ARCHIVAL (JEFFERSON COUNTY DISPATCH 911 TAPES):
DISPATCHER: Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, do you have an emergency?
TEACHER: Yes, I am a teacher here at Columbine High School. There is a student here with a gun.
NARRATION: When Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold staged their attack on Columbine High School 20 years ago, they were dressed in black trench coats and armed with guns and homemade bombs. Journalist Dave Cullen says they were hoping their actions would bring them notoriety.
DAVE CULLEN (AUTHOR, “COLUMBINE”): Eric talked about his audience in his journal, and whether they were going to understand this. They took the tactics of terrorists and said, ‘We can do this for our own aggrandizement.’
NARRATION: Cullen spent nearly ten years researching Columbine and has written about other school shootings.
DAVE CULLEN: All of these horrifying events are performances. And they created the template; all the other ones are built on that.
ARCHIVAL (NBC, 4-20-07):
PETER ALEXANDER: Seung-Hui Cho wrote that he was inspired by the Columbine killers attack eight years ago today.
ARCHIVAL (ABC7, 11-25-13):
DAN ASHLEY: The gunman, Adam Lanza, was obsessed with the 1999 Columbine High School attack.
PETER LANGMAN (PSYCHOLOGIST AND AUTHOR, “SCHOOL SHOOTERS”): What’s interesting is that nearly 20 years after the attack, people are still going back to Columbine, even kids who weren’t alive when that attack happened.
NARRATION: Psychologist Peter Langman has been tracking school shootings – and the people who carry them out – for over a decade. He keeps detailed profiles of the statements and writings of mass shooters and has diagrammed a tangled web of 45 shooters that were influenced by Columbine.
PETER LANGMAN: Just knowing about an attack obviously doesn’t cause people to commit other attacks. But for some people who are already on the pathway finding a role model seems to be a very common part of their journey.
NARRATION: Langman and others are concerned that the intense media coverage of mass shooters…
ARCHIVAL (WCAU, 6-19-15):
ANCHOR: Who is Dylann Roof?
NARRATION: …can inadvertently reward those seeking fame through violence and give them a platform for airing their grievances publicly.
ARCHIVAL (CNN, 6-19-15):
CAROL COSTELLO: Why did a gunman mow down worshipers inside an iconic southern church?
ARCHIVAL (ABC, 5-26-14):
CLAYTON SANDELL: Rodgers’ manifesto describes a life of deprivation and unfairness, but his Facebook page tells a story of privilege.
DAVE CULLEN: It’s always going to be on TV. The question is how much fuel do we give them? How much TV time, how much are they on the Internet?
NARRATION: Some news outlets are trying to change the dynamic by focusing coverage away from the mass killers.
ARCHIVAL (CNN, 12-15-12):
ANDERSON COOPER: I want you to know we are not, during this broadcast, using the name of the shooter. Often it seems that history remembers the names of murderers and not the names of victims.
NARRATION: But after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida it was students who survived who took control of the story…
ARCHIVAL (MSNBC, MARCH FOR OUR LIVES, 3-24-18):
NEWS CLIP: It was less than six weeks ago when a gunman came on their campus and slaughtered 17. Now these teenage leaders are saying enough.
NARRATION: …and launched a nationwide call for gun reform.
ARCHIVAL (MSNBC, MARCH FOR LIVES, 3-24-18):
ALEX WYNN: To those people that tell us that teenagers can’t do anything, I say that we were the only ones that could have made this moment possible.
NARRATION: 20 years after the Columbine, the new normal for today’s students includes active shooter drills and lockdowns.
ON SCREEN: SINCE THE COLUMBINE SHOOTING IN 1999, MORE THAN 226,000 CHILDREN HAVE BEEN EXPOSED TO GUN VIOLENCE AT SCHOOL.
SOURCE: THE WASHINGTON POST