Saturday, March 3, 2007

Criminal Profiling Topic of the Day: Columbine High School

Several bomb threats were called in to Columbine High School last Thursday, leading authorities to evacuate the school and cancel classes for the rest of the day. It was at least the 10th time the school or its students were threatened with violence since Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris shot and killed 13 others before killing themselves on April 20, 1999, but only the 2nd time a threat led to evacuation and closing of the school. Jefferson County sheriff’s spokesperson, Jacki Kelley, said she believes the caller was seeking media attention because he specifically requested that his threat be reported on CNN. “Most of the threats that have been associated to that school made reference to past events that occurred there,” Kelley said. “But a bomb threat to a school is as serious at any school as it is at Columbine.”

After a thorough search, it was determined the threat was a hoax and the school was reopened on Friday.

I doubt a reference to the events of 1999 is hardly necessary to remind anyone who survived the attack or who anxiously watched and waited for it to end, of the diversionary explosive devices used by Klebold and Harris in their highly organized premeditated assault.

Last Thursday, almost every newspaper and television station in the country kept the brief reports and updates of the situation focused on the appropriate response by law enforcement, instructions for students and parents, and decisions made my school authorities regarding the rest of the day’s activities. This course of action by authorities is aimed at maintaining calm, promoting efficiency of the response teams, and minimizing risk to persons and property by taking away the control and power of manipulation by the perpetrator. However, I have seen no announcement of a suspect in custody yet, and here is where public confidence can start to waver. If the threatening caller hasn’t been arrested or received the attention he seeks, will he become angry and possibly carry out his threat of violence? That is a question for our profiler, however, I hope that if, and when an arrest is made, information will be released in as timely, and authoritative a manner as Thursday’s bomb threats were.

Another event relating to the 1999 attack is undoubtedly contributing to rising emotions as the 8th anniversary of the Columbine shootings draws near. In Federal court this week, a judge is expected to decide whether the depositions of Harris and Klebold’s parents will be destroyed or held under seal at the National Archives and Records Administration for 25 years. Parents of some of those killed by the gunmen are arguing that the documents containing several hours’ worth of questioning should be made public instead.

Donna Weaver

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