Welcome to this free research tool I compiled writing Columbine. (The sections are summarized below, here.) I spent ten years on the book — reporting from the first hour of the attack, then researching and writing. The sheer size of the Columbine evidence was overwhelming, so as I organized it for myself, I decided to make that work available to readers. (You may also be interested in more info at my Columbine Teacher's Guide or Columbine Student Guide, also free.)
Columbine research presents a unique challenge, because most of the initial reporting was wrong. That means much of what you will find online will be wrong. Journalists' worst mistakes concerned anything related to motive. We were so anxious to answer that burning question for you that we jumped to conclusions on tiny fragments of evidence in the first days, even hours. This site is intended as a guide — both to information, and to sorting out reliability of sources.
It took seven years and a Colorado Supreme Court battle for the most crucial evidence to be released (Eric and Dylan's journals). Those journals made a mockery of many of the conclusions we journalists made in the first day — and disproved the jock-revenge theories of high school kids like Brooks Brown. Those theories are now accepted as truth, despite overwhelming evidence later revealed to the contrary.
I culled through thousands of journals, videos, police files, pictures, drawings, interviews, counseling session notes, 911 calls, crime scene photos, autopsies, mental health books and scholarly journal articles (on psychopathy, depression, terrorism, etc.), official government reports and studies and various other evidence. I broke it into the sections below, which correspond to the menu up top. Before exploring the site, please read the Warning on Columbine Myths below. FYI: my bio. Parkland: Birth of a Movement.
The Columbine Guide
Introduction. This page.
Includes all writings by Eric Harris & Dylan Klebold. I have gathered the most revealing material Eric and Dylan left behind. First and foremost are their journals; then diagrams, sketches, Eric Harris' website, Dylan Klebold's creative writing story on "preps" (describing much of the attack two months in advance), and their 1998 yearbooks (they wrote about the Columbine attack in each others' yearbooks).
About a thousand pages of Eric and Dylan's pages were released. I chose the best, and broke it out into several pages. I have continued adding more over time.
The basics on Eric Harris & Dylan Klebold, including photos, the best published profiles, each of their autopsy reports, and information on their parents.
Everything about the Columbine attack, and the plans Eric and Dylan laid out for it. This includes the bombs (pictures and descriptions), the four guns, and other weaponry such as knives. I have several photos from the attack and the crime scene from many different angles. This includes schedules, budgets, Eric's sketches of their gear, etc.
A collections of resources and information on surviving: What to do when if you face a gunman ("Run, Hide, Fight"); how to decipher media coverage; a PTSD 101 primer; resources for trauma victims; the Columbine memorial; pictures from 10 years after the tragedy; Pulitizer-winning photos of Columbine; and a call to action on how the media must change our coverage of these tragedies. It includes an excerpt from Dr. Frank Ochberg's excellent "PTSD 101" article, with a link to the full piece.
This is the most important subject related to Columbine — the great unlearned lesson of the tragedy. We devoted a major section in the Instructor Guide to it, and adapted that into a section here.
This section includes pages for:
All official reports about Columbine and about school shooters.
Enumeration of all released evidence. These total over 30,000 pages, so I provide an overview, highlights, and commentary on which batches have what useful info. These include police reports, the killers' Diversion files, 911 tapes, videos made by the killers, and of course their journals and daytimers. It also includes search warrants, autopsies, field notes, photographs, results of a damning grand jury investigation.
Instructions on how to get your own copies of any of this evidence from Jeffco. (Mostly on DVD now.)
Videos, including Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold in the Columbine cafeteria, Patrick Ireland tumbling out the library window, and helicopter shots from April 20. Information about The Basement Tapes and links to transcribed passages from them are included.
Photos of Columbine High: then and now, and at different times since the tragedy.
Information on my book, Columbine.
Resources for schools and The Columbine Teacher's Guide. (Also useful for students for papers/projects).
Parkland: Birth of a Movement.
More resources coming at this Parkland book site, but I haven't figured out how best to use it yet.
I have occasional updates on my blog.
Please consider two warnings:
Myths: Most of what you "know" about Columbine is probably wrong. Within six months of Columbine, virtually all reporters on the case, including me, realized we had gotten the basics wrong. This was mostly due to a lot of assumptions, and jumping to conclusions based on fragmentary evidence. The result makes your Columbine research highly problematic. Most of your google searches will turn up the early coverage, filled with the myths, which even the reporters on the bylines you're reading no longer believe. And when you get later material, written by people who did not report directly, most of that is based on the bad early stuff. The myths are self-propagating.
The good news: lots of clean material is out there. It has been identified. You just need to know which is good, which is bogus, and which has bits of each. The Media Reporting section sorts much of that out for you. But you will be wise to set aside most of what you've read, and start with a clean slate.
Contradictions: In total, the journals, videos and other writing present a crisp portrait of each killer. But beware of quotes out of context. Eric and Dylan were teenagers. They rambled, contradicted themselves and changed their minds as the plan developed. I link to lots of evidence on this site, and for many items, I provide some analysis, so you can see how it fits into the larger picture.
tHE Columbine gUIDE
Video of The Basement Tapes. Long, representative passages have been transcribed and published, and I provide quite a bit of that. But the videos have not been released, and the Jeffco sheriff announced that all known copies have been destroyed. You "found" clips from them on the web, those are fakes.
Courtroom testimony by Eric and Dylan's parents. As a final settlement with five holdout families, Wayne & Kathy Harris, and Tom & Sue Klebold answered questions in a deposition that lasted several days. It was a closed session, and the plaintiffs gained entry by agreeing to a gag order. In April 2007, a federal judge ruled that the transcripts would be sealed for another 20 years. Only the small audience in that room knows what the parents divulged. There have been no leaks. I'll post them in 2027.
Crime-scene photos of Eric and Dylan's bodies. They are graphic and horrific. Two were leaked, which you can easily google, but I won't post them. The first two on most google searches are legit.
The "Nixon" micro-cassette tape that Eric Harris recorded the night before the massacre. It has not been released. A few lines from it were transcribed, and appear in my book. Lead Investigator Kate Battan told me there is nothing else significant on it. She has generally been straight with me.
Just about everything else that's been released is available, and I'll try to point you to it here.
Note: Over the years, I have called this site Columbine Online, Columbine Almanac and Columbine Navigator. If you're looking for one of those, you're here. This is the newest version, 2018.
HarperCollins has announced they will publish my next book, Parkland: Birth of a Movement. February 12, 2019.