Inching Toward Columbine

We're approaching the tenth anniversary of the Columbine massacre on April 20, and numerous articles about it have already appeared in the mainstream media. Almost all of them avoid discussing the role of the police.  

SFGate, April 30, 1999...

"Police involved in the investigation are most sensitive to criticism that they did not do enough in the first half hour of the shooting rampage to stem the carnage and confront the gunmen.

 Critics have included a fellow police officer, Westminster officer Randy Patrick, who three days after the shootings described the SWAT response as ``pathetic.''

Westminster police officials placed Patrick on nondisciplinary leave and ordered him to undergo a ``fitness for duty'' evaluation, a decision that was later rescinded."


Jefferson County Sheriff's Deputy Neil Gardner was already on duty at Columbine High School when the massacre began.

"As Gardner stepped out of his patrol car, Eric Harris turned his attention from shooting into the west doors of the high school to the student parking lot and to the deputy. Gardner, particularly visible in the bright yellow shirt of the community resource officer uniform, was the target of Harris' bullets.

 After the exchange of gunfire, Harris ran back into the building. Gardner was able to get on the police radio and called for assistance from other Sheriff's units. "Shots in the building. I need someone in the south lot with me."

Gardner could also hear gunshots coming from inside the building but he did not know who else was shooting, how many were in the school or where."

This was 11:24 AM, only five minutes after shooting was first reported at the school. At 11:30 Gardner was still outside the school. None of Harris' shots had hit Gardner, or even his patrol car.

Following the CNN timeline...

"By 11:30, within four minutes of Gardner's reports of shots being fired in the building and the need for additional units, six Jefferson County deputies, including Gardner, were on scene."

The deputies set up a "perimeter" outside the school, while shooting and explosions continued inside.

"By day's end, nearly 1000 law enforcement officers and emergency medical personnel were on scene."

Here, "on the scene" means "outside the school."

1000 policemen outside the school. 1000 students inside the school, with the killers.

Between 11:29 and 11:37, 10 people were killed in the library.

"Two library employees remain hidden in the television studio. One teacher hides in the periodicals room. Patti Nielson, originally hiding under the front counter, drops the phone. She ultimately crawls into the library's break room to hide in a cupboard. All four women remain in the library until they are evacuated by SWAT around 3:30 p.m."

The Swat team arrived in the library at 3:30 PM, more than four hours after the shooting began.

And Officer Randy Patrick was suspended for calling the SWAT response "pathetic!"

At 12:02 PM... "SWAT commands use of a Littleton fire truck to provide cover as the first Jefferson County, Littleton and Denver SWAT officers approach the school. Deputy Del Kleinschmidt, a Jefferson County K-9 team member assigned to SWAT, volunteers to drive the truck."

By this time there are hundreds of police officers outside the school, and some of them are trying to figure out who will drive a fire-truck.

12:06... "The first SWAT team, on foot behind a Littleton fire truck, arrives at the east main entrance to the school."

12:08... Harris and Klebold kill themselves. There are still no police inside the school.

12:31... "Lt. Manwaring reports that his SWAT team is on the north side of the school with the fire truck, working its way toward the west side."

Outside the school! With the firetruck!

12:34... "The first objective of Manwaring's team is to rescue two students lying in front of the west doors. Using the fire truck as a shield, the team of Jefferson County and Denver SWAT officers inch the truck as close to the west doors as possible."

The shooters are dead. 13 other people are dead with them.

The SWAT team is inching toward the door, behind a fire-truck.

About 90 minutes after the shooting began at Columbine High School, a sign appeared in a second-floor window...

"1 bleeding to death."

This was Dave Sanders, a longtime coach and teacher at Columbine High School, who had put himself in the line of fire while shepherding at least 100 students to safety.

"A Lakewood SWAT team sergeant (had) organized a patrol to enter the school about 90 minutes after the shooting began, but was instead ordered by Jefferson County sheriff's officials to search for Eric Harris' and Dylan Klebold's cars in the parking lot.

During that search, one of Sgt. George Hinkle's SWAT members spotted the sign in the school's second-floor window that read...

 "1 bleeding to death"

...written by another teacher trying to get help for Sanders.

That SWAT officer, Donn Kraemer, asked if he could answer that call for help.

Hinkle said no."

Dave Sanders died at Columbine High School, April 20, 1999.

< Systemic Corruption in the Courts and Congress | Our Consumer Plutocracy >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort: