On Tuesday, April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold set out to kill as many people as they could at Columbine High School. They killed 12 students and one teacher before their own lives ended shortly after. They wounded 21 others. Most of their bombs failed to ignite, causing less damage than they had originally hoped.
Diversionary Bomb & Arrival
A diversionary bomb was set on the 8000 block of Wadsworth Blvd between Ken Caryl and Chatfield. It partially detonated at 11:15 a.m. The purpose of this bomb was to drive emergency personnel away from the school where massive casualties were about to take place starting just two minutes later when two large propane tanks were to explode in the cafeteria. Eric and Dylan were armed with two sawed off shotguns, a 9mm Carbine (rifle), an Intratec DC-9 semi-automatic pistol, four knives, and nearly 100 explosive devices.
While Dylan was waiting in the Southwest Senior parking lot, Eric was in the South Junior parking lot. They were waiting for their bombs to ignite, as Brooks Brown came to talk to Eric. Brooks was a childhood friend of Dylan’s, but an enemy of Eric’s. Eric had actually fantasized about killing Brooks and his family the morning before the shootings. Some conversation took place between Brooks and Eric, and according to Brooks, Eric told him to “go home.” So he did. As he walked down the street he heard gunshots.
They placed two 20 pound propane (LPG) tanks in the cafeteria that were set up for a BLEVE. They had gas cans attached to timers that were set for 11:17a.m. A BLEVE is a boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion. Basically what this means is that the gas cans were supposed to ignite, and a fire was supposed to burn next to the tanks to heat it up until it failed. The fires and subsequent explosions were supposed to kill/injure students and then drive surviving students out into the parking lot so that Eric and Dylan could shoot at them as they ran away.
The First Shot
Since their bombs did not ignite, they walked up the west stairs and started shooting from the top.
Note: this is the remodeled staircase with the new library at the top
Injuries and Deaths
The first shots fired from the top of the stairs hit Richard Castaldo and Rachel Scott, who were eating lunch on the grass below. Daniel Rohrbough, Lance Kirklin and Sean Graves were hit next as they were on their way to Clement Park. Michael Johnson and Mark Taylor were the next to go down.
As Lance Kirklin lay in the doorway of the Cafeteria, he mumbed to someone standing over him, “help me.” The person standing over him replied, “sure, I’ll help you.” It was Dylan Klebold standing over him. He then shot Lance in the side of the face. Ann Marie Hocchalter was then shot as she ran across the grass.
At that point, teacher Patti Nielson and student Brian Anderson were on their way out of the school as Eric fired into the set of double doors they had almost exited. Brian was caught between the two doors as the shots were fired and Patti was just inside. Eric and Dylan made their way upstairs through the cafeteria and Stephanie Munson was then shot in the hallway.
They only killed two students outside, but wounded many more.
They made their way through the cafeteria to the upstairs area and Eric pointed his gun at his friend’s brother. He chose not to shoot him, and shot teacher Dave Sanders instead. He was shot in the hallway, but later died in a science room. After Eric shot Dave, they headed to the library where they killed the rest of their victims. Contrary to popular belief, it was Dylan who started talking when they entered the library. Dylan did most of the talking inside the library.
In the library, Evan Todd was first injured by flying wood from Eric shooting down the length of a table. Kyle Velasquez was then shot and killed by Dylan. Patrick Ireland, Makai Hall and Daniel Steepleton were injured next. Steven Curnow and Kacey Ruegsegger were hit with the next shots– Steven was fatally wounded. Eric then shot and killed Cassie Bernall as she sat hiding under a table. While Craig Scott huddled under a table close by with his friends Matt Kechter and Isaiah Shoels, they were both killed while Craig escaped injury.
Mark Kintgen, Valeen Schnurr and Lisa Kreutz were all shot next, followed by Lauren Townsend who was fatally wounded.
John Tomlin was shot as he held Nicole Nowlen’s hand in comfort. He tried to crawl out from underneath the table and was fatally shot. Nicole Survived.
The next to be hit were Kelly Fleming and Lisa Kreutz, again. Jeanna Park was hit and Lauren was hit again as well, this time post-mortem.
Daniel Mauser was hiding beneath a table and probably would have survived if he hadn’t drawn attention to himself by throwing a chair at Eric. Eric shot and killed him immediately. The next shots hit Jennifer Doyle, Austin Eubanks and Corey Depooter. Corey was fatally wounded.
Their Final Attempt
After Eric and Dylan killed the rest of their victims, they went back down to the cafeteria in an attempt to detonate their propane bombs in the kitchen area. First they threw pipe bombs at them from the top of the stairs, then Eric shot at them from the bottom of the stairs, and finally they threw pipe bombs at them from ground level. None of their attempts worked completely, and even though a partial fire was achieved the sprinkler system was activated within a minute of this partial success. This is seen on the cafeteria surveillance tapes.
Who Killed Whom?
Carrying an Intratec DC9M Semiautomatic Pistol and a Stevens Double Barrel Shotgun, Dylan Klebold alone killed a confirmed two people- Kyle and Matt.
Carrying a Hi-Point 995 Carbine Semiautomatic Rifle and a Savage-Springfield Pump-Action Shotgun, Eric Harris alone killed a confirmed seven people- Cassie, Daniel M., Dave, Isaiah, Kelly, Rachel and Steven.
Eric and Dylan both inflicted fatal and non-fatal wounds on an additional four people- Corey, Daniel R., John and Lauren. While they both inflicted wounds on these four people, Eric fired the fatal shots at Corey and Daniel R. All wounds inflicted on Lauren by both Eric and Dylan were fatal. The exact wounds inflicted on John cannot be confirmed by the autopsy summary, and all other reports give conflicting information so a determination at this time cannot be made. It is believed, however, that John was grazed in the chest by Eric’s shotgun and then Dylan shot him in the head three times. The injuries detailed in the autopsy summary concern multiple injuries to the head and one to the cervical spine. There is not enough information to form a factual conclusion regarding who fired the fatal shot(s).
Fifteen people died on April 20, 1999. Two outside, one in a science room, and ten in the library. Twenty-five people were taken to the hospitals but only twenty-one of those who were taken sustained injuries as a result of Eric and Dylan. One student, Adam kyler, was hit in the stomach by a chair thrown by another student while trying to escape from the cafeteria. Charles Simmons was cut by a piece of broken glass, Nick Foss injured himself when he fell through the ceiling as he tried to escape, and teacher Joyce Jankowski was treated for anxiety.
Those injured directly by Eric and Dylan:
Brian Anderson, Richard Castaldo, Jennifer Doyle, Stephen Austin Eubanks, Sean Graves, Makai Hall, Anne Marie Hochhalter, Patrick Ireland, Michael Johnson, Mark Kintgen, Lisa Kreutz, Lance Kirklin, Stephanie Munson, Patricia Nielson, Nicole Nowlen, Jeanna Park, Kasey Ruegsegger, Valeen Schnurr, Daniel Steepleton, Evan Todd and Mark Taylor.
While it is common belief that up to twenty-five people were injured by Eric and Dylan, it was really only twenty-one.
Failure of Plans
Eric and Dylan planned for their bombs to detonate in the cafeteria at 11:17 a.m., and they would then shoot at any survivors that ran from the building. This plan failed when the bombs did not detonate.
Eric and Dylan started shooting outside, Eric with his 9mm Rifle and Dylan with his 12 Gauge Double Barrel Shotgun. They made their way through the cafeteria and to the library where they killed ten of their victims. Their own lives ended in the library a short while later.