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Posted: 4/8/2002 5:53:43 PM EDT
Los Angeles Times: Bitterness About Columbine Lingers [url]http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/nation/la-000025170apr08.story?coll=la%2Dheadlines%2Dnation[/url] THE NATION Bitterness About Columbine Lingers Investigation: Families of victims say they are still waiting for a full accounting of what happened in the nation's worst school shooting. By J. MICHAEL KENNEDY TIMES STAFF WRITER April 8 2002 DENVER -- Brian Rohrbough, his face lined and pale, works to keep his tone even as he talks about the time that has passed since his son Danny died in the fusillade that ripped through Columbine High School. Three years gone, he says, and police have yet to fully account for their actions that April day when Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold rampaged through the school. Rohrbough takes the stonewalling personally. He believes a policeman killed his son that day. "I think victims' families have certain rights--to be told the truth about what happened," he says. "All I want is the truth." The worst school shooting in U.S. history has left not only many lingering questions but also a legacy of rancor and continued accusations. A few weeks ago, someone leaked Columbine crime scene photos to the Rocky Mountain News, one of Denver's two daily newspapers. The Jefferson County Sheriff's Department had pledged they would never be made public. Though the paper ended up not publishing the photos, the resulting brouhaha prompted Sheriff John Stone to order his entire department to take polygraph tests to identify the paper's source. Parents of the 12 slain children had been pinning their hopes on an independent legislative investigation, complete with subpoena power, to resolve unanswered questions about the massacre and its aftermath. Many of the parents broke into tears last month when the state Legislature, citing the high cost, voted down a bill calling for the investigation. The state representative who sponsored the legislation has vowed to reintroduce it soon. The Colorado attorney general and the Jefferson County district attorney have taken their own steps to staunch criticism of the Columbine investigation. They recently asked the approximately 35 law enforcement agencies that responded to the April 20, 1999, massacre to turn in everything they possess, including investigative interviews and other records related to the case. They hope to create a clearinghouse of information and curtail the numerous accusations that authorities either withheld data or gave out wrong information. Critics applaud the effort but say it should have been done long ago, before evidence was lost or destroyed. -- continued --
Link Posted: 4/8/2002 5:55:19 PM EDT
At the same time, Sheriff Stone, still smarting from the accusation that a policeman may have shot Danny Rohrbough, has asked the sheriff in nearby El Paso County to look into the thoroughness of his Columbine investigation. The results of that review are expected to be made public within several weeks. Also, Jefferson County Dist. Atty. Dave Thomas recently asked the county coroner to conduct an inquest into Rohrbough's death. But the coroner declined, saying he did not want to put witnesses, many of them students, through more trauma. He also said the inquest would serve "no purpose" because it would not change the official conclusion about Danny Rohrbough's death unless new evidence surfaces. Father Keeps Fighting Meanwhile, Columbine-related lawsuits have dwindled to a single case. More than a dozen suits, filed by the victims' parents against the Harris and Klebold families, the police and others have been settled or thrown out of court. The remaining lawsuit was filed by the family of Columbine teacher Dave Sanders, who bled to death inside the high school even as students begged rescuers to help him. The suit, for which no trial date has been set, contends that Sanders died because rescuers waited three hours to enter the building. "It's a story with the longest legs I've ever known," Thomas said. "There's always something new. The latest is the release of these photos. It didn't just happen by accident. Someone wants to keep this story alive." One person keeping the Columbine story from fading is Brian Rohrbough, who installs high-end sound equipment from his industrial park shop in suburban Englewood. Rohrbough has joined with his former wife, Susan Petrone, in the quest for information about the death of their only son. Rohrbough, 43, whose neatly trimmed hair is going gray, is one of several parents of Columbine victims who have appeared on television and radio programs to demand a complete accounting of the shootings. Rohrbough has long contended his son was killed by "friendly fire," based on his interpretation of the evidence. But he stunned the Columbine community late last year by filing a federal court document asking for the reinstatement of a lawsuit that named Denver Police Sgt. Daniel O'Shea, who had been decorated as a hero for his actions at Columbine, as the man who accidentally shot Danny Rohrbough. "I think he shot Dan," Rohrbough said. "I think O'Shea got on the scene and then Dan comes running down the stairs and he mistook Dan for a gunman and shot and killed him." Rohrbough's evidence is circumstantial. He first named O'Shea after learning that soon after Columbine, an emotional O'Shea told an acquaintance that he thought he might have shot an innocent student during the melee. Coupled with that is the tape-recorded statement of a former deputy sheriff--also a onetime family friend--who told Rohrbough he saw Danny shot much later than the official version of events. According to Rohrbough's analysis, that would have put O'Shea at the scene rather than on his way to it. The former deputy, Jim Taylor, later said he had not seen Danny fall to the ground. -- continued --
Link Posted: 4/8/2002 5:56:15 PM EDT
Finally, Rohrbough points to the fact that the bullet that killed his son was never found, making it impossible to link the shooting to Harris and Klebold. O'Shea denied Rohrbough's accusation. What he had told the acquaintance, O'Shea explained, was that he was glad he hadn't accidentally shot a student--any student--during the shootout. He also said television footage shot during the massacre backed up his version of what happened. Rohrbough says the footage was shot an hour after the attack began and proved nothing. O'Shea said after seeing the film: "Daniel Rohrbough was shot by Klebold and Harris right at the outset of this, before anybody had a chance to dial 9, much less 911." He declined to be interviewed for this report. Sheriff Stone and his chief lieutenants also declined to comment. Citing the advice of their attorneys, they also refused to testify before the governor's commission investigating Columbine. Sheriff Criticized The sheriff has come under fire from various quarters, mostly from parents battling for records about what happened on the day of the massacre. Stone also has been criticized for making speeches outside Colorado while staying silent at home, as well as for giving videotapes made by the killers to Time magazine. On Friday, he announced he would not run for reelection, citing the strain of the job since the shootings. "John Stone is a very complex individual and one I haven't been able to figure out," said Thomas, the district attorney. "I think what's happened is sad for him personally and sad for his department." Critics fault Stone's department for bungling the post-Columbine investigation and for not recognizing Klebold and Harris as dangerous when, a year before the shootings, it received complaints about them. Just recently, it became clear that no detailed record exists of how O'Shea expended 60 rounds of ammunition, more than a third of all shots fired by officers that day. Law enforcement was again criticized last month because ballistic experts didn't run complete tests on the bullet found in the backpack of student Corey DePooter, killed in the school library. The bullet came from the carbine fired by Harris, but a sheriff's spokesman said the oversight was discovered only recently. And then came the pictures leaked to the Rocky Mountain News. One purportedly shows Harris and Klebold after they committed suicide inside the school. "What this shows is that it's an incompetent department," said Randy Brown, whose son Brooks was killed at Columbine. "These photos were trophies, things to take home and show around." Brown and his wife, Judy, were the parents who complained to the Sheriff's Department a year before Columbine that Harris was making death threats on the Internet, including one against their son. The complaint was never acted on. -- continued --
Link Posted: 4/8/2002 5:56:56 PM EDT
"I believe Jefferson County and the state of Colorado are about as corrupt as it can get," he said. "They know this is a major failure by a police department and no one will admit it. They have no interest in finding the truth here." If you want other stories on this topic, search the Archives at latimes.com/archives. For information about reprinting this article, go to www.lats.com/rights.
Link Posted: 4/8/2002 6:07:30 PM EDT
Someone proved that the cop that said he shot a child leaving the building was lying. He was on the wrong side of the building to make the shot.
Link Posted: 4/8/2002 6:20:13 PM EDT
I am bitter about Columbine, CCW in Colorado would have passed that year if it hadn't been for those punks and incompetent LEO commanders.
Link Posted: 4/8/2002 6:31:58 PM EDT
Those parents are angry. They have found it easier to be angry at law enforcement than face the real horror head on: Their own local kids did the deed without help from Osama, Koresh, Bush or Satan himself. In essence they did it to themselves. Misplaced anger.
Link Posted: 4/8/2002 6:32:19 PM EDT
I watched the ongoings live on CNN. Don't know how one of those LEOs can look themselves in the mirror every morning.
Link Posted: 4/8/2002 6:57:11 PM EDT
Originally Posted By Astrogoth: Those parents are angry. They have found it easier to be angry at law enforcement than face the real horror head on: Their own local kids did the deed without help from Osama, Koresh, Bush or Satan himself. In essence they did it to themselves. Misplaced anger.
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Yep, those parents are angry. Yep, it's really easy to be angry at law enforcement. [b]NO[/b], they did not do it to themselves! Whatever happened to blaming the CRIMINALS, and not the VICTIMS? If you want to blame parents, blame the Harrises and the Klebolds, and not the parents who had their kids shot to death in a public school. Beyond that, is an ACCOUNTING too much to ask for? Why the cover up, if there is nothing to hide? For THREE YEARS these people have waited for answers, to which the sheriff has NOT replied "We don't know," but instead "We're not gonna tell you." Forget the gun rights/gun control aspect of this (to SS109, a bunch of kids get waxed and the ONLY thing you have to say in response to LEO stonewalling is "CCW was gonna pass?" I support "shall issue" as much as the next man, but boo-fucking-hoo!) for a minute, and just ask yourself one question: If you were related to one of the victims, wouldn't you be DEMANDING that the police own up on just what happened? Did Law Enforcement do a good job? A bad job? A mediocre job? We don't know--they're the only ones who have got the data to answer that question, and they aren't talking. And that's just wrong.
Link Posted: 4/8/2002 7:22:26 PM EDT
Link Posted: 4/8/2002 8:03:54 PM EDT
Originally Posted By JIMBEAM: Someone proved that the cop that said he shot a child leaving the building was lying. He was on the wrong side of the building to make the shot.
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The cop who lied, lied to some friends who (unknown to him) were recording him. He said he saw a cop fire a burst from a F.A. weapon, and saw a kid drop on the ground. Brian Rohrbough used that crap to declare O'Shea as the man who shot his kid, but his kid was DRT before any cop was on scene, and the cop who lied was on the other side of the building: His new line is "would you like fries with that burger?" As far as drjarhead's remarks, the cops on scene did as they were told by their commanders. The grunts were all waiting for their commanders to give them the word to go in, but the command staff had their heads up their asses, and the order never came. The grunts can look themselves in the mirror: It's the command staff that screwed up. In an "active" shooter situation, us grunts in my agency already have our orders: Go ahead: Go "active" on me !!!! Jay [img]http://www.commspeed.net/jmurray/images/iroc-cop.gif[/img]
Link Posted: 4/9/2002 10:00:37 AM EDT
Azcop, I agree with DR: how can those cops look themselves in the mirror every morning? Although the command staff shares a good bit of the blame, the buck stops with the so-called good guys with the guns, at whatever level. How could ANY cop NOT go into an active shooting where they KNOW innocent children are being murdered? Not me and not any cop worth his gun and badge, IMHO. You can't use the excuse that they weren't prepared: A similiar situation occured in a McDonalds in San Diego several years ago: same situation: active killing and the guys with the guns wait around for "orders" because some command desk jockey is stuck in traffic. BS: I've got a gun, I'm going in and I'm not even a cop. In my opinion, EVERY LEO on-site that day that failed to enter the building and engage the shooters should be retired, with prejudice. The cops of Columbine have a lot to answer for, not just the full accounting but also the fact that they did NOTHING for so long and the fact that they failed to do anything after several repeated complaints about those 2 monsters. My .02. Merlin
Link Posted: 4/9/2002 4:42:47 PM EDT
Alright, Jay, I'm going active. I saw all the cops standing around jacking there jaws like it was a fucking sunday picnic. Didn't seem to bother them one bit. They are not just poor excuses for cops but poor excuses for men. Hiding while kids are being killed does not fit my definition of manhood. Maybe your definition is different. I hope not. While I wasn't there I'm pretty damn sure I would have gone into that building myself if I faced that or a similar situation. Yeah, those cops got to go home to see their families that night. The cost for that was the lives of others. But I guess it is true that according to SCROTUS they were, and are, under no obligation to come to our defense under any circumstances. No fucking balls at all.
Link Posted: 4/9/2002 5:08:48 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 4/9/2002 5:17:03 PM EDT by OLY-M4gery]
Hindsight is always 20-20, It's easier to judge than to do. Even if you don;t believe it LEA's act how citizn's demand that they do. How do citizen's demand? By having legislators pass laws, sueing the LEA's for actions or inactions depending on the situation, and sometimes just plain old calls to the PD. This is a disputed topic, even here. Many say the police should've gone in. Many say that if the police had gone in it would likely have caused others to be injured possibly at the hands of the police. The reason that police didn't enter situations like that is because they USED TO. The history of doing that involved police getting involved in shoot outs, often resulting in officer deaths, suspect deaths, and bystander deaths. Guess what, when the police get involved in shootings a lot of people come forward to say what the police shoulda, coulda, woulda, done to make the outcome better. That inlcudes the people who think the police should be able to shoot guns out of people's hands like the Lone Ranger. More than a few people that post here regularly think that police shoot outs amount to the police being Judge, jury, and executioner, and find it unacceptable. The method that came about in the 60's-70's was to set up a pereimeter, no escape, and let a negotiator try to talk the suspect out. This was much more acceptable to many people because it often works and it is less likely to result in further death or injury. It is also much easier to defend than an officer involved shooting, either criminally or in a lawsuit. The problem with this type of plan is it is ineffective when you have armed suspects that are still shooting at people. I don't think that the officers who followed their training and policy should be faulted. But their higher ups should be. Of course it is always easier to scapegoat a grunt than a general. The leadership was/is responsible for the training, policy, and equipment that the line staff receives. If the policy, or training is defective then they should be reesponsible for it, because they approved it. EDIT: Then again it's also accurate to say that the citizen's of any given community are responsible for how their police are trained and equipped. The School Resource Officer at Columbine was eating lunch in his police car in the school parking lot when the shooting started. He emptied 3 mag's in a gun battle with the BG's. He hit the Tec-9 that one of them was using, in the magazine. I wonder why the SRO didn't have a long gun. Could it be that like many LEA's the SO wasn't allowed to buy rifle/carbines due to financial concerns?? Could it be that the community thought that AR-15's look to "evil". Could it be that the School didn't want a long gun in a police vehicle that was going to be used primarily on school grounds??? Who is responsible for that? Why wasn't LAPD equipped with rifles/carbines during the North Hollywwod bank shoot-out, only buckshot loaded 12 ga's?
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