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Sheriff Wants Time in Columbine Suits

May 9, 2000

DENVER (AP) _ Lawyers for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office want at least another 20 days to respond to a series of lawsuits filed by families of some of the victims of the Columbine High School massacre.

More than a dozen lawsuits have been filed since two student gunmen killed 12 classmates, a teacher and themselves at the school April 20, 1999. The lawsuits accuse the sheriff’s office of mishandling the response and acting too slowly. One claims teacher Dave Sanders was left to bleed to death for more than three hours while police waited to enter the school.

Under state law, lawyers for the department and officers had 20 days to file answers to the lawsuits. In most cases, that deadline came on Monday.

County spokeswoman Kathryn Heider said the lawyers will ask for an extension on the filing deadline.

Jim Rouse, lawyer for families of five of the victims, said a first request for an extension, lasting 20 days, is automatically granted. After those 20 days are up, he said, he expects the department’s lawyers will ask the court to dismiss the lawsuits.

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