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 account of columbine

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eli27

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PostSubject: account of columbine   Fri Jan 01, 2016 3:47 pm

This was posted on tumblr:

My First Hand Account of April 20, 1999 (Massacre at Columbine High School)

The account of the Columbine High School shooting by a man that was there that day.  He has given me permission to share this here.

Hello. My name is Ryan Bigley and I’m a graduate of Columbine High School (Class of ‘02). Even though I’m now out of high school, I would still like to see a world where it’s safe to walk the hallways of your school and not have a fear of someone with a gun. Enough is enough, let’s make school a peaceful place again. I hope this is detailed enough, I have not edited this story since I wrote it down back in May of 1999, to keep my story the way it was unaltered. I apologize in advance for redundancies, run-ons, any other things that make this really long to read.
It started out as just another day. I woke up thinking to myself “I don’t want to go to school today”. But I convinced myself that I had to go to school, even thought I didn’t want to. So, I got up, got dressed and left. As soon as my dad dropped me off, I saw for the first time on the sign in front of the school saying “Good Luck Band”. I thought that was pretty cool considering that the band was heading to Kansas City that weekend.

My day started off normally. First period, I had Wind Symphony. I do remember one of my senior friends talking to somebody about how today was 4/20. He was talking about how that day was Hitler’s birthday. We were putting the final touches on our pieces for the Kansas City trip. As soon as we were done, the band teacher, Mr. Biskup, told us “Have a great day”. Second period, I had Concert band. That’s also the period we have daily announcements. I read on the screen “RNN (Rebel News Network) Daily Announcements 4:20/99” I watched announcements, and then warmed up my second instrument. That was just a normal period. Then third period came along. Right before it, I talked with my friend Pat Hume. We hardly talked that second semester, so it was one of those rare moments. Little did I know that it would be the last time for a while. Third period was my free period. I usually sat with two of my friends in the back of the cafeteria (right by the door where Dan Rohrbaugh held it and helped people out before getting shot) and we’d do homework, or just talk. That day, we decided to go up to the library instead of the cafeteria that day. So we took the back door out and up the concrete stairs (The same route that Lance Kirklin, Dan Rohrbaugh, and Sean Graves took before they were shot). After we got to the top of the stairs, we passed by where Rachel Scott and Richard Castaldo were shot. Then we took the doors where the shooters came in. And finally, walked into the library. We sat at the first table in the door, unknowingly that the library is where 12 people would be killed later that day. We sat at the table where 1 person was killed, and 5 others wounded. After we left the library when the period ended, me and my friend walked to geometry, which we both had together. My really good friend Kathy Carlston had that class right before me, so I always got to say hi to her before math. Fourth period was another normal period. We did some group work in geometry, nothing major. It was, however, the last time I would ever see another one of my good friends, Anthony Shoels. His brother, Isaiah was killed in the library. After the shootings, I never saw him again. After fourth period was let out, I walked directly to my science room, unknowingly I’d be there for the next 4 hours.

At around 11:21 am, My science teacher, Mrs. Mosier, was going through her everyday lecture, when we heard something weird. It sounded like a stampede and there were people screaming. Then, a young boy runs in and says “I’m hiding in here. There’s a kid out there with a gun. For real.” And of course, we went into a panic, and Mrs. Mosier tried to keep everyone calm. Then we heard the first shot. It sounded like a big “BOOM”. Then the fire alarm went off. So, we assume that there’s a fire in the building, so Mrs. Mosier tries to lead us out the back door (there were two doors, one that leads to the main hall, and one that leads down the science hallway), then we heard another gunshot, so Mrs. Mosier kept us inside the room. Then we heard a really big “BOOM” (pipe bomb? shotgun?) so we immediately get under tables and toward the front of the room away from the windows. I don’t know if she knows it, but she probably saved our lives with that decision. When I got back inside, I was one of 7 people cramped under a science table trying to avoid the windows. One of the scariest parts of that, was that I had my back to the window at that time, so I constantly looked over my shoulder at the windows to be sure that the shooters weren’t looking in the windows. During that time, the shots continued, we felt explosions of pipe bombs downstairs push us up off of the floor and vibrate the floor, and the fire alarm was still blaring. After a half an hour, the shots died down, but then, we heard another shot, and we all cramped again under the table away from the windows. After one hour, the final (shot? explosion?) was heard and we stayed cramped under the table. While cramped under that table, an ironic thing happened. I heard that Cassie Bernall (one of the students killed) was asked if she believed in God, and she said “Yes”, well, a girl I know, Jacquie Baker, asked me the exact same question. “Do you believe in God?” I replied, just like Cassie “Yes, I believe in God”. I found that kind of ironic. (I also found out later that it was not Cassie Bernall that said Yes, but Valeen Schnurr said the now infamous word).

After about an hour and a half since the shootings began, the gunfire/explosions finally were not heard anymore, yet we still stayed cramped under the table, not to take any chances. During that time, I started to worry about my friends. Mostly about the ones who had A lunch (the time period when this happened). One in particular, Kathy Carlston. I’ve been really good friends with her since 7th grade, and she had A lunch. I didn’t know where she was, and I got really worried about her. She’s also over 6 feet tall so she could have made an easy target. I eventually heard from her about 4 days after the shooting, and she told me her story. She ran up the stairs and into a science room, the science room Mr. Sanders was in. She was pretty traumatized after that, but she made it out ok. After about two hours, we didn’t hear anything but the fire alarm, so we were getting a little impacient. Mrs. Mosier told all of us that if it gets too long, we’ll call the office and we’ll work something out. But, I was getting back pains being cramped under the table, so I got out from under the table and stretched. Then I laid down along the floor, but still away from the doors.

I got really bored, so I got into a conversation with one of my friends Mike Mallon who was at the front of the room. At about 1:40 pm, the fire alarm finally stopped blaring, and the passing period bell went off, and it never stopped. We got aggravated with the constant “DING, DING, DING, DING, DING etc.” and then we got even more impatient. So, Mrs. Mosier called her husband, who also worked at the school. She asked what the bell was about. After she got off of the phone, she said, “We just need to sit tight, we can turn on the tv, but we need to stay quiet, and Mr. Sanders isn’t doing too well.” With that, a lot of us got a little uneasy.

Mrs. Mosier told me and another guy to look out the window and see if we see anything. All we saw was the flashing strobe lights from the fire alarms. We didn’t see anything else. Mrs. Mosier turned on her radio, and it had intensive coverage of the shooting and it told us that there were up to 13-14 people injured or killed, and with that, a lot of us (including me) started to get uneasy and eventually cry. From our classroom, we could hear helicopters fly over the school and we could see the copter-cam from the tv. And we also saw Patrick Ireland fall out of the window to safety and we were all worried that he would get out alright because he looked terrible.

At about 3:00, we heard the SWAT team down the hallway say stuff like “OPEN THE DOOR NOW!” “BREAK DOWN THE DOOR!!” GET OUT WITH YOUR HANDS UP!!“ We knew that we weren’t going to mess with them. At about 3:10, a SWAT team member screamed at our door “OPEN THE DOOR AND GET YOUR HANDS UP!!” Mrs. Mosier got up and went to the door and opened it. And since we saw people evacuate the building with their hands up, that was our natural reaction to that. When the SWAT team member came into the room, he was like “Ok. Here’s what we’re gonna do. That’s ok, you can put your hands down now.” Then he asked “Are there any suspects in here?” There weren’t any that we knew of, so we replied no. Then he explained that we would be evacuated in groups of 10, keep your hands on your head, and if you hear any gunfire, your butt is concrete (which means, get your butt to the ground.) So, at about 3:15, the order was given to evacuate that room. As soon as I got out, I ran to right outside my room, then I was searched. Then I was told to move on down the hall and then I was searched again. Then I was told to just relax for a minute in the middle hallway. As soon as the rest of my class was out, I was ordered to get my hands on my head and run down the hallway, up the back hallway, to the exit down the Social Studies hallway. I was one of the first people to be out, but I was also ordered again to put my hands on the wall and was about to be searched for a third time, but they just told us to run across the street. But as I exited the building, the light of the sun nearly blinded me after 4 hours of darkness, but it was a great feeling to see the light of day one more time. Then I was ordered with the rest of my class to run from there to a SWAT team van parked across the street where I was searched for a third time. I later learned that a picture was taken of me and my class running from the school was published in NewsWeek, the Denver Post, and months later, in a Guns N’ Roses music video (it was a remake of “Welcome To The Jungle” that had coverage of Columbine, along with other infamous news acts of the 90’s, like Oklahoma City, etc.. but then they stopped showing it when some parents of Columbine petitioned to take it off the air). In all three accounts, I am clearly seen, with my hands on my head and a concerned look on my face.

When the officer who checked me said I was clear, I had an immediate feeling that it was all over, and I’m out of there. So, we were ordered to climb through a hole in a fence that led to a bus that transported us to a nearby elementary school. That’s where I met up with some friends and more importantly, my parents. One of the very first of my friends that I met up with was Jamie Kettlewell. She was in my english class that semester. I talked to her from the bus I was in. She asked me if I was alright and if I had seen two of her friends. I said that one of them was on the bus, but I didn’t see the other one. After that, I was ordered to get off the bus, given instructions on where to go, and I got off. I walked across the parking lot and into the building where they took my name. Then I walked up the stairs where the took my name again. Then I walked across the stage in the school auditorium, and at the other end, I looked out into the swarm of people and saw my parents. They waved at me, and I waved back. It was good to see that my parents knew I was okay.

We were taken to a comforting room with the rest of the students. I sat down with my friends Bryan Adams, Mike Mallon, and Seth Friedman. The first thing we said to each other is “We made it. We’re out of there”. A counselor came and talked to us for a while. In that room, I looked for some of my friends. I eventually saw my very good friend Nick Bowlin. As I went to go meet up with him, I saw another one of my upperclassmen friends Carly Witt. She was very glad to see me and then asked if I had seen her best friend Michelle Markert, and I told her “Yes, she’s here. I was under the table with her”. I pointed to where she was and she pretty much shoved people out of the way to meet up with her. That was very emotional. I met up with Nick and we were both glad to see each other. After about 5 minutes, we were allowed to go meet up with our parents after we signed out. I signed out, went up on the stage, walked around the gym looking for my parents, and the first person I met up with was a good friend of my dad, Jim Schneider. His daughter Noel was fine and he stayed only because he knew that his friends kids were still in there and he was the first person to inform my parents that I was alright. I walked out into the hallway looking for my parents, I found them, ran up to them and without telling them, I gave them a really really big hug because I was so glad to see them. After that, I had to sign out again, then I was free to go.

I wanted to stay and meet up with my friends. I saw a few, including Nathan Hochhalter, whose sister Anne Marie was seriously injured in the shooting. After that, I got ready to leave, and saw the accounted for list. I looked and saw my name. One name I unfortunatly didn’t see on the accounted for list, was Kathy Carlston. That made me so worried for her now. I saw that her sister Liz made it out ok, but I didn’t see Kathy’s name. That made me very worried. But, I eventually left, and saw Bryan Adams again and waved at him. I saw very many hugs, tears, and emotional reunions. On the ride home, I heard on the radio from the head police officer something I did not want to hear at all. “We do have some fatalities”. When I heard that, I knew that Kathy could have been killed. I didn’t see her on the accounted for list, and now I know people were killed. As soon as I got home, there were 12 messages on my answering machine, all of them from people worried about me. I watched tv all night until midnight wanting to know the list of people killed or injured. After 4 days, I heard from every single one of my friends, including Kathy which made me happy to know that she got out okay. Kathy ended up in Science Room 3, which happened to be the same room that Dave Sanders was pulled to after he was shot. She was a bit shaken from the event, but I think she was okay after it was over.

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sororityalpha

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PostSubject: Re: account of columbine   Fri Jan 01, 2016 6:40 pm

Thank you for the post

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PostSubject: Re: account of columbine   Fri Jan 01, 2016 7:23 pm

His friend Kathy Carlston made AMA on Reddit: [You must be registered and logged in to see this link.]

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PostSubject: Re: account of columbine   Fri Jan 01, 2016 7:25 pm

The whole time I was reading this I was wondering if it was a boy or girl telling the story. I must have completely missed where it said it was a guy named 'Ryan'.

A very interesting story with great detail. Thanks for sharing.

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