done more to investigate the killers in 1997 and 1998, when the duo was first brought to the attention of authorities. “People died because of this,” said Randy Brown after a meeting in which he was briefed on the findings. Brown had alerted Jefferson County sheriff’s officials about the killers in 1997 and 1998. The reports confirmed long-held beliefs by some that officials had tried to cover their tracks in the wake of the Columbine attack. “I learned that everything we suspected for these years was right,” said Joe Kechter, whose son was murdered at Columbine.