The bloody sneakers of a student injured in the shooting at the Columbine high school. The sneakers lie outside the emergency room where the student was taken.

"We saw one kid lying on the stairs, and one was on the ground.
They were just dead, purple, their eyes still open."

- Nick Foss, Senior

April 20, 2004

The writing of the following piece was a long, arduous process. What you are about read was culled from newspapers, magazines, books, documentaries, the Internet, more than twenty thousand pages of evidence, task force reports, police reports, three hundred pages of FBI files, and any other source I could obtain information from. It took months to research and write. It is a story that will stay with me forever.

Columbine is one of very few cases I've studied that has caused me to startle awake from nightmares. It is one of very few cases that has brought me to tears. When writing about violent crime, one is wise to keep a certain distance from the cases they study. I allowed Columbine to get under my skin. I had to. I could not properly tell the story if I did not. I imagined what it would be like to run through the halls of your school being chased by a boy with a gun, bullets blowing chunks off the cinderblock walls around you. I imagined what it would be like to have to step over the bodies of classmates to escape. I imagined what it would be like to watch the news and realize, as Dylan Klebold's parents did, that it was your son, the son you had raised for seventeen years, who was partly responsible for so much death. I do not claim to understand or to be able to feel the stark horror that the killing at Columbine high school caused. No one knows what really happened, how it really felt, except for those that were there on April 20th, 1999.

As I mentioned in an above paragraph, the research and writing of this piece took months. However, I don't believe I will ever truly be able to call this piece 'finished'. I am constantly stumbling across new items of information, new photographs, new video, new audio. The story of the Columbine high school shooting did not begin and end with the pull of a trigger. It began years before, as soon as the seeds of violence were planted in two boys' brains.

Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold exacted revenge on a school that they believed had shunned them. Columbine did not happen because of books, movies, music, or video games. Columbine happened because two children shared a hatred and misery so overwhelming it drove them to murder. There are many websites that tout Harris as Klebold as monsters, and there are many that tout them as martyrs. I have attempted to portray them as neither. My goal in writing this was to present the facts of the case and the history behind it. All we really know for certain is that on the morning of April twentieth, 1999, fifteen people died. All we can really ask is, "Why?"