Columbine shooters | Dylan Klebold
Dylan Bennet Klebold
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6 feet 2.5 inches tall, 143 lbs.
17 year old son of Mr. Thomas Klebold (then 52) and Mrs. Susan (Yassenoff) Klebold (then 50), younger brother to Byron
(21 at the time).
Tom was a geophysicist, Sue worked with handicapped people. Both were from Columbus, Ohio and went to Ohio State University. Sue was from a prominent Jewish community there, granddaughter of the late philanthropist and construction magnate Leo Yassenoff, who built the local Jewish community center in Columbus that bears his name. Dylan was born in Lakewood, Colorado.
Dylan attended Normandy Elementary School in Littleton, Colorado, for first and second grade and then transferred to Governor's Ranch Elementary School where he was part of the CHIPS
(Challenging High Intellectual Potential Students) program for gifted and talented children. His parents told investigators he was somewhat sheltered at Governors Ranch Elementary and believed his transition to Ken Caryl Middle School was a little difficult for him because he was so quiet and shy. Transition from elementary school to middle school is difficult for many adolescents, so his parents were not overly concerned.
During his earlier school years he played T-ball, baseball, and soccer. He was in Cub Scouts with friend Brooks Brown
, a boy he had been friends with since the first grade. Dylan met Eric Harris
while attending Ken Caryl Middle School in the seventh or eighth grade. Brooks lived near the house Eric's parents had recently bought, and rode the same bus as Eric. The three boys were soon good friends. Not long after that, Eric introduced Dylan to his friend Nathan (Nate) Dykeman
, who also attended Ken Caryl, and the boys all became good friends
(offsite archived link). Dylan also met Chris Morris
around that time. The two would eventually become best of friends.
In 1995, all four boys moved up to Columbine as freshmen. At Columbine, Dylan was active in the school play productions as a light and sound coordinator. He was also involved in video productions and Columbine High School's Rebel News Network. He made a couple of videos with Nate for the Rebel News Network annoucements (on 8mm), and another in November 1998 to show Nate's father where he lived, went to school, etc (VHS recording).
Klebold was lauded for helping out during Rachel Scott's
performance of Watch the Lamb
. When the music messed up, Dylan provided a backup tape so the show could go on. He was a computer assistant at school and helped maintain the school computer server. He played Fantasy Baseball with Chad Laughlin on a regular basis. Other players said they heard him discussing the plays that would be happening the week of 4-20, giving them no indication that he wasn't planning to be around after that Tuesday.
Neighbors of the Klebolds described them as nice people: The picture-perfect family. Sherry Higgins, mother of a friend of Dylan and Eric's, says about the teens' 'Hitmen for Hire'
video that she was told that it was a spoof. It was about hitmen who killed bullies to avenge the weak at Columbine. A "bang-bang, Dick Tracy-type thing that they were trying to put together." In hindsight, she admitted it should have been a clue that all was not right in Dylan's world.
After the shooting, Dylan's parents initially maintained that they had no idea that their son was troubled. One early report says Sue was stunned by what her son did. In it, she said she never had a hint of what was going to happen. Dylan's older brother Byron also expressed surprise
(offsite link) at his younger brother's actions. The closest thing to a gun that the family owned was a BB gun to keep squirrels at bay. Friends of Dylan's said that while they saw Eric being picked on at school, they never saw it happening to Klebold. He was too tall, too lanky, too ignored by those who weren't his friends.
But something certainly was bothering him. Years later, Dylan's parents admitted in interviews that they had overlooked the fact that their son was as unhappy as he was. They failed to see clues that were, in retrospect, there all along.
Columbine's senior prom was held on 4-17-1999. Dylan went by limo along with 12 other friends to the dance. Nate Dykeman told reporters that nothing seemed unusual about that night, that everything went "perfect". Nate said that Dylan talked happily about a positive future
. He was going to attend college at the University of Arizona, where he would Major in computer science. He sounded to friends like that was what he really planned to do with his life. His parents had already paid for a dorm room. The whole family drove to Arizona on March 25, 1999 to pick out Dylan's room.
Dylan's prom date for the night was friend Robyn K. Anderson, whom he'd met some years before at a Christmas party. A senior at Columbine, she attended the event with him as his friend, not a love interest. Despite early media reports, Robyn and Dylan were not romantically involved. She had a crush on him, but he didn't return the interest. Robyn proudly boasted to another male friend shortly before the prom: "I convinced my friend Dylan, who hates dances, jocks and has never had a date let alone a girlfriend to go with me! I am either really cute or just really persuasive!"
It was Robyn Anderson who helped purchase
(offsite link) the two shotguns and the rifle that were used in the assault. She acted as a middleman to purchase the guns for them since Dylan and Eric were not 18 at the time (the legal age to purchase a firearm in Colorado) and Robyn was. Dylan gloated on one of the Basement Tapes
that the seller knew that Dylan was the one buying the gun. Shortly before the purchase, the owner of Dragon Arms gun shop in Littleton reported that five teen-agers tried to purchase an M-60 machine gun and a silencer-equipped assault pistol in early March. The five appeared on a store surveillance videoptape that was turned over to police, but it wasn't made known if any of the teens was Dylan or Eric.
Dylan was described by many who knew him to be a follower and he that Harris had a strong influence on him, particularly after 1998. He was also depicted by those who knew him as a young man who lacked confidence in himself - 'painfully shy', some folks said - but that he was not quick to anger.
This shy demeanor so many remember him by isn't shared by everyone who knew him, particularly those who knew him best in the months before the shootings. His and Eric's behavior at Blackjack Pizza where they worked definitely didn't fit that profile. When they were bored, they would buy dry ice at the nearby Baskin-Robbins and make small bombs to detonate behind the pizza place. Dylan was once written up for bringing a pipe bomb to work. He quit shortly after, but was rehired by Blackjack later when they needed employees. At least twice, the previous owner let Dylan and Eric set fire to aerosol cans, once in a mop sink and another time in an oven. They were constantly playing with fire behind the store. They let one a blaze in a dumpster grow so wild that the fire department showed up to put it out.
Dylan was known to swear in front of teachers and was once suspended from school (along with Eric and another student) for hacking into the school's computer to acquire locker combinations which they used to place a threatening note in an enemy's locker. According to Nate Dykeman, Dylan and Eric had helped themselves without permission to computer parts from the school; Dylan's father even once made him return a laptop computer the teen stole from the school. A dean of students who'd seen Dylan and Eric in his office several times told police he wasn't terribly shocked it was them who had done it as he had seen "the potential for an 'evil side'...that there was a violent, angry streak in these kids".
Students in their early morning bowling class told reporters that Dylan and Eric would shout 'Heil Hitler!' when they rolled a good ball. Tom Klebold said he "didn't know where the Nazi stuff or the violence came from"
. The Klebolds were Jewish. Nate said he that had seen Eric sketch swastikas, but Dylan never did, so it's hard to say how much Dylan actually supported the Nazi movement. That would seem out of character for a Jewish-born boy almost as much as the violent tendencies he hid from his family.
Dykeman told police that he'd seen Dylan making a purchase behind Blackjack Pizza, paying around $200-$300 dollars to Philip Duran
, a co-worker of theirs. Nate thought Dylan was buying drugs and, being staunchly against drug use himself, gave Klebold a hard time about it. Dylan told him that he'd been buying a gun (the TEC-DC9, which Mark Manes
supplied with Philip's help as go-between). With the weapons purchased, Eric and Dylan made a video at Rampart Range
where they practiced shooting the sawed off shotguns and the TEC-DC9. Mark and Mark's friend Jessica Miklich were there. The videotape of the target practice was made in March. It was shown to Nate just two weeks before the Columbine shootings. Dykeman told investigators about the tape three days after the killings.
Just weeks before the massacre, Dylan turned in a school report
that was so graphically violent that the teacher told his parents about it. "It's just a story," was Dylan's explanation, accepted easily by his parents. The story was about a lone warrior clad in a trench coat who - in gory detail - beat, stabbed, and shot to death a group of "college-preps". The character then set off bombs to divert the attention of the police. The language used to describe the 'enemies' was so strong that the teacher, Judy Kelly, wouldn't even grade the paper
until spoke with him about it. The families of three victims named Kelly, along with other school employees, in their wrongful death lawsuits contending she should have done more to call attention to Dylan's violent fantasies.
The Klebolds cooperated with Denver police fully immediately following the massacre.
In addition to other evidence police confiscated were five video tapes
, three of which the teens filmed in the basement of Eric's home. It was in these videos that Dylan's true dark side showed. He was no hapless follower blindly following Eric's lead. This was a shotgun-cracking, angry young man who wanted to hurt people and showed it in his words and body language.
He and Eric both ranted about the 'stuck up bitches' they went to school with. Dylan referred to two by name: Rachel and Jen. The sound clip
from the videos was censored by the media due to the vulgar names he called the girls, so it's hard to understand, but if you listen closely you can hear the gist of it. They also talk about someone named Nick. Rachel Scott - the first victim to die - was the prom date of Nick Baumgart, who was Dylan's childhood friend and a mutual friend of Eric's. Dylan had also known Rachel since kindergarten. These may not be the people referred to in the video, but it's worth noting.
October 1999, the Klebolds announced their intent to sue
(archived offsite link) the Jefferson County police department. The basis of their claim was that if the police had treated the Browns' report when Eric threatened Brooks more seriously, things never would have escalated to this tragic ending. Several families of the victims who died expressed support of this position, including Daniel Rohrbough's family.
There was some controversy
(offsite link) regarding Dylan's death; he died from a single gun-shot wound to the left temple. Investigators initially believed that if Dylan was going to shoot himself, he would've shot himself in the right temple. However, Dylan was left-handed. He fired guns with his left hand, something that is clearly seen in the video footage he left behind. The coroner ruled it a suicide
(archived offsite link) in Dylan's autopsy report. The Klebolds' lawyer, Frank Patterson, confirmed on behalf of the family that Dylan was indeed left-handed
(archived offsite link) and they stood by the findings of the medical examiner.
Open letter from the parents of Dylan Klebold:
Nearly a year has passed since tragedy changed the Columbine community forever. A day that began innocently ended catastrophically. The healing process has moved slowly as we all attempt to cope, not only with our own despair, but also with the distractions and intrusions that result from world attention.
There are no words to convey how sorry we are for the pain that has been brought upon the community as a result of our son's actions. The pain of others compounds our own as we struggle to live a life without the son we cherished. In the reality of the Columbine tragedy and its aftermath, we look with the rest of the world to understand how such a thing could happen.
We are convinced that the only way to truly honor all of the victims of this and other related tragedies is to move clearly and methodically toward an understanding of why they occur, so that we may try to prevent this kind of madness from ever happening again. It is our intention to work for this end, believing that answers are probably within reach, but that they will not be simple. We envision a time when circumstances will allow us to join with those who share our desire to understand. In the meantime, we again express our profound condolences to those whose lives have been so tragically altered. We look forward to a day when all of our pain is replaced by peace and acceptance.
Finally, we wish to thank those who have sent their kind thoughts, prayers and expressions of support to our family. We are constantly surprised and heartened by the gestures of understanding and compassion that have been extended to us. The support has been both humbling and inspiring, and we are truly indebted to those who have offered it.
The Klebold family -- 4-15-2000
for more specific details about and preceding 4-20-99.