Eric David Harris was born April 9, 1981, in Wichita, Kan., to Wayne and Kathy Harris. He had a brother, Kevin, who was three years older. Wayne Harris was in the U.S. Air Force and moved his family many times during the course of his career. In 1983 the Harris family moved to Dayton, Ohio; in 1989 they moved to Oscoda, Mich., and in 1992 the Harris family moved to Plattsburg, N.Y. Wayne Harris retired from the Air Force, and in July of 1993 the family moved to Littleton, Colo. Eric went to Ken Caryl Middle School where he met Dylan Klebold.
Wayne and Kathy Harris told investigators that, as a child, Harris played soccer and baseball, and by the 7th and 8th grades developed an interest in computers. Harris was also interested in baseball cards, computer games and videos. His parents said that their son was content to be by himself but also had close friends in high school. While attending Columbine High School, Harris became involved in video productions and the school's Rebel News Network as well as the school's computer labs. Harris went by the nickname "REB." This may have been short for "rebel," which is also the name of the school mascot.
On Jan. 30, 1998, Harris and Klebold were arrested after breaking into a vehicle in Jefferson County. In April 1998, they were both placed in the juvenile diversion program offered by the Jefferson County District Attorney's Office and were required to pay fines, attend anger management classes, counseling and complete community service. Once they successfully completed the diversion program, all charges were dropped and they were released from the program on Feb. 9, 1999.
As part of the diversion program, Harris wrote a letter of apology to the victim. In the letter, Harris apologized and explained how disappointed he was in himself for his actions. It seemed to be a sincere, heartfelt letter from a young man who had made a mistake. Harris also wrote a paper on anger management and how to control his anger.
On March 18, 1998, the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office took a "suspicious incident" report from Randy Brown, stating that his son, Brooks, had received death threats from Harris. These threats were reported to have been contained in Harris' web pages. On his web pages, Harris also allegedly wrote about making and detonating pipe bombs and using them against people. Brown requested that he and his family remain anonymous in making the report for fear of retribution, particularly to his son.
The information was reviewed by Sheriff's investigators; however, Harris' web site could not be accessed nor could reports of pipe bomb detonations be substantiated. Because of Brown's request to remain anonymous, Klebold and Harris were not contacted. Further investigation was initiated but no additional information was developed.
Because of the routine nature of the report and investigation, the former Jefferson County Sheriff, Ronald Beckham, was not informed of the report at the time. The District Attorney, subsequent to April 20, was provided with information from Harris' web pages. After reviewing the report, the DA offered the opinion that, based upon the information in the report to law enforcement, there would have been insufficient basis to legally support a request to obtain search or arrest warrants.
Harris and Brooks Brown later reconciled their friendship and, on April 20, 1999, Harris allegedly told Brown, immediately prior to the shootings, to leave the school "because he (Harris) liked him (Brown)."
During the spring of 1998, Harris began his journal and wrote about how much he hated mankind and how much he loved his anger.
Harris' journal began in April 1998, and he wrote about how much he hated the world and his belief that he and V (Dylan Klebold) were different because they had self-awareness. Harris wrote, "I will sooner die than betray my own thoughts, but before I leave this worthless place, I will kill whoever I deem unfit…" He documented that he wanted revenge against anyone who he perceived had ever wronged him.
In October 1998, Harris wrote that someone was bound to ask, "What were they thinking?" He answered, "I want to burn the world, I want to kill everyone except about 5 people … if we get busted any time, we start killing then and there … I ain't going out without a fight."
Harris also talked about choices and the fact that he chose to kill. He went on to say, "It's my fault! Not my parents, not my brothers, not my friends, not my favorite bands, not computer games, not the media, it's mine." In another entry he stated, "I'm full of hate and I love it." There was only one journal entry in 1999 and in it Harris evaluated his and Klebold's preparations, to include their weapons and bombs. He ended by writing, "I hate you people for leaving me out of so many fun things."
In December 1998, Harris wrote that he would have been a good Marine, that "it would have given me a reason to be good." Whether Harris truly wanted to be a Marine or if he used this as an excuse to avoid planning for a future he would never have is unknown. Harris did apply for enlistment in the Marine Corps, but the medication he was taking disqualified him.
In Klebold's 1998 yearbook, a year before they went on their rampage, Harris wrote, "God I can't wait till they die. I can taste the blood now - NBK" (Natural Born Killer) "You know what I hate? …MANKIND!!!!…kill everything…kill everything…" Harris also drew a gunman standing amongst a sea of dead bodies with a caption, "The only reason your (sic) still alive is because someone has decided to let you live."
Harris also wrote in his own 1998 yearbook. He wrote on the photographs of almost every student words such as "worthless", "die", and "beat." As he continued through the yearbook, he simply put X's on those students who he did not like. Very few photos were not marked.
In Harris' 1998/1999 academic day planner were lists of things to buy and "things left to do." On the page for Mother's Day 1999 Harris wrote, "Good wombs have born bad sons."
An undated piece of notebook paper was recovered showing a diagram of the Columbine High School cafeteria with two X's next to the pillars. Alongside the diagram was a timeline of how many people were in the cafeteria just prior to and during the first lunch period.
Just as Klebold had a written itinerary for April 20, Harris had one as well. On a piece of paper from his day planner he recorded the plans for the day. The entry follows:
Investigators will never know exactly when Harris and Klebold verbalized to each other their hate towards others and their desire to kill. However, it is clear from his journal that Klebold had those feelings as early as 1997, and Harris began expressing his thoughts in his journal in April 1998. It is also apparent from their cryptic yearbook messages to each other that they had already begun their plans for the Columbine shootings by April 1998 -- a full year earlier.
There were also many common themes throughout their writings. Harris and Klebold both wrote of not fitting in, not being accepted and their lack of self-esteem. They reflected on natural selection, self-awareness and their feelings of superiority. They plotted against all those persons who they found offensive - jocks, girls that said no, other outcasts or anybody they thought did not accept them. Most of those teens were unaware that they had ever offended Harris or Klebold.
Harris and Klebold left behind videotapes documenting many of their plans, their activities and their philosophies. One of the tapes was almost two hours long and taped on three separate occasions in March 1999. The second tape, about 22 minutes in length, was shot on two separate occasions on April 11 and 12, 1999. The third tape, 40 minutes long, was taped on eight separate occasions from early April 1999 to the morning of April 20, 1999. Harris and Klebold taped a tour of Harris's bedroom and showed off their weapons and bombs. They recorded each other conducting dress rehearsals and they taped the drive in Harris's car to buy supplies needed for their plans.
While talking to the camera, Harris and Klebold laughed at how easy it was to make other people believe what they wanted them to. They talked about how "evolved" they were and how they considered themselves to be "above human." They said they were going to be successful because they were going to die and stressed that they had been planning the Columbine shootings for over eight months, before all the other school shootings had occurred.
Klebold and Harris both talked on camera about the rage and anger that had built up for years and declared they would destroy the world if they could. Harris asserted that, "There is nothing that anyone could have done to prevent this. No one is to blame except me and Vodka." He went on to say that their actions were "a two man war against everyone else."
There were also indications that Harris and Klebold initially planned the shootings to occur on April 19. They specifically mentioned Monday and another time said, "Today is the 11th, eight more days." They never articulated why they chose the day they did and never mentioned that April 19 was the anniversary of Waco, Texas or the Oklahoma City bombing. They never verbalized that they even knew April 20 is Adolph Hitler's birthday.
Harris and Klebold seemed to have lived two lives. Their friends and family described them as normal teenage boys. Others described them as outcasts. But they left behind evidence of a much darker and sinister side. This darker side was an aspect they apparently shared only with each other.
There was also evidence that Harris and Klebold had little concern for the welfare of their friends and the siblings of their friends, many of whom were in the cafeteria and library on April 20. In fact, they mention nonchalantly that some of their friends might die and casually point out that their families would be devastated but justified it by saying, "War is war."