School papers about the culture of Nazi Germany, crudely drawn images of weapons and bomb vests, copious lists of hates (homosexuals, racism, Iraq, JonBenet Ramsey, young smokers, schoolwork, people who are mean to animals, rappers) and loves (natural selection, Zippo lighters, freedom of speech, school, techno).
Essays on the Battle of Plattsburgh and Great Senior Expectations ("learning to express opinions in a civilized manner is very important in the 'real world' "), mindless online chatter with girls about weekend plans, a letter to software-maker ID with suggestions about the shooter game "Doom."
And a poem with the lines, "I pretend I am walking on the moon/ I feel that I will get straight A's again/ I touch the sky/ I worry that I will have a fire in my house/ I cry when I see or hear a dog die/ ... I dream I am the only person on Earth/ I try to be as nice as I can."
These are some of the alternately banal and disturbing documents found in a nearly 950-page collection of diaries and evidence released by Jefferson County Sheriff Ted Mink on Thursday related to the Columbine High School massacre of April 20, 1999. The papers belonged to teen killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, whose rampage that day left 12 students and one teacher dead before they took their own lives in the worst high school shooting spree in U.S. history.
The documents, which include diaries, calendars, transcripts of computer chats, letters, drawings, receipts, school papers and other personal effects, were taken from the homes and cars of Klebold and Harris after the shooting.
Mink told CNN he resisted releasing the documents because he feared others would take inspiration from them, but the disclosure of the materials was forced due to a lawsuit brought by The Denver Post.
After soliciting advice from families of the Columbine victims, law enforcement officials and people affiliated with Columbine High School, Mink decided to release the papers but withhold an audiotape and the "basement" videotapes made by the killers before the shootings (see "Columbine Shooters' Parents Fight Release Of Homemade Videos"). The tapes — which have made their way onto the Net — show the teens practicing the assault and shooting weapons.
"The tapes are very, very disturbing" and could motivate copycats, Mink told the Post.
Many of the documents released Thursday (July 6) have been available before, but among them was a diary kept by Harris' father, Wayne, which was made public for the first time. In it, Wayne Harris frets about his son's alleged harassment of another student. The 60-page steno notebook also has copious notes on Eric Harris' contact with police and school officials over disciplinary issues.
Elsewhere, calendar pages feature hand-scrawled notes such as "get nails," fill my clips" and "finish fuses." A page dated the day of the attack has the time 11:10 written across the top, a chilling reference to the approximate time the two heavily armed teens pulled out their weapons and started their spree. Other calendar entries range from "Death (Afraid?)" to more references about getting nails, gas and duffel bags, finishing "t-bombs" and stashing gas tanks in the garage.
The plans for the massacre are also laid out, from the need to secure $20 for gasoline to $200 for "expenses" to highly detailed hand-drawn schematics of the school's interior. There is also a section on "Napalm tests" that authorities blacked out to avoid providing bomb-making instructions. The names of songs and lyrics by bands such as Rammstein and a list of 43 names on the duo's "hit list" of students they planned to attack were also redacted by authorities.
The range of material is dizzying, from an essay called "The Mind and Motives of Charles Manson" to a poem titled "I Am a Gun," which features the lines, "I am God/ I kill people/ I was never made for hunting, just to kill humans when someone needs to die I kill them." A seemingly random list of derogatory names for ethnic groups sits next to what looks like a grocery list that includes soda pop, drywall, oatmeal, fireworks, Kool-Aid and gumbo.
There's also an essay written by Harris for a court-ordered anger-management class he was forced to attend after he and Klebold were convicted of breaking into a van in 1998. "I believe the most valuable part of this class was thinking up ideas for ways to control anger and for ways to release stress in a nonviolent manner," Harris wrote.
Perhaps most disturbing is an essay by Harris in which he writes about wanting to carry out an even bigger attack than the school shooting, including the killing and torture of a former friend and the explosion of hundreds of bombs in houses, bridges and gas stations in the area.
"It'll be like the L.A. riots, the Oklahoma bombing, WWII, Vietnam, Duke and 'Doom' all mixed together," he wrote. "I want to leave a lasting impression on the world." In the final document in the release, an e-mail questionnaire sent to Harris by a friend asks him to name everything from his favorite kind of ice cream to his favorite vacation spot and whether he eats breakfast first and then brushes his teeth or brushes first. To the question, "What's the most important thing in someone's personality?" Harris responded, "compassion."
For more on the Columbine shootings, check out the feature "Columbine High, Five Years Later."