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Settlement Offers in Columbine Suits

November 30, 2000

DENVER (AP) _ The parents of the Columbine High School gunmen and a man who supplied the two boys with a weapon have proposed a $1.6 million settlement for those killed and injured in the 1999 rampage.

The offer was the first formal proposal stemming from the shooting, attorney C. Michael Montgomery said Wednesday.

The money for the settlement would apparently come from homeowners insurance.

The proposal came in a Nov. 20 letter to the families of three people who were killed in the attack and 10 who were wounded, all represented by a group of attorneys led by Stephen Wahlberg. The families of six slain students represented by Jim Rouse and 18 families who haven’t filed claims could also be included, according to the letter.

Brian Rohrbough, whose son Daniel was killed, said the money is not important. He said he wants to talk to the gunmen’s parents, even if it’s in a courtroom.

``I’m not very motivated to sign off on these families that raised a murderer or who enabled the murderers to do what they did,″ he told KCNC-TV.

Montgomery sent the letter on behalf of the families of gunmen Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, as well as Mark Manes, who supplied one of their guns. Harris and Klebold killed 12 students and one teacher before killing themselves on April 20, 1999, in the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.

At a news conference Wednesday, Wahlberg said negotiations began in earnest during the past three months because of the defendants’ limited resources.

Thomas and Susan Klebold did not attend the news conference but said in a written statement said they hoped for a settlement.

``A resolution of this matter without painful and lengthy courtroom battles would be a blessing to our community,″ they said.

Legal analyst Scott Robinson said the pending lawsuits could be hampered by the apparent separation of the students who were wounded and those who were killed.

``It might be a strategy by the defense to divide and conquer,″ he said. ``That may be a reality going on with the insurance company.″

Some of the attorneys, meanwhile, fear the leak to the media during negotiations could derail the talks.

``They are very preliminary, and they are very sensitive,″ said Bob Schuetze, an attorney for wounded student Casey Ruegsegger. ``All the parties would like to resolve the matter short of litigation. I certainly hope this does not prevent that.″

The letter was sent after lawyers representing wounded students Sean Graves and Lance Kirklin requested about $3 million in insurance coverage from the Harrises, Klebolds and three other defendants.

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