It Couldn’t Be Dylan

“Have you seen the paper, Dad?” he asked Jay Holliday. “Jess is on the front page.”

Holliday went downstairs and picked up his Denver Rocky Mountain News. On the cover was the same photo Derek had seen in North Dakota: 18-year-old Jessica Holliday, her hands clutching her head, her mouth open in a silent wail. HEARTBREAK read the headline, a word that barely expressed the emotion written on Jessica’s face.

Her anguished image showed up on front pages in every corner of the world - along with magazine covers, the Internet, television. The camera caught a pretty face so distorted by despair that only family and friends knew for certain who it was. And only Jessica herself knew what she had been thinking and feeling just then.

But that didn’t stop the rest of the world from claiming Jessica’s pain as its own.

“That picture tells the whole story,” said Jessica’s mother, Kathy Holliday. “I can’t look at it without crying.”

Jessica’s photo seemed to move everyone except Jessica herself. For her, the events of April 20 seemed unreal, and they still do.

It felt unreal when the killers walked through Columbine ‘s library, laughing and shooting, while she hid under a table and prayed.

Because Jessica Holliday is not just the girl in the picture; she’s the girl in the middle. 

She knew the killers, and she knew their victims. They were nice guys. And they murdered her best friend

Jessica had seen Dylan Klebold with the gun before she ducked under the table, and it was difficult for her to reconcile that image with the quiet kid she knew.

“It couldn’t be Dylan,” she thought, even though she knew it was.

Dylan had been in her government class the semester before. He sat right in front of her, so they talked, mostly about homework. He would pass papers back.   It couldn’t have been Dylan.

Later, she told her parents how she thought about standing up and telling Eric and Dylan to stop, as if reason might have been bullet-proof. Maybe they wouldn’t have killed her, because they both knew her.

Jessica told her mother she felt like a coward because she didn’t do anything to save her friends. But now she has accepted the fact that there was nothing she could have done.

“Nobody could have stopped them. Nobody,” Jessica said with certainty. “They didn’t have a reason for shooting somebody. They just shot. I think no matter what anybody would have done, if someone had stood up and tried to stop them, that person would have gotten shot.”

When the killers reached Jessica’s table, they had to reload. She heard them talking about cutting someone with a knife, what that would be like.Jessica, dressed in shorts, became painfully aware of her bare legs jutting out from under the table. Would they cut her? she wondered.

Instead, they left to get more ammunition.

She told her story with feeling, but no tears. Her voice resonated with love for Lauren but no hint of bitterness toward Eric and Dylan.

“I don’t have any hate,” Jessica said. “I feel sorry for the boys, because they hated life so much that they had to destroy others. I feel sorry for them. Because they couldn’t enjoy life, like me and Lauren could.”

“I can’t hate them. Because I knew them, both of them.

"But I don’t want to ever think about them again. Because they killed my best friend. My best friend, who knew every little part of my life. They took her.”

Jessica doesn’t like the photo of herself. As many times as she has seen it, she still doesn’t feel its power, even though she knows it has touched millions. It just rubs her the wrong way.

“It was weird to see myself. I didn’t like it, and I still don’t like it,” she said. “I was so sad that day, and so confused. And then here it is, right there. All the stuff I was going through, and everybody could see it.”

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“Across the room, Valeen Schnurr, who had turned 18 six days before, was cowering beneath another table with her best friend Lauren. They had just been preparing an English presentation on the American Civil War novel Cold Mountain and their pencil cases were still on the desk above their heads. Valeen remembers Lauren holding her hand tightly. Then, without understanding why, Valeen felt her body jerk forcefully. She noticed she was bleeding and would find out subsequently that she had been shot nine times at close range. "The force of the bullets pushed me out from under the table,” says Valeen, now 27. “I was in excruciating pain. It feels like fire running through your body. I was saying ‘Oh my God, oh my God’ and one of them [Klebold] asked me if I believed in God. I said yes. He asked why. I said 'My parents brought me up that way’.”

Then she held her breath and closed her eyes, hoping he would leave her to die. The gunman walked away. “I didn’t see his face,” Valeen says. “But their voices… it was like they were happy. To them it was like playing a game.” It was only afterwards, when she nudged her friend so they could make their escape, that she realised Lauren was dead. The ninth bullet had sliced through Valeen’s shoulder and killed her.“

- The Guardian, Ten years on and Columbine still feels the pain. 

Valeen Schnurr was the one who was asked if she believed in God, although the rumor has been circulating around Cassie Bernall, who was not asked anything before she was shot.

It still amazes me how some of the Columbine victims survived their wounds. Just to name a few: Patrick Ireland was shot twice in the head and still has a bullet lodged in his brain. Nicole Nowlen was under the table with John Tomlin and was hit with nine pieces of buckshot in her abdomen with five pieces still lodged in her stomach. Mark Kintgen was hit in the left side of the neck and head. Mark Taylor was shot five times in the back and two in the chest by Eric, and two bullets just barely missed his aorta. Valeen Schnurr suffered nine gunshot wounds to her arm, chest and abdomen. Lance Kirklin was shot point blank in the face by Dylan among other wounds to the foot, leg, and chest.

Does anyone else get annoyed by the song 'Cassie' by Flyleaf?

I mean, with the historical inaccuracies based on the day of the massacre and the blatant exploitation of people killed in Columbine for a religious agenda. It bothers me a hell of a lot. So much that when I think about it, my whole body tenses up with anger. Shame on people who placed the blame on music, movies, and other things of the sort. Shame on people who exploited these innocent people, their families, and a horrible situation to gain publicity for their television show. Or their new upcoming album. Or whatever other dumb fucking reason. 

Why else does this bother me?

Firstly because Cassie Bernall (the ‘Cassie’ that the song is mentioning) was never asked “Do you believe in God?” before she was shot and killed. If I recall correctly, Eric said “Peek-a-boo” before he killed Cassie. Now, according to police reports/witness accounts, Valeen Schnurr was asked “Do you believe in God?”, her response was initially “No” and then changed to “Yes”, and then her life was spared.

As for the speculation that her life was spared because of either response she gave, I’m going to have to take a highly educated guess and say no. Given the motives behind their actions that day and the apparent lack of regard for religion they both had, it’s incredibly unlikely that the aforementioned question/response had anything to do with the outcome of that situation.

I’m basically explaining this situation because the end result of Flyleaf writing a song about one of the Columbine victims without doing proper research is this: a historically inaccurate and generally ridiculous song about religion that gained interest by exploiting a horrible situation and all of the people involved. 

Fucking stupid.

Cassie // Flyleaf

This song is based off of the Columbine school massacre. Thirteen were killed and several more were injured. Cassie Bernall, who was 17 and in the library when the shooting took place, was asked by one of the two gunmen if she believed in God. When she answered yes, she was shot in the face and killed immediately. This originates from claims by the students/teachers who were also in the library. Yet some believe this exchange did not happen between Cassie and the gunman, as another student, Valeen Schnurr (who survived), was also asked the same question and was sitting next to Cassie. The students/teachers admitted they could have misheard and thought the gunman asked Cassie not Valeen.