A Warning On The Web

Amidst all the tragedy at Columbine High School there are two central questions: How did Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold meticulously plan this attack without anyone becoming suspicious? And were there obvious signs that went unnoticed?

On a web site attributed to Eric Harris, CBS.com discovered some disturbing images:

  • A shotgun and knife-toting Goth figure standing above burning skulls.

  • Another, clad in body armor, shooting a victim.

  • A drawing of a tech-9 machine pistol, one of the weapons used in the attack.
If the image is flipped over, sketches on the back of the paper become quite clear.


They are diagrams:
  • Of bomb detonators made with model rocket motors.

  • A group of rocket motors attached to what looks like a propane bottle. It's a device similar to one found by the bomb squad in the school's kitchen.

  • An illustration of a pipe bomb.

  • A concealed knife that springs into action from the user's forearm.
It would seem something was going on in Harris' mind. So why didn't the people closest to him - his family - pick up on it?

At school, Harris and fellow gunman Dylan Klebold openly admired Hitler, hurled insults at minorities and conducted a running feud with the school's athletes. In the presence of adults, however, they were polite and friendly.

In 1998, both boys were caught breaking into a van and entered a juvenile-court diversion program allowing them to clear their records. They finished the program this past February, with flying colors.

"Eric is a very bright young man who is likely to succeed in life. He is intelligent enough to achieve lofty goals as long as he stays on task and remains motivated," a diversion officer wrote in Jefferson County District Court documents. Klebold received similar praise.

Each teen completed 45 hours of community service, received counseling and wrote an apology letter. Harris also received additional counseling in anger management.

"These guys came in and put their best face on," said District Attorney Dave Thomas, the diversion officer's boss. "Most of us in the system wish we were human lie-detectors, but we're not."

The teens' middle-class upbringing lulled adults into complacency even as classmates grew alarmed at their bitter, vengeful tendencies. It seems no adult was able to put the pieces of the violent puzzle together:

  • Harris' violence-laden website.

  • What police called a "virtual bomb factory" in the basement of the Harris home.

  • The videotape reportedly made by Klebold and Harris for a class project, showing them acting out th violence they later inflicted on the school.

  • Membership in a group of outcasts called the "Trench Coat Mafia".

  • Harris' and Klebold's fascination with the dark and sinister.

  • Death threats Harris had made against other students.
But there are signs that Klebold's father suspected his son might be a threat to himself and others.

On Tuesday, amid TV reports of gunmen in trench coats rampaging through Columbine High, the elder Klebold contacted authorities, suspecting his son was involved and offering his help as a mediator. He was too late.