Changing Hawaii

By Diane Yukihiro Chang

Monday, December 20, 1999

Magazine’s eerie report
on killers at Columbine

IT'S the week before Christmas, so shoppers making the mad dash to local supermarkets, drugstores and book monoliths are snapping up all kinds of must-haves for the holidays. And -- from a journalistic, current-events point of view, and certainly from a parental perspective -- one of these purchases should be the Dec. 20 issue of Time magazine.

On the cover is a grainy video surveillance photo of the Columbine High School cafeteria. It shows Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold wielding semi-automatic weapons on April 20, and imperiously surveying their frightened classmates huddled under tables.

The readouts blare that this is an exclusive for the publication on "The Columbine Tapes: The killers tell why they did it; the five home videos they made before their death; what the families are doing to prevent another tragedy."

Eerie. Morbid. Shades of the National Enquirer! But simply too compelling to ignore.

If you do buy the magazine -- to find out what made the two gunmen slaughter 13 other kids, kill themselves and traumatize the nation in the process -- what you'll learn, in part, is that:

Bullet Harris had a Web site on America Online that described the dimensions and nicknames of his pipe bombs, some of the targets of his wrath, his overall intentions ("I'm coming for EVERYONE soon and I WILL be armed to the (expletive) teeth"), and his overall disdain for the people of Denver ("God, I can't wait till I can kill you people").
Bullet Klebold's parents walked in on him when he was trying on his black leather trench coat with a sawed-off shotgun hidden underneath, but they didn't notice it.
Bullet Harris said his mom once saw him carrying a gym bag with a gun handle sticking out but she "assumed" it was his BB gun.
Bullet Klebold wrote violent essays for English class that were like "skywriting his intent."
Bullet Harris stored the four windup clocks that he later used as bomb timing devices in the middle drawer of his personal desk. Also at the Harris home were a duffel bag in the closet with the pipe bombs inside, and a CD in Eric's collection titled, "Bombthreat Before She Blows."
Bullet And the most troubling revelation: that "an employee of Green Mountain Guns called Harris' house and his father answered the phone. 'Hey, your clips are in,' the clerk said. His father replied that he hadn't ordered any clips and, as Harris retells it, didn't ask whether the clerk had dialed the right number. If either one had asked just one question, says Harris, 'we would've been (expletive).'"

THERE will be those who say that putting Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold on the cover of Time magazine only glorifies them and may lead to copycats.

Others may point out that the apparent cluelessness of their parents is certainly what led to the tragedy, as if the Harrises and Klebolds weren't haunted by that premise daily.

No, what this particular reader got from this Time magazine exclusive was the following: When it comes to your kids, don't "assume" anything. Hang out with them in their rooms. Look at their books and CDs. Ask to see some of their English papers. Clean up the closets every so often.

And, for goodness sake, make the effort to question that "wrong number" -- since one little inquiry could badly (expletive) up the best-laid plans of intended mayhem.

Diane Yukihiro Chang's column runs Monday and Friday.
She can be reached by phone at 525-8607, via e-mail at, or by fax at 523-7863.

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