25 years after the attack, survivors are still haunted by it

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This week marks 25 years since two seniors at the Colorado high school committed one of the most infamous school shootings in American history, killing 12 students and a teacher.
415 killed in school shootings since Columbine At the time, the massacre in the suburban Denver suburb of Littleton was the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.
Two were killed and 25 were injured in the 1998 Thurston High School shooting in Springfield, Oregon.
The Columbine shooting wasn’t eclipsed until nearly eight years later when on April 16, 2007, a 23-year-old student fatally shot 32 people at Virginia Tech — the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.
In 1999, Columbine was among six school shootings in the United States, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
“I spent the rest of the day glued to the television at home alone, watching things unfold at my school,” Hanley said.
In the two-and-a-half decades since the attack, Hanley said she has tried therapy, yoga, acupuncture and massage to help get over her trauma.
He said the teacher who died in the Columbine attack, Dave Sanders, likely saved his life.


The library, where Craig Scott was preparing for a biology test on April 20, 1999, served as the focal point of the Columbine High School mass shooting. At sixteen, Scott claimed that his life had completely changed as soon as he had sat down next to his friend Matt Kechter.

This week marks 25 years since one of the most notorious school shootings in American history—which claimed the lives of 12 students and a teacher—was carried out by two seniors at a Colorado high school. Thirteen people were injured in the chaos that followed the shooting, and twenty-one more people sustained gunshot wounds.

When the two gunmen were only inches away, Scott, now 41, was hiding under a desk in the library and was “paralyzed with fear.” He told ABC News that he could still clearly remember the horror and the carnage he saw that day.

“Some were pleading for their lives. And they seemed to be enjoying themselves while doing it, treating it like a game, and were completely cut off from the lives they were robbing, according to Scott.

“They approached where I was,” said Scott. “Isaiah (Shoels), my friend, was spotted by them. Among the very few African American students at my school was Isaiah. One of them went over to the other and began calling Isaiah derogatory names. They made an attempt to pull him out from beneath the table. They also shot and killed my friend Matt, as well as Isaiah. They abandoned me beneath that. I believed that I would pass away. “.”.

By some miracle, Scott claimed, he managed to escape unharmed, drenched in the blood of a fellow student he had assisted in getting away. Later, he discovered that his own sister, 17-year-old Rachel Joy Scott, had been the first person killed in the rampage.

The following individuals were also slain: Dave Sanders, 47; Cassie Bernall, 17, Corey DePooter, 17, Corey Rohrbough, 15, Kyle Velasquez, 16, Steven Curnow, 14, John Tomlin, 17, Kelly Fleming, 16, Daniel Mauser, 15, Corey DePooter, 17, and 16-year-old Kechter.

That day, the gunmen committed suicide in the library, according to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office.

In school shootings since Columbine, 415 people have died.

The massacre in Littleton, a Denver suburb, was the deadliest school shooting in American history at the time. s. the past. Only a handful of noteworthy ones had preceded it. A shooting at Grover Cleveland Elementary School in San Diego in 1979 resulted in two fatalities and nine injuries, while a similar incident at another Cleveland Elementary School in Stockton, California, in 1989 claimed five lives and injured thirty-two. In the 1998 Springfield, Oregon, shooting at Thurston High School, two people were killed and twenty-five injured.

The only additional tandem shooters at US schools. s. In 1998 at Westside Middle School in Jonesboro, Arkansas, two boys, ages 13 and 11, killed four classmates and a teacher. When they turned 21, the two, who had been tried and found guilty as minors, were allowed to leave prison.

The deadliest school shooting in U.S. history occurred on April 16, 2007, at Virginia Tech, where a 23-year-old student fatally shot 32 people. This event eclipsed the Columbine shooting almost eight years later. S. past events. The Virginia Tech shooter took his own life, just like the Columbine shooters did.

As of April 2, 2024, there had been 415 school shooting deaths and 907 injuries since the Columbine massacre, according to an ABC News analysis of the Gun Violence Archive, a website that keeps track of all shooting incidents in the country. At least four people were injured or killed in a mass shooting, according to the Gun Violence Archive, which accounts for fifty-five of the attacks.

According to the Gun Violence Archive, there were six school shootings in the US in 1999, including one at Columbine. There have already been 47 shootings at U.S. locations in 2024 alone. s. a school on January 2 and another on April 2. 4, 2024, at Iowa’s Perry High School, which resulted in one student’s death and seven injuries, including the principal.

“I firmly think that the 24/7 news cycle started at that time. The reason that attack has left a lasting impression on the country is because “it was brought into the living rooms,” according to Frank DeAngelis, the principal of Columbine High School at the time of the massacre.

And the idea that we’re still talking about Columbine in relation to the possibility of another school shooting kind of bothers me. The 69-year-old DeAngelis, who retired in 2014 after 35 years as a teacher and school administrator, told ABC News that they allude to “another Columbine attack.”.

Although every new school shooting instantly reminds DeAngelis of the Columbine massacre, he claimed that a significant improvement in training and readiness has prevented an uncountable number of lives from being lost since the mass shooting.

“In 1999, dot. “We conducted fire drills exclusively at Columbine,” DeAngelis stated.

Over 170,000 school resource officers, SWAT team members, other law enforcement officers, paramedics, and even Navy SEALs have received active-shooter training from the Frank DeAngelis Center for Community Safety in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, which bears the retired principal’s name.

“During that period, the police were required to wait for the SWAT team to arrive at a location known as’secure the perimeter,'” according to DeAngelis. Consequently, we are currently preparing lone cops for entry. Furthermore, it truly is a center that gets ready to avert these incidents. “.

DeAngelis went on, “We are saving lives by doing some things differently. However, since there are still offenders out there plotting these crimes, we cannot give up hope. And we are unable to accept it as the norm. “.

“I would see her one last time.”.

Craig Scott claimed that he and his sister Rachel arrived at school late the day of the attack because “I had to have my hair just perfect.”. “.

Scott remarked, “We got into this fight.”. “Even though I was causing us to be late, she actually pulled up and dropped me off at the front of the school before going to the park. After getting out, I walked into the school and slammed the car door shut on her. I was unaware that it would be my final encounter with her. ****.

He claimed that his sister had written an essay for a class titled “My Ethics, My Codes of Life” approximately one month prior to her death. He claimed to have made that his life’s motto.

He remarked, “She talked about forgiving and being merciful to people who had wronged her.”. She expressed her belief that when one person goes above and beyond to be compassionate, it will set off a domino effect that will amaze people with the reach of even a small act of kindness. “.”.

Investigators have determined that the two gunmen, Dylan Klebold, 17, and Eric Harris, 18, were recording videos in the basement of one of their homes at the same time that his sister was composing the essay. They discussed igniting a revolution and causing a domino effect. Following the attack, the killers’ video was made available to various media outlets and some of the victims’ families by Jefferson County officials. According to the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, the tapes were destroyed in 2011.

According to Scott, he has been telling his sister’s story across the nation for the last 25 years. He announced that he would be releasing an inspirational story-telling podcast called “Pain into Purpose” on Saturday.

In addition to forgiveness, Scott stated that his family and faith were the main contributors to his recovery. “I had fantasies for a few years about killing the gunmen. I hated them once,” Scott remarked. “I met people who had experienced far worse than I had, and they weren’t these irate, bitter people as I started to travel and tell my sister’s story. They were incredibly frank and open. And I once heard something very helpful that said forgiveness is like releasing a prisoner only to discover that the prisoner is you. “”.

He mentioned that following his sister’s passing, his family had been going through her personal items and journals. An outline of Rachel’s hands drawn when she was thirteen was discovered on the back of a chest of drawers.

She said, “These hands belong to Rachel Joy Scott and will one day touch the hearts of millions of people,” in the middle of one of the hands. Scott remarked, “She genuinely believed that she would make a difference, and she has. “I believe that as soon as I survived, I had a strong sense that God was calling me to something. It has helped me, and continues to help me, to believe that there was a profound reason why this occurred, whether or not other people share that belief. And I managed to look past the tragedy to its intended outcome. “.

“Sorrow lodges in our bodies.”.

According to Krista Hanley, a different survivor of Columbine, she was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and is still dealing with the trauma.

“The trauma is brought back every time there is a shooting. Trauma, in my opinion, stays embedded in our bodies. It affects us viscerally,” Hanley remarked.

Over the past 25 years, Hanley claimed to have also struggled with a great deal of survivor’s guilt.

“Even now that I’m living my life and have the ability to make choices like buying a house and doing all these things, I feel guilty because my peers’ lives were taken too soon and they never had those chances,” Hanley remarked. “And so, I believe, comes a tremendous amount of guilt with surviving. Once more, we are limited to living our lives. “.

She remembered that day of the attack, she was in the school cafeteria lunch line.

“I was definitely thinking about the prom because it was three days after the prom, and I still had my red painted fingernails from the prom,” Hanley remarked. “An individual darted across the room dot. we were unaware of the 1999 school shootings. They were screaming, “Get down!”. It was not the first thing that came to mind. I mistook it for a senior gag. That was a 1999 action that we took. “.”.

At one point, according to her, “the energy of that cafeteria shifted, and everyone bolted from the windows facing the parking lot and started heading up the stairs.”. “.

When Hanley and her friends turned a corner, she was still on the ground and explained that they had landed in a small hallway that she had never seen before.

“This door opened after we had been in this hallway for a short while. It seemed to me as though a magical door had opened. After one of the teachers unlocked the auditorium door, we entered,” the speaker stated.

She left the auditorium through a side door, taking other students with her, and headed to the second floor.

Hanley explained, “We had to climb over a chain link fence in the end, and after that, we strolled through this parking lot that’s in the park behind the school.”. “There was a person we knew who possessed a large cell phone. He was kindly allowing anyone who wished to call to do so. “.

Hanley claimed that she had called her mother, a teacher at a lockdown school close to Columbine. The phone then died, though. Eventually, she said, she walked to a restaurant about a mile away, and there, a parent offered to drive her home.

“I spent the rest of the day glued to the television at home alone, watching things unfold at my school,” Hanley said.

Hanley claimed that she has tried massage, acupuncture, yoga, counseling, and therapy in the 25 years since the attack in an effort to overcome her trauma.

She described it as “a turning point” when one of her acquaintances was among the twelve fatalities in the 2012 Aurora, Colorado, movie theater shooting. ****.

Beside my friends who had lost their best friend, I felt so powerless. And again, it’s just devastating to have survived and then be unable to act, speak, or handle this,” Hanley remarked.

We Are Safer Together is a self-defense organization that she co-founded, and she claimed that the experience inspired her to become an advocate.

Hanley stated, “It’s directly related, of course, to my experience as a mass shooting survivor and sort of the subsequent lack of safety that I’ve felt in my life and in the world.”. “I changed my life in the mid-2000s after taking a few self-defense classes. As if it significantly aided in my healing. Developing my sense of self-defense gave me a greater sense of security and empowerment in the world. “.”.

According to her, her organization specializes in adaptive self-defense for marginalized individuals, people with disabilities, and those “who may not feel like the self-defense world is actually serving them.”. She said that in addition to teaching physical self-defense, she also specializes in active shooter training, emergency preparedness, and emergency planning for organizations and businesses.

Hanley claimed that having “very little hope that things will change” is a major source of her motivation. “.

In the wake of Columbine, things ought to have changed. The final school shooting in American history ought to have occurred at Columbine. Furthermore, particularly in light of Newtown,” Hanley remarked, alluding to the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut that claimed the lives of 26 people, including 20 children. “That and the realization that we’re just letting this happen again really got to me. “.”.

“My biggest nightmare comes true”.

According to DeAngelis, he has experienced “a lot of survivor’s guilt,” but he attributes his ability to cope to years of therapy. He said that Dave Sanders, the teacher who was killed in the Columbine shooting, had probably saved his life.

As his secretary alerted him to the reports of gunfire and pipe bombs in the school, the former principal claimed he was in his office preparing to extend a full-time contract to a student-teacher.

DeAngelis remarked, “As I leave my office, my worst nightmare comes true because the gunman is approaching me and I remember it’s like he just stopped and the shotgun barrel looked about the size of a cannon.”. “I couldn’t stop wondering what it would be like to have a bullet pierce my body. “.

As 20 to 25 girls emerged from a locker room to head to physical education, according to DeAngelis, he ran toward the killer rather than backing away.

“I was confident that I could place the girls in a secure environment if I managed to get them inside the gymnasium,” he remarked.

Sanders was evacuating students up a staircase when DeAngelis dashed toward the assailant, diverting the gunman’s attention from where he was shooting into death.

DeAngelis said that he tried to open the gymnasium at that moment but discovered that it was locked.

“The gunman is getting ready to come around the corner, and we can hear the sounds of the shots getting louder,” DeAngelis stated. “On a keyring, I had about thirty to thirty-five keys. I fumbled in my suit pocket. We wouldn’t be talking right now if the first key I inserted into the door hadn’t opened. “.”.

“I simply point and say, ‘thank you,’ whenever I see the Dave Sanders Memorial sign on the highway,” he continued. “.

DeAngelis, a devoted Catholic, stated he thinks “God’s got a plan” is the only reason he survived the shooting. “.

He said that something that “really hit home for me” occurred a few years ago. He was at a Columbine High School softball team championship game when a woman walked up to him. He claimed that one of the girls he allowed into the gymnasium the day of the attack was the woman, who is now a mother.

“After turning me around, she says, ‘Mr. D, I’m not sure how to break the news to you. I just wanted to say thank you for finding the key, because that girl in right field is my daughter, and she wouldn’t be playing in this game if you hadn’t. ‘ And that hit pretty hard,” he said.

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