Columbine Massacre
Parents Want
'Lying Sheriff' Sacked
By James Langton in Littleton, Colorado
The Telegraph - London
Embittered parents are campaigning for the dismissal of the sheriff investigating the Columbine High School massacre in which a teacher and 12 students were shot dead by two fellow pupils who then turned the guns on themselves.
Unhappy with police conduct before and after the killing spree, which was carried out by teenagers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold almost a year ago, a parents' group has begun proceedings to strip John Stone, an elected official, of his sheriff's badge. Signatures are being collected for a petition that could force him from office.
The efforts are being led by Randy and Judy Brown, whose teenage son Brooks was under a cloud of suspicion for much of last year. Sheriff Stone announced soon after the murders that he suspected the boy was linked to the killers. Brooks was cleared in December of any involvement.
Before the murders the Browns had complained to the police about a web site set up by Harris which was filled with violent fantasies. They say that Harris had threatened to kill their son, but that the evidence was ignored by police officers.
Mr Brown says that Sheriff Stone "lied about my son being a potential suspect" and he complains about "a pattern of misrepresentations the sheriff has made about Columbine". He said: "It is time to do something." To succeed, the petition must gain support from at least a quarter of 61,000 voters who originally backed Mr Stone.
Critics of the sheriff, who refuses to comment on attempts to remove him from office, are also questioning a delay in the release of a 300-page official report into the massacre originally due to be published before Christmas. A spokesman for the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department, which covers Littleton, says that "very optimistically" the report could be published within the next six to eight weeks.
Some details of the events of 20 April, 1999 have been leaked to the press, angering parents still further. Transcripts of homemade video tapes made by Klebold and Harris justifying their actions were shown by police to Time magazine which then published extracts. Sheriff Stone says that Time broke a promise not to reveal their contents, an assurance which the magazine says it was never asked to give.
The report is expected to show that Klebold and Harris had amassed far more homemade explosive than first suspected and planned to destroy the entire school. Superficially, normality has returned to Columbine High. The library, where many of the murders took place, has been sealed, the bullet holes covered up and shattered windows repaired.
The mild weather in Denver last week cleared the snow from the sport pitches and allowed the Columbine lacrosse teams to begin training. But dozens of pupils are still receiving counselling and psychiatric help for the traumas of the murders, while others have been withdrawn from the school.
Events have also conspired to keep memories fresh. The school has been shut down on several occasions because of bomb threats, while two pupils were murdered barely a fortnight ago in a local sandwich shop. Police believe that the killings may be related to drugs.
The most traumatic moments since the massacre may be still to come. A temporary restraining order preventing the release of the video confessions was granted to the parents of Klebold and a woman mentioned in the tapes but is due to be reconsidered this week.
If the judge changes his mind, television companies are ready for a bidding war to show the Columbine killers in their own words.


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