10th Anniversary Columbine High School Shootings

LITTLETON, Colo. (AP) - With words of hope and healing,
Coloradans on Monday marked the 10th anniversary of the Columbine
High School shootings that left 12 students and a teacher dead.
About 1,000 people gathered for a sunset memorial service at
Clement Park, next to the school, where survivors, relatives and
current students reflected on the massacre. A dove was released for
each of the 13 victims as principal Frank DeAngelis read their
names.
Addressing the survivors, DeAngelis said: "You were forced to
grow up far too quickly."
Two seniors at Columbine unleashed an attack with guns and pipe
bombs on the morning of April 20, 1999. A bigger bomb, which they
hoped would destroy the crowded cafeteria, failed to go off.
The gunmen, Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, committed
suicide.
"There are days I feel like it was yesterday. There are days it
feels like a lifetime ago," said Val Schnurr, a Columbine alumnus
who was wounded that day.
Bill Clinton, who was president at the time of the shootings,
addressed the crowd in videotaped remarks.
"It's changed you, your community, your fellow Americans,"
Clinton said of the tragedy.
The service drew hundreds of current students, many of them
wearing Columbine's school colors, blue and white, and carrying
flowers. Many said they scarcely remember the shootings.
"I feel like I owe it to the people who were hurt or killed,
because it's just such a big part of our community," said Alyssa
Reuter, 17, who was in second grade at a Littleton elementary
school in 1999.
Flags flew at half-staff over the school in the south Denver
suburbs, and mourners lay roses and carnations at the nearby
memorial, situated on a hill overlooking the school. Many wiped
away tears.
Columbine called off classes Monday, as it has every year that
the anniversary falls on a school day. A police patrol car idled
out front.
About 70 people gathered outside the state Capitol in Denver to
push for gun control, while lawmakers inside passed a resolution
honoring the victims.
"Columbine will not become just a metaphor for tragedy," Rep.
Ken Summers told lawmakers before they passed a resolution called
"Triumph Over Tragedy." Summers was a pastor in the Columbine
neighborhood when the shootings occurred.
At the gun control rally, Tom Mauser, father of Columbine victim
Daniel Mauser, said the shooters did not kill the victims' spirits,
and "they did not kill our spirits either."
Thirteen people with blue and white ribbons wrapped around their
necks lay at the foot of the Capitol steps to represent the
victims, and 23 others representing the wounded encircled them.
Andrew Goddard, of Richmond, Va., whose son Colin was wounded at
the Virginia Tech massacre two years ago, attended the rally. He
said new police tactics that emerged after Columbine probably saved
his son's life.
"They (Columbine victims) paid a huge price for that small
lesson, but that lesson did benefit the students at Virgina Tech,"
he said.
At Columbine, police and deputies followed a standard tactic of
establishing a perimeter before advancing carefully toward the
gunmen. Afterward, many agencies adopted a new policy of
aggressively attacking a shooter.
Virginia Tech student Seung Hui-Cho killed 32 people and
committed suicide on April 16, 2007.
Oprah Winfrey canceled an episode of her talk show scheduled to
air Monday, called, "10 Years Later: The Truth about Columbine."
Winfrey posted a message on her Facebook page, saying that after
she reviewed the taped show, she decided to pull it because of its
focus on the two gunmen. She urged viewers to keep the Columbine
community in their thoughts.
---
Associated Press Writers Alysia Patterson, Steven K. Paulson and
Colleen Slevin in Denver and Caryn Rousseau in Chicago contributed
to this report.
---
On the Net:
Columbine Memorial: http://www.columbinememorial.org
Columbine High School:
http://sc.jeffco.k12.co.us/education/school/school.php?sectionid282

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

AP-NY-04-20-09 2150EDT


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