Report: Columbine Killer Gave Hints
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DENVER (AP) _ A year before the Columbine High School massacre, teenage gunman Eric Harris told his probation officer he suffered from homicidal and suicidal thoughts, the Rocky Mountain News reported Saturday.
The newspaper said the teen’s admissions led his Jefferson County probation officer to put him in an anger management class.
``Eric said he has problems with anxiety and allows his anger to build up until he explodes,″ a counselor wrote, adding that Harris said he ``punches walls″ and has ``thoughts about suicide.″ Harris also indicated on a form asking about his emotions that he sometimes felt homicidal.
The newspaper did not say how it obtained a copy of the records, which are not public.
Critics of Jefferson County authorities have said the teen killers gave ample warning of their potential for violence, and the April 20, 1999, killings could have been prevented. One Columbine student’s parents had reported death threats by Harris to the sheriff’s department.
Randy and Judy Brown had filed a report with the Jefferson County sheriff’s office in March 1998 alleging Harris had threatened to kill their son, Brooks, and had written of pipe bombs and mass murder on the Internet. The report was investigated but no action was taken.
Harris and Dylan Klebold, the other Columbine gunman, were put in the juvenile diversion program after they were caught breaking into a car in 1998. They were allowed to leave the program early, in February 1999, barely two months before the Columbine attack.
District Attorney Dave Thomas said he did not believe the program had a legal obligation to report diversion information, such as the suicidal and homicidal thoughts marked by Harris, to anyone else.
``We do have failures,″ Thomas said. ``Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold were two of those.″
A lawyer representing the Harris family did not return a call seeking comment.
After he finished the anger management class, Harris wrote a letter contained in his juvenile diversion program file saying: ``I learned that the thousands of suggestions are worthless if you still believe in violence.″
``That’s a kid crying out for help,″ said Phyllis Velasquez, whose son, Kyle, was killed in the Columbine library. ``That’s a kid saying, ’Yeah, I’m having these thoughts. Yeah, I’m confused.‴
Gary Lozow, an attorney for the Klebold family, said the disclosure of information in the juvenile files was an invasion of privacy.
The juvenile diversion files, which have never been released, are now the subject of a court case involving the Columbine Open Records Task Force, a group working to make public reams of documents that remain sealed 3 1/2 years after the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.
Although Thomas refused to release the files twice in 2001, citing state confidentiality laws, he said, ``we’ve wanted it out for a long time.″
Harris and Klebold ended up in the diversion program after being arrested the night of Jan. 30, 1998, for breaking into a van and stealing a flashlight, a briefcase, sunglasses and tools. The juvenile diversion program allowed them to have the criminal cases wiped from their records when they successfully completed it.
As part of that program, Harris and Klebold each met with a diversion counselor in separate sessions on April 7, 1998. That was about the same time that the two started planning their assault on Columbine High, according to the writings and videotapes they made.