Columbine shooter's mother still cringes at idea of copycats

DENVER -- Sue Klebold doesn't break down in tears anymore when she learns about another mass shooting. The attacks have become too common in the 17 years since her own son killed 12 of his classmates and a teacher at Columbine High School in Colorado.

See Full Article

Now, she is analytical, wondering if the gunman hid weapons at home the way her son Dylan did. Whether there were warning signs like the ones she missed with him.

Most painfully, Klebold wonders if the shooter used images of her son and details of his crime, still widely available online, as a model to gain fame through the slaughter of innocent people.

"Every time I see a photograph of Dylan on the (Columbine) surveillance tapes, I cringe," Klebold said. "Because every time that occurs somewhere there is a disenfranchised individual that is using that as a blueprint."

Klebold spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday, a week after the release of her memoir, "A Mother's Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy," exploring the causes of her son's violence and ways to prevent future attacks through mental health awareness.

Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris opened fire at the suburban Denver school on April 20, 1999, killing 13 people before taking their own lives. Another 24 people were injured in the attack.

Sue Klebold knew her son had some problems but wrote in her book that she dismissed them as teenage angst while he quietly plotted the killings and detailed the depths of his pain in journals she only discovered after his death.

"I wish I had learned how to communicate differently with him and how to listen better," Klebold said. "I wish I had realized that things can seem perfectly fine when they are not, and the other lesson I wish I had learned is to shut up and listen."

With the book, Klebold said she tried to commemorate his life without glamorizing his troubled final years in a way that would inspire copy cats.

In the years after the Columbine attack, she and her ex-husband Tom Klebold vigorously fought the release of videos that her son and Harris filmed in her basement that offered glimpses of their methods and motives. The parents worried that the details would offer a roadmap for future violence.

Other mass killers have been obsessed with the Columbine attack, drawing on a wealth of information in books and movies, fan websites dedicated the shooters, and even a Broadway show. Klebold said she still receives mail from young women across the country professing their love for her son.

To Klebold, conversations in the media and elsewhere that followed other mass shootings have been frustrating. They seemed to dwell on the gory, voyeuristic details of a shooter's life while avoiding the larger problems that made the person want to kill and allowed it to happen.

She said she published her book after finally mustering the courage at a time when the public seemed eager to talk about violence and mental health.

"People who engage in acts such as this are not well, they are having significant malfunction going on," she said. "This is the result of a mental or brain health condition that escalated to a stage-four lethal condition."

She is donating any profits from the book to mental health charities and research, hoping for solutions that will help parents and professionals spot and thwart signs of trouble. That could be as simple as doctors' offices requiring mental health screenings during routine checkups or having school officials undergo suicide-awareness training, she said.

Speaking out has been cathartic, she said. And some victims found it helpful to hear from her, too.

Coni Sanders, whose father, Dave Sanders, a Columbine teacher, was killed in the attack, said it's a relief to hear a less sensational conversation about the shooting.

"We seek answers, and she doesn't have a magic answer for what happened, and people needed to know that," Sanders said. "There is no magic answer. These are important issues that we need to continue to look at."



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Donald Trump to skip Kennedy Center arts awards [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    BRIDGEWATER, N.J. — In a break with tradition, President Donald Trump and the first lady have decided not to participate in events honouring recipients of this year’s Kennedy Center Honors arts awards to “allow the honourees to celebrate without any political distraction,” the White House announced Saturday. Source
  • Death of an American Fuhrer

    World News Toronto Sun
    George Lincoln Rockwell’s ambitions were undiminished by reality. He wanted to be the American Fuhrer. A despot who would rid the United States of blacks, Jews and their commie fellow-traveling supporters. The 49-year-old fanatic had spent years building the American Nazi Party but all around there were traitors, cannibals ready to eat the emperor of the new order. Source
  • Train derails in northern India, killing at least 23

    World News CTV News
    LUCKNOW, India -- Six coaches of a passenger train derailed in northern India on Saturday, killing 23 people and injuring at least 81, officials said. Two of the coaches telescoped into each other, while four others toppled over after going off the track, said Arvind Kumar, a top official in Uttar Pradesh, the state where the derailment occurred. Source
  • Woman's flag ripped away as thousands march through Boston [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    BOSTON — Conservative activists and leftist counterprotesters prepared for a confrontation on Boston Common that could draw thousands a week after a demonstration in Virginia turned deadly. Police Commissioner William Evans said Friday that 500 officers — some in uniform, others undercover — would be deployed to keep the two groups apart on Saturday. Source
  • Butt patrol: Ont. cop dispensing $110 fines for tossed cigarettes

    Canada News CTV News
    A Barrie, Ont. police officer is on a crusade against careless smokers. “Thirty-three per cent of most of the world’s trash thrown out onto the roads are cigarette butts,” Const. Mark Casey, a former smoker himself, told CTV Barrie. Source
  • Police separate 500 neo-Nazis, opponents at Berlin protest

    World News Toronto Sun
    BERLIN — Some 500 far-right extremists marched Saturday in Berlin in honour of the 30th anniversary of the death of top Nazi Rudolf Hess — and they were separated by hundreds of heavily armed police from an equal number of counter-demonstrators. Source
  • Canadian government delegation marking 75th anniversary of Dieppe raid

    Canada News CTV News
    DIEPPE, France -- Veterans Affairs Minister Kent Hehr is leading a Canadian government delegation to France to mark the 75th anniversary of the Dieppe raid during the Second World War. The raid, launched on Aug. Source
  • Finland stabbings 'a likely terror act;' Ties to Spain eyed [Video]

    World News Toronto Sun
    HELSINKI — The knife attack in western Finland that left two people dead and seven others wounded is “a likely terror act,” Finland’s intelligence agency said Saturday, while police said Europol was investigating if it had any ties to deadly vehicle attacks in Spain. Source
  • Suspect arrested in killing, wounding of Florida officers

    World News Toronto Sun
    KISSIMMEE, Fla. — A suspect in the fatal shooting of a police officer in Florida and the grave wounding of a sergeant was arrested several hours after the attack in a bar, authorities said Saturday. Everett Miller faces a charge of first-degree murder for the killing of Officer Matthew Baxter and could face other charges for the wounding of Sgt. Source
  • Liquor stores closed in Turkmenistan's capital for a month

    World News CTV News
    ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan -- Liquor stores have been closed down and alcoholic products taken off the shelves of food stores in the capital of Turkmenistan ahead of a major international athletic completion next month. Merchants at several stores told The Associated Press on Saturday that authorities had ordered alcohol sales be halted until October, after the Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games conclude. Source