Police did little after warning on Columbine student

Harris' threats, Web site, his interest in bombs were reported to deputies

May 01, 1999|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

LITTLETON, Colo. -- Authorities acknowledged yesterday that they did little to follow up a neighbor's complaint last year that one of the teen-agers responsible for the killings at Columbine High School "talks often of making pipe bombs and using them to kill numerous people."

Police also said they told an administrator at Columbine, as well as the police officer assigned to provide security at the school. The officer engaged in "light conversation" with the teen-ager, Eric Harris, and his friends, but did not pick up signs that Harris was engaged in a yearlong plot that ended in a massacre at the school.

In releasing a copy of the complaint yesterday, the Jefferson County sheriff's office said it did not confront Harris or his parents because the neighbor who made the complaint did not want the Harrises to know he had done so.

The report is the strongest evidence to emerge that law enforcement officials had warnings before Harris and a friend, Dylan Klebold, attacked Columbine with pipe bombs and guns, killing 13 people and themselves. The March 18, 1998, report also said that Harris and Klebold made and detonated pipe bombs.

At a news conference, sheriff's officials defended themselves against criticism that they ignored signs that the two teens were unstable and dangerous.

Attached to the two-page incident report were copies of Harris' Web site delivered to sheriff's investigators by the neighbor, Randy Brooks Brown.

Although the report noted that Harris wrote three times on his Web site about "wanting to kill" Brown's son, Brooks, Lt. John Kiekbusch said yesterday that the investigation did "not get to the point where a crime was identified."

"We all learned a lesson on April 20th," Kiekbusch said when asked if his office had mishandled the complaint. "We need to take these in a more serious fashion."

A section of Harris' Web site titled "Philosophy" said: "God I can't wait till I can kill you people. I'll just go to some downtown area in some big ass city and blow up and shoot everything I can. Feel no remorse, no sense of shame.

"I don't care if I live or die in the shootout, all I want to do is kill and injure as many of you" as possible, he said in one of many diatribes.

Harris, who was under some type of psychiatric care at the time, wrote, "No I am not crazy, crazy is just a word."

After 3 1/2 pages listing, "You know what I hate," he described the detonation of a homemade pipe bomb: "Flipping thing was heart-pounding, gut-wrenching, brain-twitching, ground-moving insanely cool!"

Pub Date: 5/01/99

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