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|“||Everyone is always making fun of me because of how I look and how fucking weak I am and shit. Well, I will get you back: ultimate fucking revenge here. You people could have showed more respect, treated me better, asked for my knowledge or guidance more, treated me more like a senior, and maybe I wouldn't have been as ready to tear your fucking heads off.||„|
|~ Eric Harris|
Eric David Harris (April 9th, 1981 - April 20th, 1999) was an American high school senior who, along with his best friend Dylan Klebold, committed the Columbine High School massacre, arguably the most infamous school shooting ever perpetrated. The pair killed 13 people and injured 24 others. The two committed suicide in the library at 12:08 PM, where they had killed 10 of their victims. The massacre was the deadliest high school shooting in the United States until the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School Shooting occurred in Parkland, Florida on February 14th, 2018, committed by Nikolas Cruz.
Eric Harris was born in Wichita, Kansas. The Harris family relocated often, as Harris's father was a U.S. Air Force transport pilot. His mother was a homemaker. The family moved from Plattsburgh, New York, to Littleton, Colorado, in July 1993, when his father retired from military service.
The Harris family lived in rented accommodations for the first three years that they lived in the Littleton area. During this time, he attended Ken Caryl Middle School, and Harris met Klebold. In 1996, the Harris family purchased a house south of CHS. His older brother attended college at the University of Colorado Boulder.
On April 20, 1999 Dylan Klebold had already arrived at the school in a separate car, and the two boys left two gym bags, each containing a 20-pound propane bomb, inside the school cafeteria. When these devices failed to detonate, Harris and Klebold launched a shooting attack against their classmates. At 11:19 a.m. they began shooting and killed 17-year-old Rachel Scott and severely injuring and paralyzing her friend, Richard Castaldo, then also 17-years-old. They then moved to a staircase and Harris removed his trench coat and aimed his 9 mm carbine down the west staircase toward three youths: 15-year-olds Daniel Rohrbough and Sean Graves and 16-year-old Lance Kirklin. The three friends had been ascending the staircase directly below the shooters. Kirklin later reported seeing Klebold and Harris standing at the top of the staircase, before the pair opened fire.
All three youths were shot and wounded. Klebold walked down the steps toward the cafeteria. He came up to Kirklin, who was already wounded and lying on the ground, weakly calling for help. Klebold said, "Sure. I'll help you," then shot Kirklin in the face, critically wounding him. Daniel Rohrbough and Sean Graves had descended the staircase when Klebold and Harris' attention was diverted by the students on the grass; Graves—paralyzed beneath the waist had crawled into the doorway of the cafeteria's west entrance and collapsed.
Klebold shot Rohrbough, who was already fatally wounded by the shots previously fired by Harris, at close range through the upper left chest and then stepped over the injured Sean Graves to enter the cafeteria. Officials speculated that Klebold went to the cafeteria to check on the propane bombs. Harris shot down the steps at several students sitting near the cafeteria's entrance, severely wounding and partially paralyzing 17-year-old Anne-Marie Hochhalter as she tried to flee. Klebold came out of the cafeteria and went back up the stairs to join Harris.
Police responded at 11:20 a.m. and Dylan and Eric went to the library the shooters walked to the opposite side of the library, to two rows of computers. Todd, 15, hid behind the administrative counter. Kyle Velasquez, 16, was sitting at the north row of computers; police later said he had not hidden underneath the desk when Klebold and Harris had first entered the library, but had curled up under the computer table. Klebold shot and killed Velasquez, hitting him in the head and back. Klebold and Harris put down their ammunition-filled duffel bags at the south—or lower—row of computers and reloaded their weapons. They walked back toward the windows facing the outside staircase. Noticing police evacuating students outside the school, Harris said: "Let's go kill some cops."
He and Klebold began to shoot out the windows in the direction of the police. Officers returned fire, and Harris and Klebold retreated from the windows; no one was injured. Harris walked over to the table across from the lower computer row, slapped the surface twice and knelt, saying "Peek-a-boo" to 17-year-old Cassie Bernall before shooting her once in the head, killing her instantly. Harris had been holding the shotgun with one hand at this point and the weapon hit his face in recoil, breaking his nose. Initial reports suggest that Harris asked Bernall "Do you believe in God?", to which she replied yes, before getting killed
However, three students who witnessed Bernall's death, including Emily Wyant, who had been hiding beneath the table with her, have testified that Bernall did not exchange words with Harris after his initial taunt, although Wyant stated Bernall had been praying prior to her murder. After firing through the windows at evacuating students and the police, Klebold fired his shotgun at a nearby table, injuring three students: 17-year-olds Patrick Ireland and Daniel Steepleton, and 19-year-old Makai Hall. He removed his trench coat.
As Klebold fired at the three, Harris grabbed his shotgun and walked toward the lower row of computer desks, firing a single shot under the first desk without looking. He hit 14-year-old Steven Curnow with a mortal wound to the neck. Harris then shot under the adjacent computer desk, injuring 17-year-old Kacey Ruegsegger with a shot which passed completely through her right shoulder and hand, also grazing her neck and severing a major artery. When she started gasping in pain, Harris tersely stated, "Quit your bitching."
Harris approached another table where two girls were hiding. He bent down to look at them and dismissed them as "pathetic". Harris then moved to another table where he fired twice, injuring 16-year-olds Nicole Nowlen and John Tomlin. When Tomlin attempted to move away from the table, Klebold kicked him. Harris then taunted Tomlin's attempt at escape before Klebold shot the youth repeatedly, killing him. Harris then walked back over to the other side of the table where Lauren Townsend lay dead.
Behind the table, a 16-year-old girl named Kelly Fleming had, like Bree Pasquale, also 16-years-old sat next to the table rather than beneath it due to a lack of space. Harris shot Fleming with his shotgun, hitting her in the back and killing her instantly. He shot at the table behind Fleming, hitting Townsend and Lisa Kreutz, also 18-years-old again, and wounding another 18-year-old: Jeanna Park. An autopsy later revealed that Townsend died from the earlier gunshots inflicted by Klebold. Harris walked toward the bookcases between the west and center section of tables in the library.
He jumped on one and shook it, then shot in an unknown direction within that general area. Klebold walked through the main area, past the first set of bookcases, the central desk area and a second set of bookcases into the east area. Harris walked from the bookcase he had shot from, past the central area to meet Klebold. The latter shot at a display case located next to the door, then turned and shot toward the closest table, hitting and injuring 17-year-old Mark Kintgen in the head and shoulder.
He then turned toward the table to his left and fired, injuring Lisa Kreutz and Valeen Schnurr, who was also then 18-years-old with the same shotgun blast. Klebold then moved toward the same table and fired with the TEC-9, killing 18-year-old Lauren Townsend. At this point, the seriously injured Valeen Schnurr began screaming, "Oh my God, oh my God!" In response, Klebold asked Schnurr if she believed in the existence of God; when Schnurr replied she did, Klebold simply asked "Why?" before walking from the table. The shooters moved to the center of the library, where they continued to reload their weapons at a table there.
Harris noticed a student hiding nearby and asked him to identify himself. It was John Savage, an acquaintance of Klebold's, who had come to the library to study for a history test. Savage said his name, believing they were targeting only jocks (which he himself was not), in an attempt to save his life; he then asked Klebold what they were doing, to which he answered, "Oh, just killing people." Savage asked if they were going to kill him. Possibly because of a fire alarm, Klebold said, "What?" Savage asked again whether they were going to kill him.
Klebold hesitated, then told him to leave. Savage fled immediately, and escaped through the library's main entrance. They had killed 10 people in the library and wounded 12. Of the 56 library hostages, 34 remained unharmed. Investigators would later find that the shooters had enough ammunition to have killed them all.
32 minutes after they left the library, Patti Nielson, who had locked herself inside a break room with a student and library staff, overheard Harris and Klebold suddenly shout in unison, "One! Two! Three!" These words were followed by the sound of gunfire. Both had committed suicide: Harris by firing his shotgun through the roof of his mouth; Klebold by shooting himself in the left temple with his TEC-9 semi-automatic handgun.
Psychological AnalysisIn April 2009, Jeff Kass published a book, Columbine: A True Crime Story, a Victim, the Killers and the Nation's Search for Answers. Kass was one of the first reporters on the scene and has continued to cover the story as a staff writer for Denver's Rocky Mountain News.
He has broken national stories on the shootings such as leaked crime scene photos, and the sealed diversion files of the killers. He has also reported the story extensively for the Boston Globe, Christian Science Monitor, Newsday, and U.S. News & World Report.
Although early media reports attributed the shootings to a desire for revenge on the part of Harris and Klebold for bullying that they received, subsequent psychological analysis indicated Harris and Klebold harbored serious psychological problems. According to Dave Cullen, Harris, who conceived the attacks, was a "cold-blooded, predatory psychopath" and an intelligent, charming liar with "a preposterously grand superiority complex, a revulsion for authority and an excruciating need for control". In Cullen's assessment, Harris lacked remorse or empathy for others, and sought to punish them for their perceived inferiority. According to Principal Frank DeAngelis, Harris was "the type of kid who, when he was in front of adults, he'd tell you what you wanted to hear."
According to Robert Hare, one of the psychologists consulted by the FBI concerning Harris and Klebold, the media focused on the hatred exhibited by Harris' journal and website, and interpreted this as an indication that the killings were motivated by revenge.
Hare says, "Unlike psychotic individuals, psychopaths are rational and aware of what they are doing and why. Their behavior is the result of choice, freely exercised." In analyzing the pages of enraged writings in Harris' journals, Hare concludes the writings are not an expression of anger stemming from being ostracized or bullied, but are indicative of a deep superiority complex that seeks to punish the entire human race for its inferiority. Says Hare, "It's more about demeaning other people." According to Supervisory Special Agent Dwayne Fuselier, the FBI's lead Columbine investigator and a clinical psychologist, Harris exhibited a pattern of grandiosity, contempt, and lack of empathy or remorse, distinctive traits of psychopaths that Harris concealed through deception. Fuselier adds that Harris engaged in mendacity not merely to protect himself, as Harris rationalized in his journal, but also for pleasure, as seen when Harris expressed his thoughts in his journal regarding how he and Klebold avoided prosecution for breaking into a van. Other leading psychiatrists concur that Harris was a psychopath suffering from co-morbid narcissistic personality disorder and borderline personality disorder with antisocial and paranoid features.
- He is portrayed by Ben Johnson on the Columbine episode of Zero Hour.
- He is also shown in the security camera footage as seen in Bowling for Columbine (2002).
- The indie PC game called Super Columbine Massacre RPG! is based loosely on the Columbine shootings, with Klebold as one of the playable characters. It is available here.
- He was portrayed by David Errigo Jr. in the 2016 film I'm Not Ashamed.