With the growing popularity of mobile phones, many people were able to place calls from inside the school during the shootings. Others used hall pay phones and office phones to call 911, family, and friends. In the neighborhood surrounding the school, people who lived nearby called the police to alert them to the tragedy unfolding.
Call after call flooded the emergency lines. The most chilling of the lot: A call made by an injured substitute teacher calling from the library just before the shooters entered and started killing people. The following is taken directly from the FBI Report
, which was marked by the FBI as Classified material on 07-16-99. It was Declassified on 01-15-02, with the redacted Columbine Documents released to the public in 2006. Misspellings are as they appear in the original report.
F.B.I. report excerpt about the Library 911 call:
"On April 20, 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold shot and
killed twelve students and one teacher at Columbine High School Littleton,
Colorado. During the incident, teacher Patty Nielson placed a call to
911 Emergency. Neilson was in the library when she placed the call. The
911 operator answered the call stating "911" at 11:27:47 a.m. The phone
call lasted 26 minutes. During the call, noises including
gunshots, explosions, screaming, and yelling can be heard. The initial backround
noises heard come from the hallway just outside of the library. Four minutes
and ten seconds into the call, Harris and Klebold entered the Library
and begin shooting. They left the Library eleven minutes and forty-five
minutes into the call. The remaining gunshots and explosions heard on
the tape occur in the Cafeteria, Science classroom area or the hallways
of the school."
The audio clip from the library 911 call cuts off right after the shooters enter the library. If you listen closely you can hear their voices in the background, toward the end of the clip. Refer to the transcript to see what they are saying as it's difficult to understand on the recording.
- At the time of this posting, the audio clip from Patti's phone call hosted here is the longest clip publicly available. While a longer copy does exist, it has never been released to the public and likely won't be due to the fact that people were being killed while the dispatcher was still recording the call.
Below are linked several files having to do with Patti's 911 call as well as other calls placed by individuals who were inside Columbine High School during the shootings. The content is disturbing so please look and listen with caution.
Columbine High library 911 phone call from Patricia "Patti" Nielson
+ Audio File: Patti Nielson's 911 call from the library
Other 911 calls from in and around Columbine High School
+ Transcript of a student calling from Columbine to report a female injured in the parking lot
This call was made from the library right before Dylan and Eric entered it for the first time. The call lasted about 20 minutes though Patti was only on the phone for about 4 minutes of it. The rest of the recording is the sound of the shooters destroying the library and killing people. This wav clip captures only the first 37 seconds of the call.
+ Audio/Video File: Patti Nielson's 911 call from the library - "full" version
40.1 mb - right-click to save to your desktop
This file starts at the beginning of Patti's call and goes for over 4 minutes, ending when the shooters enter the library. Someone subtitled it so you can read what's being said when it gets hard to understand due to the sound gunfire and smoke alarms going off. Unfortunately not all of the subtitling is accurate: If you want to read what was really said, refer to the transcripts linked below.
+ Transcript of Patti Nielson's 911 call from the library
Documents the call the injured teacher made up to the point when the shooters entered the library. Hearing what the teens were shouting and having already been shot at once, Patti left the phone laying on the floor and crawled off to find a better hiding place where she stayed for several hours.
+ Minute-by-minute FBI transcript
Picks up where the last transcript leaves off. This is the portion of the call that has not been released to the public, in audio format. Time-stamped and denotes which victim was shot when. Ends when the shooters leave the library.
+ Extended 911 clip
An audio clip that surfaced in 2013. Includes more transcript. You can find easier-to-read versions below.
+ Extended transcript page 1
Clearer text from above clip.
* Transcripts provided by Associated Press
+ Audio File: 911 calls and police dispatch communications (1)
(911_1.mpa) This recording begins with the diversionary explosion in a field on Wadsworth at 11:19 AM and continues well past the shootings in the library. About 50 MB big.
+ Audio File: 911 calls and police dispatch communications (2)
(911_2.mpa) This file is about 51 MB and is similar to the above, only broken up with police dispatch jargon and chatter. Gives a good idea of the chaos of the day on all ends.
+ Transcript of a 6-minute dispatch tape JeffCo released to the media
+ Audio File: a 911 call from inside the school, with fire alarm in background (placed at approximately 11:31 AM).
(911_alarm.mpa) The fire alarm is so loud you can barely hear anything else. The alarm was triggered by the smoke in the halls from the gunfire and explosives the shooters threw. The noise went on for hours, adding more trauma to the people who were trapped in the school as they couldn't hear much else and didn't know where the shooters were.
+ Audio File: 911 dispatch and calls starting at 11:33 am
(Phone_3.mpa) More 911 calls from people in and around the school and dispatch response.
+ Audio File: 911 calls from students and neighbors
(911_Calls2.mpa) More 911 calls made by students and neighbors after the killers entered the school.
+ Audio File: More 911 calls from students and neighbors
(911_colorado_new.rm) Even more 911 calls made by students and neighbors.
+ Audio File: Student Matthew Depew's 911 call from the kitchen
A student at Columbine who is also the son of one of the deputies calls 911 from his hiding place in the kitchen.
* Transcripts provided by Associated Press and DISPATCH monthly