Columbine High School principal relives school shooting tragedy

Frank DeAngelis, who was principal of Columbine High School when the mass shooting took place, said he never got over the shooting, and all news of similar tragic events remind him of that day.
CBS News

(CBS News) NEWTOWN, Conn. - One of the parents of a Sandy Hook Elementary student said today that he always thought Newton, Conn. was the safest place in America. Folks in Littleton, Colo. Once thought the same about their town until the shooting at Columbine.

Thirteen years later, the wounds there have still not healed.

It was April 20, 1999. Two heavily armed Columbine students walked into their school and opened fire. They killed 12 students and one teacher before killing themselves.

Frank DeAngelis was and is the principal at Columbine High School. He said it still haunts him, and he hasn't recovered. When he heard about today's events, he was in shock.

"Immediately my heart was just broken and kind of nauseous to be honest with you," he said.

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His first thoughts were of the agonizing moments as the news spread.

"The thing that weighs on my mind is when parents are waiting in a room, and students are not coming to them as the other parents receive their kids," DeAngelis said. "And I'm sure every parent who is in Connecticut today when they heard the news were wondering if that child, their child, was in that classroom."

Those feelings flooded back this year with the shooting at a theater in Aurora, Colorado, about 20 miles east of Columbine High.

"I think the question that gets asked when I do go out and speak on occasions is what could stop it from happening? And, the thing that I keep stating time and time again is what causes so much hate in people's hearts that they're willing to walk into an elementary school to injure or kill kids? Where did this start?

He has one plea from a teacher who lived.

"Don't allow these people to go through it and die in vain. Violence has to stop in our schools. We have to come together," DeAngelis said.

DeAngelis and others here at Columbine High School say you don't get over this kind of tragedy. The scars are forever.

A headline in Friday morning's Denver Post, the deadline is about Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper who said it is time to rethink gun laws. He said this before Friday's events and in reference to the Aurora theater massacre. But, when you have a western governor who says something like this, it's going to add fuel to the whole gun control debate.