The mother of a student wounded in the
Columbine High School massacre walked into a suburban pawn shop Friday, asked to see a handgun, loaded it and killed herself with a
shot to the head.
Carla June Hochhalter's suicide occurred about six months after her 17-year-old daughter, Anne Marie, was critically wounded in the April 20 tragedy and left partially paralyzed.
It was not immediately known what other factors might have contributed to Ms. Hochhalter's suicide. She left a note, but
authorities did not reveal the contents.
Ms. Hochhalter, 48, entered the Alpha Pawn Shop in nearby Englewood alone about 10 a.m. Friday and asked to see a .38-caliber
When a clerk turned around to fill out paperwork, Ms. Hochhalter loaded the weapon with her own ammunition, then fired one round that hit the wall and a second round into her head, Englewood
police spokeswoman Leticia Castillo said.
"They say some people go through the worst grieving from four to six months. I think you really start noticing the person's missing (then)," said Linda Mauser, whose son, Daniel, died at Columbine.
Harriet Hall, a psychologist in charge of a counseling program for Columbine victims, said, "We've heard that the six-month
anniversary is hard. Now we know it's true."
Connie Michalik, whose son was also paralyzed by the shooting, said all the mothers who spent time with their children in the hospital were "depressed and devastated," but that she thought Ms. Hochhalter had worked through the grief.
Last week, Anne Marie Hochhalter moved her legs for the first time.
"I thought she was better, especially when Anne Marie moved her legs ... finally, happier times," she said.
The suicide was the latest shock for students and families in the Littleton area.
Jefferson County School District officials
planned to have grief counselors available this weekend to help deal with any trauma.
A student was arrested this week for allegedly threatening "to finish the job" begun by two student gunmen at Columbine.
In addition, CBS-TV was criticized by some in the community for broadcasting a snippet of the security camera videotape that was
taken in the school cafeteria as the massacre unfolded.
"I'm absolutely horrified," said Steve Cohn, parent of a 15-year-old Columbine student who survived the assault. "We've been under a lot of stress recently but what do you do?"
Carrying several weapons and setting off homemade bombs, Eric Harris, 18, and 17-year-old Dylan Klebold killed 12 students and a
teacher and wounded about 26 others before they took their own lives.
Miss Hochhalter suffered injuries to her spinal cord, back and chest when the gunmen fired at her in the parking lot. She moved
her legs for the first time last week.
Now a senior, she is taking a physics class at Columbine while a tutor teaches the rest of her courses at home.