قالب وردپرس درنا توس
Home / US / Columbine Principal reflects the "worst nightmare" 19 years after shooting

Columbine Principal reflects the "worst nightmare" 19 years after shooting



"Nobody ever thought it would happen at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, but hopefully people around the country, across the state, will realize it can happen at their school."

Those were the deterrent words at the time – the director of Columbine High School, Frank DeAngelis, told ABC News just days after the massacre of April 20, 1999, when two students opened fire on the school and 12 of their classmates and one Teachers killed themselves.

Since then, countless school shootings have developed, including the deadly massacre in Parkland, Florida, in February and a shoot-out at a Maryland High School in March this year.

Now, in the context of the 1

9th anniversary of the mass shooting, DeAngelis reflects on the tragic day that changed him and what his message is for the high school students leading the new push for weapons reform.

"My worst nightmare became reality"

<img src = "https://s.abcnews.com/images/US/columbine-shooting1999-gty-hb-180417_hpEmbed_19x12_992.jpg" border = "0" width = "640" height = "480" alt = "PHOTO: Students ran out of Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, when two armed men went on a shootout and killed fifteen, including themselves, April 20, 1999. [19659007] Steve Starr / Getty Images
Students race from Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, when two armed men went on a shootout and killed fifteen, including themselves, April 20, 1999.

April 20, 1999 , was a "beautiful spring day", 70 degrees with a blue sky, said DeAngelis.

He said he was in his office when "my secretary comes in and says there is a shootout."

DeAngelis said his first reaction was a senior strike – an actual shooting "can not happen at Columbine."

"When I ran out of my office, my worst nightmare became a reality," DeAngelis said. I clearly see what he was wearing, with the baseball cap turned back and a white T-shirt, a black vest, I remember the gun – a long gun. "

At that moment, a group of at least 20 girls came out of a locker room to go to physical education.

"They were in the middle of the crossfire, so I ran down to them and down a side corridor to escape the shooter," he said. "As I approached high school – the door was locked – so the girls were panicking … the sound of the shots coming closer."

  PHOTO: Students from Columbine High School, Littleton, Colorado, observe the last of their classmates being evacuated from the school after a shooting on April 20, 1999. Mark Leffingwell / AFP / Getty Images
Students at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, watched as the last of their classmates were evacuated from the school building after a shootout at school

DeAngelis told his bag and He pulled out his keyring with 35 keys – miraculously, for the first time, he grabbed the right key, which opened the door on the first try.

He went outside and saw officers arriving, so he came back in to help her bring this group of girls to safety. DeAngelis said he wanted to go back into the building to help others, but "at the time, they really backed the building – they would not allow anyone to go in there until SWAT got there." What was really frustrating, I think, for the first answering officials, because the protocol should secure the scope. "

That night, DeAngelis and a bereavement counselor agreed to tell the waiting parents, "It's a good chance their children were killed in school that day, which was one of the most devastating things I've ever had had to do. "

  PHOTO: The scene at Columbine High School in Colorado, April 24, 1999, in the days following the massacre on April 20, 1999. RameyPix / Getty Images
The scene at Columbine High School in Colorado, April 24, 1999, in the days following the massacre of April 20, 1999.

"I probably needed Columbine more than I needed."

That night, when DeAngelis tried to think about what he was saying would the congregation the next day, "I really questioned my faith a little and said, how could that happen?"

Days later, a local church leader told him that he had survived for a reason and that he should focus on rebuilding the community. He said, "It was so important to spiritualize things spiritually for me."

  PHOTO: Mourners gather on April 25, 1999 in Littleton, Colorado, to commemorate the victims of Columbine High School, where two teenagers shot 12 students and one teacher before they killed themselves. David Glove / NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images
Mourners gather in Littleton, Colorado on April 25, 1999 to commemorate the victims of Columbine High School, where two teenagers shot 12 students and one teacher, Before Killing Himself

On his way to rebuilding, he said he initially pledged to remain as director until the students who had risen during the filming of the freshman year graduated in 2002.

"But I've always thought that I would not build this community where it needs to be," DeAngelis said, and then he decided, "up to every kid in the Columbine Zone [at the time of the shooting] … graduated from high school and that led me through 2012. "

He said he was ready to retire when a parent asked him to stay and tell him that her child was in preschool at the time of shooting.

  PHOTO: A large crowd circles around an angel of snow, killed during a commemoration on April 25, 1999 in memory of the students who were shot dead on April 20, 1999, in Columbine High School, Littleton, Colorado Leaving Flowers Mark Leffingwell / AFP / Getty Images
A large crowd circling around an angel of snow during a memorial service on April 25, 1999 in memory of the shooting of Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado on April 20, 1999.

"I stayed until 2014, which would have been 15 years after the tragedy," he said. "So all the kids who were in elementary school graduated, and we had kids who came to Columbine now who were not even born when the tragedy happened."

After 18 years as headmaster, he retired in 2014 after feeling committed to healing the community.

But, DeAngelis added, in those years "I probably needed Columbine more than I needed."

  PHOTO: Ryan Foreman of the Denver South Metro Fire Department, visits a memorial to the victims of Columbine High School's tragedy at Clement Park, April 30, 1999. Steve Peterson / Getty Images
Ryan Foreman of Denver South Metro Fire Department, visited a memorial to the victims of the Columbine High School Tragedy in Clement Park, April 30, 1999.

Banding Together

But Columbine was no anomaly. In the following 19 years, from Virginia Tech to Sandy Hook, school shootings continued to kill students and employees in American elementary schools, high schools and universities.

For DeAngelis, these shootings create an unfortunate connection with principals across the country.

  PHOTO: Students gather on their football field during a 17-minute strike at the Stivers School for the Arts on March 14, 2018 in Dayton, Ohio.
DIASHOW: PHOTOS: National School Walkout

It was not until this year that DeAngelis was in contact with the leaders of high schools in Kentucky, Maryland and Florida, where all students were gunned down.

With the director of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Florida, where 17 students and staff were murdered in February 17, he said that he had discussed what problems the school could face in the short and long terms. How do you deal with going to school for the first time? And prom? And graduation? How do you help the seniors to say goodbye? What can you do for the new group of freshmen next year?

In the midst of their grief, the students who survived the Douglas Stoneman massacre have joined forces to inspire a new student-led drive to reform weapons, with nationwide events such as early school leavers and the march for our life rallies.

Participants in the nationwide strike on March 14 included students from Columbine University who were not born at the time of the massacre.

  PHOTO: Columbine High School Leader Leah Zunder signals the 17 students and staff attending Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, Littleton, on March 14 during a National School walk-through. Colorado, were killed. 2018. Rick Wilking / Reuters
Columbine High School Leah Zunder holds a note during a National School walkout to honor the 17 students and staff working at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. were killed in Littleton. Colo., March 14, 2018.
  PHOTO: Students carry a poster during a student riot to protest gun violence on the football field beyond Columbine High School on March 14, 2018 in Littleton, Colorado. David Zalubowski / AP
Students carry placards during a student run-out to protest gun violence on the football field behind Columbine High School on March 14, 2018 in Littleton, Colorado.

The next nationwide strike is this Friday at the Columbine anniversary. Connecticut organizes more than 2,000 events that are organized across the country.

DeAngelis said he encouraged massive student-led movements, but said more needed to be done.

He said he wanted stricter gun laws, but stressed that other "pieces of the puzzle" needed to be addressed, such as mental health, the impact of social media, and parental involvement.

  PHOTO: Columbine High School student Andrew Pavicich ties a commemorative ribbon on the fence in front of the school during a national school walkout in honor of 17 students and staff killed at Marjory Stoneman's Douglas High School, March 14, 2018. Rick Wilking / Reuters
Columbine High School student Andrew Pavicich ties a commemorative ribbon on the fence outside the school during a National School walkout to honor the 17 students and staff of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School on March 14, 2018 , 19659009] "The way you change some laws, you have to change the officials," he said, encouraging young people to study and choose politics and platforms.

At the moment, however, DeAngelis is still hopeful that people will address his words to ABC News immediately after the Columbine massacre.

"It could happen in any school in this state or any school in that nation," he said. "No one is protected from a disaster like this, and I hope people will learn from it."


Source link