On the morning of Tuesday, April 20, 1999, Harris and Klebold placed a small fire bomb in a field about three miles south of Columbine High School, and two miles south of the fire station. Set to explode at 11:14 a.m., the bomb was a diversion to draw firefighters and emergency personnel away from the school. (It partially detonated and caused a small fire, which was quickly extinguished by the fire department.)
Harris and Klebold arrived at the school in separate cars and placed two 20-pound propane bombs in the canteen. They returned to their cars to wait for the explosion, which did not occur.
A witness heard Eric Harris yell “Go! Go!” The two gunmen pulled their guns from beneath their trenchcoats and began shooting at two 17-year-old students who had been sitting in the grass next to the West Entrance of the school. Rachel Scott was hit four times and killed instantly. Richard Castaldo was shot eight times in the chest, arm and abdomen and paralyzed below the chest. It is unknown who fired first or which gunman shot and killed Scott.
The custodian called Deputy Neil Gardner on the school radio, requesting assistance in the Senior parking lot. The only paved route took him around the school to the east and south on Pierce Street, where, at 11:23 he heard on his police radio that a female was down, struck by a car, he assumed. He turned on his lights and siren. While exiting his patrol car in the Senior lot at 11:24, he heard another call on the school radio, “Neil, there’s a shooter in the school”. Harris, at the West Entrance, immediately fired his rifle at Gardner, who was sixty yards away. Gardner returned fire with his service pistol. He was not wearing his prescription eyeglasses, and was unable to hit the shooters.
Patti Nielson talked on the phone with emergency services, telling her story and urging students to take cover beneath desks.
Harris and Klebold entered the library, where a total of 52 students, two teachers and two librarians had concealed themselves. Harris yelled, “Get up!,” in a tone so loud that he can be heard on Patti Nielson’s 9-1-1 recording at 11:29:18. Klebold yelled, “Everybody get up!”
They had killed 10 people in the library and wounded 12. Of the 56 library hostagees, 34 remained unharmed. The shooters had enough ammunition to have killed them all. For the next 32 minutes, Harris and Klebold wandered the building, firing guns and setting off bombs, but causing no further injury.
Harris and Klebold re-entered the library, which was empty of surviving students except the unconscious Patrick Ireland and the injured Lisa Kreutz. Once inside, they shot at police through the west windows but did not hit anyone.
Patti Nielson, who had locked herself inside a break room with a student and library staff, overheard Harris and Klebold suddenly shout in unison: “One! Two! Three!” These words were followed by the sound of gunfire. Both had committed suicide: Harris by firing his shotgun through the roof of his mouth; Klebold by shooting himself in the left temple with his TEC-9 semi-automatic handgun.
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