Columbine gunmen hoped for immortality, felt sorry for their parents

Monday, December 13th 1999, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DENVER (AP) -- The Columbine High School gunmen came close to apologizing to their parents for their planned assault on the school, according to a published report. "They're going to be put through hell once we do this," Eric Harris, 18, said in home videos made before the April 20 massacre that were reviewed by Time magazine. Later, addressing his parents directly, Harris said, "There's nothing you guys could do about this."

In the issue to hit newsstands today, Time says authorities allowed a reporter access to five videos recorded in the weeks before the attack, in which the two seniors killed 12 students and a teacher before committing suicide. About 23 others were wounded. Dylan Klebold, 17, told his mother and father they were "great parents" and that he appreciated their teaching him "self-awareness, self-reliance." But he said he was sorry "that I have so much rage."

In the videos, Harris and Klebold said they hoped to kill hundreds in a bloodbath that would have Hollywood directors fighting to put their story on film, Time reports. "I hope we kill 250 of you," Klebold said on one tape. He said the moment of the attack would be the most "nerve-wracking of my life, after the bombs are set and we're waiting to charge through the school. Seconds will be like hours. I can't wait."

Both teen-agers said they had been insulted and put-upon by others. Harris, who moved around with his military family, said he always had to start "at the bottom of the ladder," and Klebold said he felt he had been hated by many peers since he was in daycare. Authorities have known since shortly after the massacre that Harris and Klebold were plotting a gun and bomb attack they believed would leave many more than 15 people dead.

The videos offer a glimpse into their motives and their thoughts about the attack. Those thoughts, in Harris' case, ranged from a Shakespeare quote-- "Good wombs hath borne bad sons" -- to an apparent reference to a video game: "It's going to be like (expletive) Doom. Tick, tick,tick, tick ... Haa!"
While the videos reinforce the idea that Harris and Klebold were motivated in part by a desire for what they saw as revenge, they also fill in details of the picture of the suicidal plot as a perceived route to immortality. "Directors will be fighting over this story," Time quotes Klebold as saying in one video. He and Harris then discussed which director could be trusted with the script, mentioning Steven Spielberg and Quentin Tarantino, the report says.

The two also talked about how easy it was to plot their attack without anybody noticing, Time reports, with Klebold recalling that his mother once saw a gun handle sticking out of his gym bag and assumed it was his BB gun. Harris said they "came close" to being caught one day when a gun shop clerk called his house and told his father, who answered the phone, "'Hey, your clips are in."' According to Time, he said his father told the clerk he had not ordered any clips and did not ask whether it was a wrong number.

After the shootings, there was much public debate about whether the gunmen's parents, Wayne and Katherine Harris and Thomas and Susan Klebold, should be held responsible for their sons' actions. Jefferson County District Attorney Dave Thomas told Time he has not ruled out charges against the parents. But he said he lacks sufficient evidence at this point and is not sure charging the parents would do any good. "Could I really do anything to punish them any more?" Thomas asked.

The killers made their final tape on the morning of the massacre, Time reports. "It's a half-hour before Judgment Day," Klebold said into the camera. "I didn't like life very much. Just know I'm going to a better place than here." Harris added, "I know my mom and dad will be in shock and disbelief. I can't help it." Klebold interrupted, saying, "It's what we had to do," and then they listed some favorite CDs and belongings they wanted to leave to friends. Then Klebold snapped his fingers, and Harris put in the last words. "That's it," he said. "Sorry. Goodbye."