All bodies removed from scene
April 22, 1999
LITTLETON, Colorado (CNN) -- Investigators said Wednesday that the high number of guns, ammunition and explosives used in a deadly Colorado high school shooting made it possible that the two seniors identified as suspects had help in the attack, which left 15 people dead and 24 injured.
"We've received a fair amount of information that there were other people who were knowledgeable or seem to be associated with this group of people (the so-called 'Trenchcoat Mafia')," Sheriff John Stone said Wednesday.
"What we're a little bit unclear about is how all of these devices got here and whether people assisted them," he said.
Stone said the weapons included:
More than 30 explosive devices of three types:
Explosive devices were found in two or three cars near the school. Investigators are working to identify the owners of the cars and what their role was, if any, in the attack.
The sheriff said investigators will be re-interviewing hundreds of students about what they saw during the assault.
"To see what guns (were) in what people's hands," said Stone. "We know that these two are probably involved, the ones that are deceased. We are uncertain if we have other members in there."
Authorities identified the shooters as Eric Harris, 17, and Dylan Klebold, 18, both seniors at Columbine High School whose only past criminal record was their arrest last year for breaking into a car.
Jefferson County District Attorney Dave Thomas said Wednesday that both suspects had been through the juvenile detention system for property crimes in 1998, but they had completed a program that allowed them to clear their record.
Thomas said the program was similar to probation with a contract that specified going to school and staying out of trouble.
Teams of investigators plan more interviews with other alleged members of the "Trenchcoat Mafia," described by students as an outcast group whose members wore long black coats, to find out if they knew about or helped plan the attack.
Investigators are checking to see if the group extends beyond Columbine High School. Suspect Harris allegedly kept fellow members informed through a Web site he kept up on his home computer, which police seized Tuesday night.
Stone said investigators were checking Harris' computer records, e-mails and other contacts.
As a precaution, all other schools in the district and the city of Denver were searched by police and will be searched again before they re-open Thursday. Extra security also will be posted at all entrances, authorities said.
School district spokesman Rick Kaufman said Columbine personnel had undergone a crisis training program just last week.
The staff members at the five-hour seminar discussed escape routes in a shooting attack, how to deal with wounded students and whether to lock down the school in a crisis.
That training may have saved lives, Kaufman said. He called the staff and law enforcement officers heroes for their roles in getting many of the students out of the school safely.
The father of suspect Dylan Klebold contacted authorities while the SWAT teams were surrounding the school, according to Thomas.
A representative of the elder Klebold called authorities and said he was willing to help negotiate an end to the attack, but the offer was rejected because officials felt there was little he could do, Thomas said.
The Klebold family issued this statement Wednesday:
"We cannot begin to convey our overwhelming sense of sorrow for everyone affected by this tragedy. Our thoughts, prayers and heartfelt apologies go out to the victims, their families, friends and the entire community.
"Like the rest of the country, we are struggling to understand why this happened, and ask that you please respect our privacy during this painful grieving period."
Harris' parents also issued a statement saying only: "We want to express our heartfelt sympathy to the families of all the victims and to all the community for this senseless tragedy. Please say prayers for everyone touched by these terrible events."
Columbine High School has been closed indefinitely. With only about two and half weeks left until the school term ends, it's unclear whether classes will resume.
Investigators said Wednesday evening that all 15 bodies had been removed from the school. Two of the bodies, found outside the school building, were removed earlier Wednesday. All bodies had been left in place overnight so police could check for explosives and record the details of the crime scene. The deaths are being treated as separate homicides.
Photographs, diagrams and videotapes are among the evidence being gathered.
Eleven of the victims were male, including the two suspects, and four were female, authorities said.
All the bodies have been tentatively identified through clothing and physical descriptions provided by the families.
Thomas said one of the toughest jobs was asking parents for their children's fingerprints and dental records for positive identification. Eight of the victims had been fingerprinted when they applied for their driver's licenses.
There was no evidence, Thomas said, that the killers targeted minorities, as some students claimed. Only one of the 13 victims was black.
"I've only seen the photographs, but it appears to me that most of the victims were victims because of where they were at a particular time, not that they were sought out," Thomas said.
Twelve of the bodies, including those of the suspects, were found in the library. Authorities said the position of the suspects' bodies and their guns and the types of wounds they had indicate that they committed suicide.
Another 24 people at the school were wounded. Sixteen of whom were still hospitalized, seven in critical condition with gunshot, shrapnel and other bomb-associated wounds.
School cleared of bombs, investigators enter
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