columbine: a true crime story


Harris sticks his head under a table and points a gun, maybe the carbine rifle, at John Savage. Savage scoots away. Harris points the gun again. Savage scoots. Harris stands up. 
“Who is under the table?” Harris asks. “Identify yourself." 
"It’s me, John,” says Savage, who knows Harris and Klebold from classes, but considers them more acquaintances than friends. 
“John Savage?” Klebold says. 
“Yes,” Savage replies. 
“Hi,” Klebold says. 
“Hi Dylan,” says Savage. “What are you doing?" 
"Oh, just killing people,” Klebold says, shrugging. 
“Are you going to kill me?” Savage asks. 
Klebold looks at him a second. “No dude, just run,” he says. “Just get out of here." 
He runs outside, sprinting at top speed. 

- About the conversation between Dylan and John during the massacre in Columbine, A True Crime Story by Jeff Kass. 

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The Marysville Pilchuck High School shooting occurred in Marysville, Washington, on October 24, 2014, when 15-year-old freshman student Jaylen Fryberg shot five other students at Marysville Pilchuck High School, fatally wounding four, before fatally shooting himself. Fryberg’s father, Raymond Fryberg, was arrested and convicted the following year for illegally purchasing and owning the gun used in the shooting, among other firearms.

 The Marysville-Pilchuck shooting is the deadliest high school shooting in a decade, the second deadliest since Columbine. The tragedy was likely also the only major school shooting in which the killer solely targeted his friends. 

Prior to the shooting, Fryberg invited several students, all of whom were friends, to meet him for lunch via text message. He urged some of them to skip classes they had at the time. Minutes prior to the shooting, he reportedly sent a group text message to his family and the families of his would-be victims.

Carmen Lopez takes a selfie with Jaylen Fryberg on October 23, 2014, one day before the shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, when they were in art class. Some friends say Jaylen appeared distraught the week of the shooting. Others detected nothing unordinary.


“There is not just a psychological profile of school shooters, but an environmental one - one which fits both Eric and Dylan. School shootings overwhelmingly occur in suburbs and small towns, which may be rich in sports, shopping malls, and BMW’s, but poor in diversity and tolerance. Deviation from the white-bread norm is punished, and the high school campus is often the sole arbiter of adolescent status. A loser at school feels like a loser through and through. School shooters have no escape hatch, and nowhere else to turn for self-esteem. Opinions outside of school offered by a big city are not found in small towns and suburbs: There is no Hollywood Boulevard for the punk rockers.”

- Columbine, A True Crime Story by Jeff Kass.


Dylan was intimidated by girls. He did the sound board for theater, where he liked being around other “weirdos,” but in general did not know how to interact with other people. He liked learning, but not school. He had girl friends, but never a girlfriend. (Tom Klebold says Dylan would go out with a group of friends; what Tom called “group dating.”) 
  It wasn’t a romantic relationship but in the summer of 1997 Dylan met Devon Adams through friends she had at BlackJack. Devon, two years younger, would be entering Columbine as a freshman. 
  By the time school started Devon was friendly enough with Eric and Dylan to have breakfast and lunch with them. Dylan was not a morning person, and would sleep until noon or 1:00 p.m. on the weekends if he could. For breakfast he would eat donuts and orange juice, or soda pop. Sitting in the middle of the cafeteria, Eric and Dylan would do class work. Or at least pretend to. They could quote every line from the movie Natural Born Killers and Dylan, usually dressed in jeans and a T-shirt, preferred to talk. Devon also says she was marked for speaking with Dylan: A jock would say, “Why are you talking to that faggot? Are you a dyke?" 

Devon never saw the violence when Dylan was alive. When they whacked each other with foam noodles in the pool, it was all fun and games. Other guys tackled her when they played football, but not Dylan. And when she cut her leg on the field, Dylan flipped out. He called a time out and washed her leg off. He didn’t like dogs and was scared of Devon’s Siberian Husky, but dealt with the animal, again, out of respect for her. 
  "He didn’t want to disrupt anything, you know?” Devon says. “He was always very respectful of everything." 
  Devon did see flashes of anger in Dylan. It might be a "dumb” occasion like getting a bad test grade. Or a spat over something inconsequential. At first, Dylan suppressed the anger. “I remember one time when he and I got in a fight cause I said something I shouldn’t have to him; I was just really, really angry at him, I don’t remember why, I was just mad at him, and he just walked away, and I don’t know if he ever got really mad about it. But he just walked away, and he just stayed away from me for about a week. And then it was fine. We talked about it. It was fine. But he was really, really upset for a while.”

- Columbine, A True Crime Story.

 “Talking to Dylan was like talking to a very intellectual person. He wasn’t a stupid kid. He’s not a thug kid that’s getting suspended. He’s a smart, intelligent kid. I just remember the conversation being at a level; that would you know, you’d sit there and you’d think, ‘Wow, this is a pretty high level conversation for a kid like this.’ You could just tell his feelings around, I’m going to use the politics again but again, he was too intelligent sometimes I felt for his age. You know, he knew too much about certain things and he spoke too eloquently about knowing the law and why he was being suspended and knowing, just you know, speaking about how society is this way towards people.”  

-Peter Horvath, Dean, Columbine HS

“How he knew the law” - Diversion Program, yes/yes? ;)


Eric and Dylan both followed the throbbing bass of techno, electronica and industrial, whether the beats were melodic or hard-driving. Eric called his favorites - Rammstein, KMFDM, 242, Orbital, and Loreena McKennitt - “fairly unique” although in truth they were still plenty popular. (…)
  And there were other reasons behind Eric’s favorite music. He said he enjoyed Rammstein because they were German and he could understand their words. But in his own mind, any German band, no matter the band’s actual beliefs, probably made him feel closer to the Nazis.
  KMFDM takes the initials from the German phrase Kein Mehrheit Fur Die Mitleid, or No Pity for the Majority. The band does not give permission to reprint its lyrics, but Eric wrote that he liked them “because of the points they are trying to get across.” He listened to the song “Son of a Gun,” before he played soccer, and noticed that it, “shows the way I feel about myself.” The song’s fast, tough and overdone beats talk of explosions, apocalypse, and through it all, a superhero. 
  Eric, in true fashion, also pontificated about the bands he hated: 311, Aquabats, Blink 182 Less Than Jake, Pietasters, Reel Big Fish, and “Puff freaking daddy!!! He sucks! He can absolutely NOT rap!!! No one can, because rap is GAY,” he wrote in one of his Web diaries. 
  And he didn’t like rap videos: “They are all the same!! 5 stupid cheerleaders in color coordinated nylon outfits dancing around infront of a curved orblike camera with a dumbass guy walking around swingin his arms sayin ‘uh huh yeyeah werd up you know what im sayin uh huh mmmmhm yeya babey." 
Dylan wasn’t so much into lyrics. When it came to techno, says Devon, "Like, the more bass he could get in that music, like subwoofers and stuff, the better. He really liked that. A lot of it is mostly instrumental, which he liked a lot. He didn’t have to deal with all the lyrics and stuff. He wanted to make up his own mind what the music was about. He did not like to be told what to be feeling. He was an individual. He always strove to be an individual. He didn’t always succeed. You can just lose yourself in techno music. I remember nights staying up with him and he just drifted off. Music shuts off the outside world." 
  Sue Klebold says she once asked Dylan about a poster of shock rocker Marilyn Manson in his room and he replied that he didn’t really listen to the lyrics, but the music. Another one of his favorite bands was the Chemical Brothers. And at one point, he talked with Devon about going to one of their upcoming concerts. But Devon notes, "He obviously never ended up going to it because it came in summer of 1999." 

- Columbine: A True Crime Story by Jeff Kass.
(Drawings; Eric’s drawing of Orbital and Rammstein & Dylan’s quoting of Beautiful by The Smashing Pumpkins in his day planner)
Violet says goodbye to Tate

I’m just going to be real and honest and vulnerable and whatever for a sec.

My emotions are all over the place about this and everything else.

I think you have to look at everything Eric and Dylan wrote and said (especially towards the end) and keep in mind that they were far from ok…they were NOT in a “normal” state of mind. They were unwell. I will NEVER excuse or defend what they did. The fact that to the outside world and anybody who’s ever researched Columbine that they had this point where they went from being average teenage boys to mass murders seemingly overnight and us going what the fuck happened? Is what keeps us so interested and coming back for more.

I personally wonder if it will be like AHS season 1 (that definitely pulled some inspiration from Columbine) for me and maybe other people too. When Addy and Violet have that realization and it dawns on them the weight of what and who Tate was and did.
It’s definitely not about any type of physical attraction to either Harris or Klebold for me. It was always about that kindred feeling of understanding and getting and knowing their suffering. Empathizing with them.

Would it be different if we were able to see the full unedited basement tapes? Would it be different if we actually saw them killing people….?


After the gun show they (Robyn & Dylan) dropped off Eric at his house. Eric put his two guns and other merchandise in the trunk of his car. 
  “Well folks, today was a very important day,” he wrote in his diary. 
  “We have GUNS! We fucking got em you sons of bitches! HA!! HA HA HA! Neener! Booga Booga. heh it’s all over now." 
  Eric inserted a small drawing of a man sticking out his tongue, putting his trumbs in his ears, and waving his fingers to tease. 
  "This capped it off, the point of no return." 
  Despite his joy, Eric still had an empty heart. "it’s really a shame,” he wrote. “I had a lot of fun at that gun show, I would have loved it if you were there dad. we would have done some major bonding. would have been great.”
  But he quickly snapped: “If (I) have to cheat and lie to everyone then that’s fine. THIS is what I am motivated for. THIS is my goal, THIS is what I want ’to do with my life.’" 
  Dylan went with Robyn to her house. She got in her car, and followed Dylan to his house. They were going to study calculus. Dylan drove his car into the garage, put the shotgun under his jacket, and with his other purchases in a bag, went up to his room.

- Columbine: A True Crime Story by Jeff Kass.


Eric wrote that the “most noble sacrifice that I can remember” occurred with Kris (“the best friend I ever had”) when they were riding their bikes on a dirt trail in a wooded area one day. After entering a drainage pipe, a wave of water knocked them out. Kris got tangled up in some fishing wire and couldn’t move. Eric got a bad cut on his right thigh that would require thirteen stitches. But first Eric rode his bike - with one leg - to a boat house and found a knife to cut Kris free. “This was my sacrifice,” Eric recalled. “To save my friend in spite of my pain." 

Eric at this time in his life would also become overwhelmed with emotion. "I hid in a closet,” he recalled. “I hid from everyone when I wanted to be alone.” Other times he recalled sitting in the back seat on the sixth grade school bus “talking about guns, sex, and people.” It was, he wrote, “Our refuge from everyone else. Where we talked about personal things." 

If Eric was a wreck after Oscoda, he was crestfallen after Plattsburgh. "It was the hardest moving from Plattsburgh. I have the most memories from there,” he wrote four years later. “When I left Jesse, and when Kris left, I had a lot of feelings. I felt alone, lost, and even agitated that I had spent so much time with them and now I have to go because of something I can’t stop. It doesn’t take long to make a best friend, but it only takes 2 words to lose one. Those are, ‘We’re moving.’" 

Eric, almost sixteen when he wrote those thoughts, added, "Losing a friend is almost the worst thing to happen to a person, especially in the childhood years. I have lived in many places, but the last three places have been the most fun and the greatest experiences of my childhood. Although memories stay with you, the actual friend doesn’t. I have lost many great friends, and each and every time I lost one, I went through the worst days of my life." 

- Columbine, A True Crime Story


“Eric’s violence is more eye-catching. But he’s the outlier. When it comes to other school shooters, they look more like Dylan Klebold. And while it is said that Eric was the deceiver-in-chief, Dylan was the one who fooled everyone. From the first minutes of Columbine, and through the many years of revelations, people express little surprise it was Eric. Dylan is the one who confounds people. Yet he is the type to watch for.”

- Columbine: A True Crime Story by Jeff Kass


“Eric also told us why he did it, but I would argue he seems to give two different reasons in two different places. In the Web writings, Eric’s violence is often propelled by a sense of superiority over the dumb, the ignorant, and those who cannot play Doom. The Web writings, it could be expected, were also more targeted for public consumption. 
  But the diary entries tell another story. And because they were not necessarily meant to be public, they may be seen as more truthful. In two of the most telling views into Eric’s mind, he is Dylan Klebold: A sad, lonely, depressive. If Eric truly felt superior, it came from a sense of inferiority: 
  In late 1998 Eric writes: 
  Everyone is always making fun of me because of how I look, how fucking weak I am and shit, well I will get you all back: ultimate fucking revenge here. you people could have shown more respect, treated me better, asked for my knowledge or guidence more, treated me more like senior, and maybe I wouldn’t have been as ready to tear your fucking heads off. then again, I have always hated how I looked, I make fun of people who look like me, sometimes without even thinking sometimes just because I want to rip on myself. Thats where a lot of my hate grows from, the fact that I have practically no selfesteem, especially concerning girls and looks and such. therefore people make fun of me… constantly… therefore I get no respect and therefore I get fucking PISSED. as of this date I have enough explosives to kill about 100 people, and then if I get a couple bayonetts, swords, axes, whatever I’ll be able to kill at least 10 more. and that just isnt enough! GUNS! I need guns! Give me some fucking firearms! 
And this diary entry apparently comes in April 1999 (the first Friday of the last month, Eric indicates): 
  why the fuck cant I get any? I mean, I’m nice and considerate and all that shit, but nooooo. I think I try to hard. but I kinda need to considering NBK is closing in. The amount of dramatic irony and foreshadowing is fucking amazing. Everything I see and I hear I incorporate into NBK somehow. Either bombs, clocks, guns, napalm, killing people, any and everything finds some tie to it. feels like a Goddamn movie sometimes. I wanna try to put some mines and trip bombs around this town too maybe. Get a few extra flags on the scoreboard. I hate you people for leaving me out of so many fun things. And no don’t fucking say, "well thats your fault” because it isnt, you people had my phone #, and I asked and all, but no. no no no dont let the weird looking Eric KID come along, ohh fucking nooo.“

- Columbine: A True Crime Story
by Jeff Kass.


Dylan Klebold, one month after the van break-in, scratched something into another student’s locker. For this, he was detained and then suspended. The dean - Peter Hovarth - later talked to investigators about Dylan and stated:
  "Talking to Dylan was like talking to a very intellectual person. He wasn’t a stupid kid. He’s not a thug kid that’s getting suspended. He’s a smart, intelligent kid. I just remember the conversation being at a level; that would you know, you’d sit there and you’d think, ‘Wow, this is a pretty high level conversation for a kid like this.’ You could just tell his feelings around, I’m not going to use the word politics again but again, he was too intelligent sometimes I felt for his age. You know, he knew too much about certain things and he spoke too eloquently about knowing the law and why he was being suspended and knowing, just you know, speaking about how society is this way towards people.”“

- Columbine: A True Crime Story by Jeff Kass.