A Tragedy Brings Light to Many

Reported By: Gabriella Stalter

On April 20,1999 the nation was struck by what would go down into history as an infamous tragedy. In Littleton, Colorado, two teens, by the names of Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, opened fire on Columbine High School.  

It as approximately 11:19 a.m. on April 20th, when Klebold and Harris began shooting their fellow students outside of the school. The to teens were dresses in trench coats to conceal their weapons. By 11:35 a.m., Klebold and Harris had killed 12 students, one teacher, and they had wounded more than 20 other people, with most of their victims in the school library.  Finally, at 12 p.m., the two teens had turned their guns on themselves and committed suicide within the walls of the school.

Harris and Klebold were carrying two 9mm firearms and two 12 gauge shotguns. Harris additionally had a Hi-Point 995 Carbine, that carried thirteen 10-round magazines and a Savage-Springfield 67H pump-action shotgun. Klebold used a 9x19mm Intratec TEC-9 semi-automatic handgun with one 52-, one 32-, and one 28-round magazine and a Stevens 311D double barreled shotgun. In addition to firearms, the two teens had wired explosives and planted them around their high school, in attempt to destroy the school and murder more people. The two teens suffered from bullying and depression, however Erin Harris also was diagnosed with psychopathy and sadism. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris did not see any other way out of their hellish existence, except to open fire on those who made it that way.

According to the FBI, a mass shooting is a shooting that kills four or more people, excluding the shooter or shooters. With this definition, the history of mass school shootings in the United States aone dates all the way back to 1764, when three men entered a schoolhouse near present-day Greencastle, Pennsylvania, and killed 10 students. Even though this Columbine shooting was very tragic, and is the reason for many schools across America enacting a zero tolerance rule regarding disruptive behavior and threats of violence from students, it was not the deadliest or the last. For example, in 2007, a massacre at Virginia Tech left 17 people wounded and 33 people dead.

Although Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris died at approximately 12 p.m., this was not the end for the school. The school did not reopen until fall of 1999, and many were still scared from the tragedy that had occured in their very halls. In addition, now, Frank DeAngelis, Retired Principal of the Columbine High School, is a national-level speaker who addresses numerous professional and school audiences on the topic of recovery after a school-based tragedy. He also is serving as a consultant for safety and emergency management. Retired Principal DeAngelis has received multiple awards for his teaching, leadership and coaching skills, along with assisting in the recovery of school communities such as: Platte Canyon, Chardon, Virginia Tech, and Sandy Hook. Retired Principal DeAngelis was even in the Corning Painted Post High School on Wednesday, February 28th at 6:30 p.m. During this presentation, Mr. DeAngelis told his story of the Columbine Shooting. He also revealed the leadership lessons he had learned in the focus of an international firestorm, providing invaluable insight into managing the after crisis with students, staff, and the community.

The school shooting tragedies are not yet behind us, however Frank DeAngelis believes, that “our lives are not determined by what happens to us, but how we react to what happens; not by what life brings to us, but by the attitude we bring to life. A positive attitude causes a chain reaction of positive thoughts, events, and outcomes. It is a catalyst…a spark that creates extraordinary results”.

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