Columbine victims | Injured 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
Overviews and experiences of each injured Columbine survivor. Names contained within brackets [ ] indicate the victim didn't know the person but subsequent investigation has provided the identity of the individual.
Updated photos were provided by the individual or their families, used with permission. Yearbook photos are used per Section 107 of the Fair Use Act.
, 17 in 1999.
Richard was friends with Rachel Scott
. They were seated on the grassy knoll outside the west entrance of the school when the shooting began. He and Rachel had recently started eating lunch together every other day. They were doing just that when the shooters opened fire on them. Richard had barely noticed the two shooters when the bullets hit him
. He dropped, critically injured. He could hear Rachel crying and was sure she had been shot too. Though he had seen Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold around campus before, Richard did not know them. Richard and Rachel were the first of several victims.
Richard played dead until law enforcement came to pull him off the grass. He was hit eight times in his left arm, right arm, chest, back, and abdomen. His lungs, kidney, and spleen were damaged and one of his vertebrae was fractured between the shoulders, leaving him
paralyzed from the chest down. He was moved from the Swedish Medical Center June 1, 1999 to Craig Hospital
for spinal cord rehabilitation. He was released August 21, 1999; he the last of the injured to be released from the hospitals. He remains in a wheelchair.
He got his driver's license in February, 2000, and drives
a van modified for his wheelchair. He planned to attend Arapahoe Community College and expressed a desire to have a career a sound designer in the game design field (see his online resumé
He was featured in Michael Moore's 'Bowling for Columbine
' documentary wherein he, along with Mark Taylor
, managed to convince K-mart to stop selling ammunition. It came out later that Moore was less than honest with Richard and the other survivors regarding his intentions with the film.
In 2000, Castaldo's father Rick made a congressional testimony about Project Exile: The Safe Streets and Neighborhoods Act of 2000
. According to his statement, he and Richard didn't blame the guns for what happened. They also didn't feel that making more laws would help as over 17 federal laws were already broken during the course of the shootings at Columbine High. Instead they wanted the government to focus on prosecuting to the full extent laws that were already in place.
On January 31, 2002, the Olympic torch was passed along Pierce Street, from survivor Patrick Ireland
to Richard Castaldo
and Columbine principal Frank DeAngelis. Mr DeAngelis handed it off to John Tomlin Sr, father of victim John Tomlin
In 2006 Richard visited the Littleton Fairgrounds for the Columbine Evidence Exhibit
May 6, 2006 Richard was interviewed
about his opinions regarding the Super Columbine Massacre RPG!
, which he downloaded and played to see exactly what it was. In his words:
"I appreciate the fact at least to some degree that something like this was made. I think that at least it gets people talking about Columbine in a unique perspective, which is probably a good thing. But that being said there are a lot of things that are hard to play or watch. And it seems to partially glamorize what happened."
Director Danny Ledonne put out a documentary film in 2008 called Playing Columbine
that Richard Castaldo was featured in regarding the subject of the game and the Columbine shootings.
In November, 2012, Wells Fargo threatened to foreclose on Richard's home
in Los Angeles. The 31 year old turned to Occupy Los Angeles
for help to keep his handicap-enabled condo.
Photos of Richard Castaldo:
+ Richard in the hospital 1999
+ Richard in the hospital just before release
+ Richard at home with his family
+ Richard's modified van the he drives
+ Richard Castaldo in 2006
+ Richard in Huffington Post, 2012
+ Richard performs 'sit down comedy' act Jan 2012
, 15 in 1999.
Sean was in the cafeteria with several friends including Dan Rohrbourgh
and Lance Kirklin
. Lance had been making centerpieces out of everyone's plates and decided he wanted to go have a cigarette. Sean and Dan decided to go with him and the boys had just left the cafeteria and were heading toward the grassy knoll outside the east entrance of the school with plans to go to "Smokers' Pit", an area at Clement Park across the street that was popular with the smokers who attended Columbine.
The shooters were roughly twelve feet away when Sean saw them. According to his statement in the Columbine Report
, he remembered "looking up the hill and seeing black clothes". He saw two people dressed in black, the tallest of which had a duffel bag at his feet.
Sean and his friends were nearly to the top of the hill when the gunman who would later be identified as Eric Harris loaded his gun then turned and fired on the west entrance roughly 10 times. The taller shooter, later identified as Dylan Klebold, saw Sean and the other boys then and opened fire on them. Eric followed suit. Sean heard Dan yell. Dan stumbled back into Sean and fell; Sean saw Dylan point his weapon at him then and he felt something graze his ear.
At that point Sean thought the shooter had a paint ball gun, under the mistaken impression that it was senior prank day. Lance turned to run and was shot in the leg. He fell to the ground and Sean realized that it was not
a prank. He turned to run as well. He took three shots to the abdomen and back but still managed to make it as far as the cafeteria door
before his legs gave out. He thought he'd been hit by tranquilizers because he couldn't feel them. Later he would learn he'd been shot in the leg.
Seeing that the cafeteria door was closing, Sean blocked it with his arm and yelled to people inside to get the tranquilizers off his back. A female dean tried to pull him inside but another school employee told her not to move him because of his back. Sean then tried then to scoot inside the doorway but couldn't manage it; he was caught half in and half out of the cafeteria.
Sean could hear explosions coming from the commons. He took off his backpack because his back was hurting -- he still couldn't grasp that he'd been shot. He saw a bullet hole in the back of his backpack but didn't see an exit and thought the bullet must be stuck in a book. A lady inside the cafeteria tried to comfort him then she was gone. Sean decided to play dead. Dylan stepped on him when that shooter entered the cafeteria to check on the bombs left there earlier. Sean could hear shots inside and more explosions.
At one point the janitor came over to hold Sean's hand; Sean told him to leave so the shooters - who were still in the school - wouldn't know he was alive. He told the man that he wanted to play dead so the janitor left him. There were more explosions from the common area and then the propane bomb partially detonated. There was a "swoosh of a fire ball" and the overhead sprinklers came on. The cafeteria was on fire and he was stepped on again by students trying to escape the blast. He heard some say "don't leave him" but the only thing he could do was lay there and pray. He started to lose consciousness about the time he heard sirens. He remembered medics coming to pull him to safety but couldn't remember anything of the event after that.
When asked by investigators about the Trench Coat Mafia (TCM) he said that he knew them by name only, dating back to when he was attending Ken Caryl Middle School (the same school, incidentally, that Eric Harris attended). However, he never associated the shooters with the group. He told invesitgators that he'd seen members of the Trench COat Mafia in passing but didn't know any by name. He also told them that he didn't remember seeing any members of the TCM on the day of the shooting.
Sean was best friends with fellow victim Patrick Ireland
; both boys were good friends of the deceased Danny Rohrbourgh
. Sean and Lance Kirklin
haven't spoken much about that day, Sean told reporters. He said he that he gets too emotional to talk to Lance in person, preferring email correspondence as of 1999.
His back/spine injury was deemed an 'incomplete spinal injury' by doctors, meaning that he was paralyzed below the injury level but retained some feeling and movement. He was later moved to Craig Hospital for spinal cord rehabilitation. On June 20th, 1999 he took his first steps. He was released from Craig July 7th, 1999.
Sean told reporters he used to have nightmares about being shot long before the attack on Columbine. Those nightmares stopped after the shooting. His home was rebuilt to accomodate the wheelchair he was using at the time and donations from folks around the world paid for a home gym to assist with his personal therapy. Sean's father Randy purchased him a used pick-up truck when Sean was 16, when the teen proved to his father he could get in and out of it unassisted.
Sean graduated from Columbine in 2002, using only a crutch to walk across the stage to receive his diploma. That same year a 20-year-old Sean went back to Columbine for the 5th 'anniversary' of the tragedy. He planned to place a cigar on the ground where Danny died.
"Watching my friend die is still traumatic, but it is in the past. I'm not trying to be mean. I just have to focus on today and looking at the positive and the future."
-- Sean Graves (see the article
As of 2023, Sean is married to longtime girlfriend Kara and has a daughter, Olivia. He still lives just six miles from Columbine. When asked if he ever considered moving, he told interviewers: "No. This is my home."
Columbine High Survivors Find New Normal
Anne Marie Hochhalter
, 17 in 1999.
Anne Marie was outside eating lunch on the grassy knoll with her friends, Jayson Autenrieth and Kim Blair, when the shooting began. Her 16-year-old brother Nathan was also a student at Columbine and was in one of the Science rooms at the time. At first she thought it was a joke but when she saw students getting shot in the legs, she realized it was real. She tried to run to the safety of the cafeteria. [Eric Harris
] shot her
, in the back and in the chest. She was paralyzed by a bullet that severed her spinal cord and went through her diaphragm (it was later found lodged in her liver). She collapsed. She told investigators later that while she was playing dead she could hear one of the gunmen shouting orders to the other but couldn't understand what they were saying.
When she was rescued by paramedic John Aylward, she had virtually no blood pressure. If rescue reached her when they did, she would have died. Doctors called her the "miracle girl".
Anne Marie was taken to Swedish Hospital first, then to Craig Hospital for spinal cord rehabilitation. She spent a total of four months in the hospital. At Craig Hospital she underwent rehabilitative therapy with fellow survivor Patrick Ireland
. She resumed school September 9, 1999 and had one Physics class with him. Her family bought a house with wheelchair ramps and lifts with the help of the Colorado Homebuilders Foundation. At age 18, she was attending Columbine part time and helped out in the nurse's office in addition to taking classes. She wanted to go on to community college once she graduated, but had planned to take the summer of 2000 off to "be a teen" since she'd lost that time the previous summer.
The following is Anne Marie's open letter to the public the day she was released from the hospital and is unedited.
Pictures of Anne Marie in her new home in Littleton.
"To all the people who have cared about me from the day I was hurt:
I am leaving Craig Hospital today and didn't want to have a press conference, but wanted to write my own press release. I have wanted to be private during my recovery, and I appreciate the media's respect for my wishes.
I have many thanks to share. First, I wish to thank my family who has loved and supported me all through my recovery. I would like to thank the paramedics and staff at Swedish Medical Center who saved my life. I want to thank the Craig Hospital staff who taught me the skills to be independent again. I want to thank my many friends who have visited me and cared about my well-being from the very beginning.
Thanks also to the families who have brought meals to my family every night, and to all the caring people across the country who prayed for me, and who sent wonderful gifts and cards. They meant a lot to me. Your loving care and support have helped me tremendously to get through my recovery.
I still have many obstacles to overcome, but I know that I can do it, and God will give me strength along the way.
Once again, I give my thanks to all of you."
Anne Marie Hochhalter
August 12, 1999
Just two months later her family in the news again following the death of her mother, Carla Hochhalter. Anne's mother had struggled with depression for at least three years before the shooting. Following the shooting, people who knew Carla (including Richard Castaldo's mother Connie Michalik) said they saw how much the tragedy affected her. She was hospitalized September 16, 1999 after she went to an ER seeking help for her mental state. She was released October 14, 1999 to an outpatient program.
On October 22, 1999, Carla entered Alpha Pawn Shop
in Englewood. She asked to see a gun and give it a 'dry fire' to test it. While the clerk filled out Mrs. Hochhalter's background check, Carla discreetly loaded the gun with bullets she'd brought in. She fired a shot into the wall then shot herself
in front of 6-10 witnesses. She was pronounced dead at the hospital.
The Hochhalter family later sued
the hospital for failure to diagnose her as suicidal and for failing to keep her hospitalized.
Anne Marie's father Ted was married to Carla for 22 years. A year after Carla's death, he married Katherine Zocco, one of the grief counselors they met.
In 2000, Anne Marie met with the media
for an update. She still couldn't walk and was often in severe pain. Her mother's suicide had set back her rehabilitation but she was making progress; slow, painful progress. She earned her business degree from the University of Colorado and bought a townhouse in Westminster. In 2002 she was working as a manager for the Westminster Bath & Body Works. She was promoted to Manager in 2009.
Valeen "Val" Schnurr
, 18 in 1999.
Valeen was in the library during the shootings. She had been sitting on a chair near a table that was close to the main entrance and a window that looked out into the hallway. At the table were seated her friends Jessica Holliday (who left the table shortly after Val's arrival), Lisa Kreutz
, Diwata Perez, Lauren Townsend
, and Jeanna Park
. Another girl [Kelly Fleming
] was seated at the table as well. Valeen had chosen to sit near, not at, the table due to the fact that she had arrived late and the table was full. While Val was reading she heard a shot and shortly after, teacher Patti Nielson
came in, telling everyone to get down. Val hid moved to the table where Jessica had been and hid beneath it, along with the other girls who had been sitting there. She found herself sitting next to Lauren, who pulled her closer and told her that everything would be okay. At that time many of the students thought it was all just a senior prank.
When the shooters entered the library, all she could see was their legs. She heard them yell at Isaiah Shoels
and then shoot a couple of people before one of the shooters [Dylan Klebold
] moved over to her table. He shot beneath it
, injuring her and Lisa Kreutz. He fired again, as fast as his gun would shoot, this time killing Lauren
. Val fell out from under the table, realizing only then that her stomach and abdomen were hurt. Panicking, Val repeatedly cried out: "Oh, my God! Help me!"
There was some controversy for a while about "who said 'yes'?" - for a long while news contended Cassie Bernall
was a martyr who was shot for answering 'yes' when one of the shooters asked her if she believed in God. Joshua Lapp, one of the students who was in the library but uninjured stated that the killers spoke to many students, and asked more than one if they believed in God. What their answer was didn't seem to dictate whether they got shot or not.
Attracted by Val's cries, the shooters both came over to where she was. One of the shooters, who was reloading his weapon at the time, then asked her if she believed in God. She floundered in her answer, saying no at first and then yes, trying to get the answer 'right'. He asked her 'Why?' and she said it was because it was what her family believed. Valeen then crawled back under the table where she lay down and played dead until the shooters left the library. She tried then to wake Lauren but when she couldn't, Val fled the library. She was one of the last to leave the library, of those that could.
Val suffered nine soft tissue wounds to her left arm, chest, and abdomen from shrapnel and through-and-through bullet wounds. she was released from Swedish April 27. Graduated from Columbine May 22. She graduated from Columbine
May 23, 1999 despite her injuries.