Born November 6, 1981
17 years old
A born-again Christian as of 1997, she was active in church youth programs and Bible study groups. Her parents called her "Bunny Rabbit" and said she loved to go rock climbing in Breckinridge. She had recently visited Great Britain and her favorite movie was 'Braveheart'.
For a long time after the shootings, it was believed that she was the girl in the library who was asked by one of the shooters: "Do you believe in God?" and was subsequently shot because she said "Yes". There is still controversy surrounding this -- according to the Columbine Report, several witnesses claim that the conversation occurred between gunman Eric Harris and surviving victim Valeen Schnurr
. Valeen herself has verified this fact. However Joshua Lapp, a witness to the library shootings, said in his interview with investigators that the shooters asked several people if they believed in God and the answers given didn't seem to dictate who was shot or not.
Still, according to witness statements and the Columbine Report, here's what happened to Cassie: When the shooters entered the library she, like many other students, was hiding under the table she'd been sitting at when substitute teacher Patti Nielson
entered the library and told everyone to get down. She had her hands over her face, perhaps to keep from seeing what was happening as she could hear other people being shot and killed in the library, near to where she was hiding.
Just after shooting and killing Steve Curnow
and injuring Kacey Ruegsegger
, Eric Harris came around the table where Cassie and another girl were hiding. He slapped the top of the table twice with his left hand and said to the two frightened girls: "Peek-a-boo!". He then bent down, pointed his sawed-off shotgun under the table and fired once, shooting Cassie
in the right side of the head. She died immediately.
When it was still believed that Cassie was the "girl who said yes", she became a martyr to the cause of Christianity and her mother said she couldn't think of a more honorable way to die than the way Cassie was taken. But she also added: "I keep thinking about the things I need to do for Cassie," Cassie's mom told the Oprah show in 1999. "And then I catch myself... I don't need to do that. The Lord is taking care of those mom things I used to do."
Cassie was buried in a white coffin that attendees at her funeral (her pastor called it a marriage to Christ) could sign. Her mom wrote: "Bunny Rabbit, my friend, my buddy, my daughter, my mentor. I will love you and miss you forever. I promise to take good care of your kitty. I know that Jesus is elated to have you in His presence... Your courage and commitment to Christ have gained you a special place in heaven, and I am proud to call you my daughter. I love you so much, Mom."
Despite the fact that she likely didn't say anything to either of the gunmen, the story of the girl who said "yes" still inspires people all over the world and her family prefers to think of her as that girl. Cassie was laid to rest in Golden Cemetery in Golden, Colorado.
Photos of Cassie Bernall and Family:
- Cassie's mom Misty, dad Brad, and brother Chris
- Cassie with a friend
- Misc. photos of Cassie: 1
- Cassie Bernall Autopsy Summary
- She Said Yes: The Unlikely Martyrdom of Cassie Bernall
by Misty Bernall
Family's website memorial
- Who Said Yes?
by Dave Cullen
- Rocky Mountain News remembers Cassie Bernall