Seventh anniversary of Columbine massacre celebrated in different ways
LITTLETON – Far from a nuisance, the calls that Dawn Anna gets every year on the anniversary of the Columbine massacre bring back warm memories.”When you call you are remembering Lauren,” Anna told a reporter.Lauren Townsend, 18, was among the 12 students and one teacher killed seven years ago Thursday, when teen gunmen Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold attacked the school in the bloodiest such assault in the nation’s history. She was valedictorian of her class.”When you hit bottom you don’t stay down there very long. Issues come that take you back. But we have chosen to remember Lauren’s light and beauty,” Anna said.A fund in Lauren’s name that gives scholarships and wildlife grants has raised $100,000.
Columbine High School was closed Thursday, as it has been on every anniversary and the families found their own ways to remember.”We are going to take a hike in the great outdoors,” said Anna.Joe Kechter and Don Fleming played golf before visiting the graves of their children, Matthew and Kelly, both 16 when they died.”This year has been tougher than the last couple for me personally. You just never known. Some years it is easier and some years it is little harder,” said Kechter.”It is going OK. With time some of the grief is alleviated. You are never over it,” said Fleming.
For Brian Rorhbough, a persistent advocate for public disclosure of all the investigative records of the shooting, it was a day like any other.”We will spend a lot of the day thinking about Dan, and later I am going to co-host a radio show about how the investigation was mishandled. The public has a right to know what happened,” he said.Rorhbough and the families of other victims say the Jefferson County sheriff’s office ignored warnings Harris and Klebold planned violent acts. Then-Attorney General John Salazar said that although some investigative files were missing, he found no evidence of negligence by sheriff’s investigators.A lawsuit filed by victims against the parents of the teen killers was settled. The testimony the parents gave remains confidential.Jefferson County Sheriff Ted Mink, who took office after the massacre, has not yet decided whether to release some contested files, including video and audio tapes the teens made, and a diary kept by Wayne Harris, father of Eric Harris.
The Klebolds and Harrises contend the material is private, but families of some of the victims believe it is public record and should be disclosed. In a lawsuit filed by The Denver Post to make the material public, a court ruled that state law left the decision up to the sheriff.Mink has said he would announce a decision sometime after Thursday’s anniversary.Work is to begin on a $1.5 million memorial near the school on June 16. Former President Clinton will attend, the second time he has appeared to raise money for the memorial. Construction was delayed because parents and victims said a higher priority should be rebuilding the high school library, where most of the victims died.That project, now completed, cost $3 million.
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