Columbine High School shooting | When
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'When' is a difficult thing to determine, as what happened at Columbine High School was the end result of several months worth of prior planning and suspicious incidents involving the shooters. According to the dates on journals and video tapes Denver police found during investigations, 'when' started at least a year prior to the shootings. Police reports reflect the same, calling out brushes both boys had with the law as early as January, 1998. And the roots of the rage that enabled them to carry out such a horrible plan were in place long before that.

April 20, 1999 is the date when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold attacked their school. However, the narrative timelines linked here begin in 1993 -- when Eric Harris moved to Littleton. The timelines contain an explicit retelling of the actual shootings; it's a very long and thorough study of the event though by no means exhaustive.

In regards to why they chose April 20, there has been a lot of debate and no solid answers.
A page from Eric Harris' day planner
Important dates that have been bandied about by the theorists: the Oklahoma City bombing (courtesy Tim McVeigh, ex-military, April 19th, 1995). The Branch Davidian stand-off in Waco (April 19, 1993). Hitler's birthday (April 20, 1889). There's the classic reference to pot-smoking (4:20) of course. KMFDM also released their album Adios on April 20, 1999, something that Eric commented on in his journal.

In their writing, the two gunmen implied that their target date was actually the 19th, a Monday. Neighbor Bill Konen's account (offsite link) of hearing them up late on Sunday the 18th grinding glass led to some speculation that the shooters weren't ready by Monday the 19th so they waited till Tuesday. However, they had 95 bombs between them, as well as several knives and four guns when they entered Columbine; they weren't exactly short on firepower. However, on Monday the 19th, Harris asked Mark Manes to buy him ammunition (offsite link) for the TEC-DC9, telling him that he'd be using it the next day. Dylan detailed out specific plans in his dayplanner for the assault they were planning on the school.

Many theories about their timing have been brought up in public forums and on the news, but the real reasoning behind the "When" of the shootings died with Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold in Columbine's library.

The shooters opened fired on Tuesday morning, April 20th, at 11:19 a.m. They killed thirteen people and injured twenty-four others before committing suicide at 12:08 p.m.

It was just 17 days before graduation.

The first of the Columbine funerals started on April 23, 1999, with victim John Tomlin.