Trenchcoat Mafia
Trench Coat Mafia
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Although they weren't responsible for the crime, the Trenchcoat Mafia (also seen in the news as Trench Coat Mafia) were blamed. The shooters wore leather dusters that were similar to the trench coats the group wore, and they hung out with several members of the group starting around 1997-1998 -- around the time the original group disbanded. The still-new Internet picked up the idea and ran with it. The name 'Trenchcoat Mafia' quickly became synonymous with the attack.

The group: Social outcasts from Columbine High School who banded together in a sea of pecking orders and cliques. The informal social club was founded after Tad Boles received a trench coat from his mother for Christmas in 1996. Roughly a week later, Chris Morris got a similar coat. Joseph "Joe" Stair soon followed suit. Pretty soon, almost all of Boles' friends were wearing them, including John Beachem, Eric Dutro, and Cory Friesen. Other members and associates included Charles "Chuck" Phillips Jr., Josh Barnes, "Horsht", Brian Sargent, Robert Perry, Patrick McDuffee, Andy Thomas, and John "Screech" Savage. A couple of kids at school teasingly referred to them as the "Trenchcoat Mafia". They refused to be hazed; instead, the boys adopted the name proudly. They were the gamers and 'weird' kids; the ones who didn't fit in, whether by accident or design. While they weren't popular, however, they weren't the ones behind the guns.

The two shooters were Dylan Klebold (aka VoDkA) and Eric Harris (aka REB). The yearbook picture of the Trenchcoat Mafia shown on the right was taken by Cory Friesen. The news media constantly ran this image As you can see, the two shooters are not in that photo nor are they listed in the 'Who We Are' text.

According to many members and associates, the group disbanded around the end of 1998. Several of the members had either graduated or dropped out of Columbine, and those that remained were no longer wearing their trench coats. Right after the tragedy and again in late 1999, several TCM members came forward (to the media and to this site as well) to say that the gunmen were never part of their group. They said the gunmen were friends of Chris Morris, a Trenchcoater who was a senior at Columbine in 1999. He was at Cory Friesen's house during the attack.

Morris' girlfriend, Nicole Markham, was at the school, as was Cory's father, teacher Kent Friesen. Mr. Friesen was one of the men who assisted Coach Dave Sanders after he was shot. Chris had stopped wearing his trench coat around the same time that Klebold and Harris started wearing their black dusters.

The group's claims were later corroberated by independent in-depth probes by news organizations such as the Pulitzer-winning Denver Post.

Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold met sometime around the 7th or 8th grade at Ken Caryl Middle School. They shared many interests, including making and testing explosives, German industrial music and playing first-person shooter games such as Doom on their computers. They also shared a few friends in common before they met, including Brooks Brown, Dylan's friend since first grade and a neighbor who rode the same schoolbus as Eric, and Nathan "Nate" Dykeman, another boy from Ken Caryl. All four would later attend Columbine High School together.

Morris and Friesen shared several mutual friends with the shooters, including Nate Dykeman, Zach "KiBBz" Heckler, Brooks Brown, and Robyn Anderson. None of them were considered part of the group, and none wore trench coats. Columbine was not a huge campus; many of the social groups intersected. For example, Craig Scott was friends with Cory Friesen and Aaron Brown, who is Brooks Brown's younger brother. Craig Scott is the younger brother of slain victim Rachel. He is also a survivor of the massacre, having been in the library during the shooting. He was between two of his friends when they were killed.

Over the years of investigation that have followed, other names have surfaced as well in connection with the event -- individuals who share responsibility for what transpired due to their part in arming the boys: Mark Manes, a co-worker of theirs at Blackjack Pizza who sold Dylan the TEC-DC9 and even went shooting with them at Rampart Range; Philip Duran, who introduced Dylan and Eric to Mark in order to make the gun deal; Robyn Anderson, who purchased the shotguns and rifle for the shooters at a gun show. Of the three, she was the only one who did not serve time in jail for her actions, pardoned because she testified before a Grand Jury about the events leading up to the shootings.