Monday (April 20) was the anniversary of the horrific shooting at Columbine High School in United States’ Colorado, in which 12 students and one teacher were killed by two teenagers, who later committed suicide.
The legacy of the shooting includes what has been called the ‘Columbine effect’, referring to the several copycat crimes and mass shootings that have since occurred in the US. The incident also impacted popular culture in the country.
Memories of the Columbine massacre have also resurfaced because of the mass shooting in Canada on Sunday, in which 16 were killed after a gunman disguised as a police officer went on a rampage in the country’s Nova Scotia province.
The Columbine shootings
The perpetrators, Eric Harris (aged 18) and Dylan Klebold (aged 17), were students at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.
On April 20, 1999, the two entered the school armed with semi-automatic rifles, pistols, and many explosives.
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Both 12th graders in the school, Harris and Klebold killed 12 fellow students and one teacher in less than 20 minutes. Twenty-one others were wounded, and three more were injured while trying to escape.
Harris and Klebold traded gunshots with the police before ending their own lives in the school’s library.
Later, authorities also discovered propane tank bombs at the cafeteria, thus uncovering a deadlier plot. Had the bombs detonated, they would have caused a much higher death toll, officials noted.
Harris and Klebold had been planning the massacre for around a year, according to reports. Their motives remain unknown.
In the aftermath of the incident, police were strongly criticised for being too slow to enter the school and for not intervening during the shooting. Reports said that because of the police delay of several hours, some of the victims bled to death.
Considered among the deadliest school shootings in US history, the incident stunned the country, and sparked debates about gun control laws, bullying, and violence in video games and films. Many schools in the country invested in private security and metal detectors.
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Police forces in the country later began adopting the Immediate Action Rapid Deployment (IARD) tactic, employed during active shooter scenarios.
The shootings have since left their impact on popular culture, as well as on similar subsequent tragedies that have occurred in the country. In many school shootings that have happened in later years, killers have admitted drawing inspiration from Harris and Klebold.
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