Journal shows killer's father aware of concerns about son

Sheriff releases diaries, essays of Columbine students and a father

July 07, 2006|By NICHOLAS RICCARDI | NICHOLAS RICCARDI,LOS ANGELES TIMES

GOLDEN, Colo. -- Sheriff's officials released yesterday the last batch of documents from their investigation of the 1999 massacre at Columbine High School, a trove that included one killer's essays about guns in high schools and a diary kept by his father that dismisses complaints against his son from another classmate.

With 25,000 pages of Columbine-related documents already in the public domain, yesterday's 946-page coda offered little new information. But it did provide additional details about Eric Harris' and Dylan Klebold's plotting. Jefferson County Sheriff Ted Mink made the documents public in response to a lawsuit from The Denver Post. However, he would not release home videotapes the two killers made before their attack, saying they could spawn copycat crimes.

While much of the handwritten rantings of the two teenage killers was familiar, a new voice emerged in the documents released yesterday - that of Harris' father.

Wayne Harris kept a diary in a steno notebook marked "Eric" that detailed numerous contacts with school officials and law enforcement authorities after his son and Klebold were arrested for burglarizing a van in 1998. The two were sentenced to a diversion program.

In the notebook, Wayne Harris also dismissed complaints made by Brooks Brown, a classmate who had reported Eric Harris to police as dangerous. "We don't want to be accused everytime something supposedly happens," Wayne Harris wrote. "Eric is not at fault. Brooks had problems manipulative & con artist."

Brooks Brown said yesterday that Eric Harris had "lied about everything to his father and made him believe he was innocent and everyone else was the evil party."

Brooks' father, Randy Brown, said the sheriff's office should release everything, including the videos and audiotapes from the killers.

"There are lessons to be learned," he said. "This information will be hidden forever. They are trading their cover-up for the lives of children in other schools."

Brian Rohrbough, whose son Daniel was among those killed, said he was struck by the fact that Wayne Harris had kept a diary tracking his son's problems.

"It tells you this kid was dangerous," Rohrbough said. "The premise that these are families that didn't know what was going on in their homes is completely refuted by this journal. They used all the influence they could muster to keep their kids out of trouble."

Among the documents released yesterday was a day planner in which one of the killers marked down April 20, the day of the attack, and the time, 11:10 a.m., they would launch it. Underneath the marking is a lengthy to-do list that includes "get nails" and "finish fuses."

"Once I finally start my killing, keep this in mind, there are probably about 100 people max in the school alone who I don't want to die, the rest MUST [expletive] DIE!" Eric Harris wrote in a journal entry from October 1998, six months before the attack.

The pages are filled with profanity, racial slurs and drawings depicting violence or death. Much of the Klebold material is handwritten, with detailed drawings of guns, sketches of what appears to be the Columbine cafeteria, and his hopes for "500+" dead.

Along with detailed school maps and lists of classmates they hoped to kill were several of Harris' high school essays, including one on Nazism and an autobiographical piece written in November 1998 in which he described his car burglary case. As a result of a plea bargain, Eric Harris wrote that he and Klebold were "on a track that makes it mandatory for me to be a literal angel until March of '99." The pair staged their Columbine assault in April 1999.

In another essay, Eric Harris mused upon the problem of school shootings. "Students can get weapons into school too easily and they have [too] much access to weapons outside of school," he wrote.

He proposed more metal detectors and police on school grounds as a deterrent. "Almost every school shooting could have been prevented in some way or another," Eric Harris wrote. "We just have to spend the necessary time and money to figure out how."

Nicholas Riccardi writes for the Los Angeles Times. The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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