‘Generation of broken hearts’: Minnesota shootings convey echoes eerily reminiscent of Columbine
DENVER – Eerie echoes of the Columbine High School massacre reverberated across Colorado Tuesday as chilling parallels emerged between the 1999 shootings in Colorado and a deadly school rampage in rural Minnesota.”It just resurfaces feelings that we had with Columbine,” said Beth Nimmo, whose daughter Rachel Scott was among the 13 victims at the school in suburban Denver. “The truth is we’ve got a generation of broken hearts.”A 17-year-old gunman killed seven people before taking his own life at Red Lake High School in Red Lake, Minn., on Monday. His grandfather and his grandfather’s companion also were found dead.At Columbine, Dylan Klebold, 17, and Eric Harris, 18, killed 12 students, a teacher and themselves on April 20, 1999.
At Red Lake, witnesses said the teen – identified by the FBI as Jeff Weise – smiled and waved as he gunned down his victims. Students at Columbine said Klebold and Harris also smiled as they fired.Witnesses at both schools recounted the gunmen asking victims if they believed in God, and shooting them after they said yes.Gunmen at both schools had been placed in disciplinary programs – Weise for violating an undisclosed school policy, Harris and Klebold for breaking into a van and stealing tools and other items.Some Red Lake students said Weise had anti-social beliefs. He may have posted admiring messages about Adolf Hitler on a neo-Nazi website. Harris had posted threats on a website, and he and Klebold staged their attack on Hitler’s birthday.And gunmen at both schools were described as outsiders who complained of being teased by other students.
Tom Mauser, whose son Daniel was killed at Columbine, said the Red Lake tragedy rekindled the shock and trauma of the 1999 massacre and made him angry that the lessons of Columbine apparently have not been absorbed.”Have we become so used to this phenomena of kids making threats that we don’t take it seriously, or is it that we don’t know what to do in this society when that happens?” he said.Brian Rohrbaugh, whose son Daniel was killed at Columbine, also speculated that warning signs were missed at Red Lake.”I suspect we’ll learn that just like every other school shooting there was advance warning, a lot of information, and it wasn’t acted upon. If that’s not the case this will be unique in school shootings,” he said. “My heart goes out to the victims’ families.”Dawn Anna, mother of Columbine victim Lauren Townsend, said the Red Lake shootings made her heart sink to “the bottom of my stomach.”
“I just wished no one would ever know this feeling, and now obviously we have families in another community that do,” Anna said. “They just really have to dearly hold on to each other and hold on to their faith and let others help.”Columbine principal Frank DeAngelis, who was in charge of the school during the 1999 shootings, said he will call in additional counselors when students return from spring break next week if he thinks they will be needed.DeAngelis said he was trying to reach Red Lake school officials to offer his support, as administrators of other schools where shootings had occurred contacted him after Columbine.”I think there’s that common bond there,” he said. “Unfortunately we have been through so much that we’re pretty well trained on getting the support that people need.”Nimmo, Rachel Scott’s mother, traveled to Germany after a school shooting there in 2002. She said she has no plans at the moment to travel to Minnesota but did get an e-mail from a Red Lake resident asking her to pray for the community.
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