The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas on April 28, 2001 · Page 3
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The Salina Journal from Salina, Kansas · Page 3

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Salina, Kansas
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Saturday, April 28, 2001
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Page 3
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THE SALINA JOURNAL COLUMBIIUE SATURDAY, APRIL 28, 2001 .A3 REVIEW COMMISSION Review criticizes autliorities 'Massive amount of facts' ignored prior to incident, review says By TIFFANY MEREDITH The Associated Press GOLDEN, Colo. — The chairman of the Columbine Review Commission said Friday that authorities ignored warnings of the high school attack and responded improperly after it began. "There was a massive amount of facts that would allow any ordinary person to know an attack was coming," William Erickson said Friday at the final meeting of the Governor's Columbine Review T LAWSUITS Commission. Erickson, a retired Colorado Supreme Court justice, previously has said a law enforcement policy in effect at the time of the attack was one reason police didn't try to storm the school and stop the killers. On Friday, Erickson emphasized the commission's role was not to assign blame but to chronicle the attack and recommend ways to prevent similar tragedies. "It is not our endeavor to condemn any action taken by any agency," he said. The- panel, formed a few months after the April 1999 massacre, is scheduled to release its report May 17 to Gov. Bill Owens. Students Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris opened fire and set off bombs at Columbine on April 20, 1999, killing 12 classmates and a teacher and wounding 26 before committing suicide in the school library Erickson said authorities improperly used a perimeter technique at Columbine, which was typical for situations such as a bank robbery involving hostages. By establishing a ring of officers around the school, authorities forced Harris and Klebold back inside, where they "went about unfettered as no one approached them or prevented them from carrying out their systematic shootings." The sheriff's department has since changed its training, and deputies are now taught to respond to situations like Columbine by going after an attacker rather than waiting for help. Erickson mentioned as warning signs Harris' violent rant- ings on the Internet and pipe bombs found near his house a year before the attack, and a violent essay written by Klebold. "We had all this information and nobody acted on it," he said. School Superintendent .Jane Hammond defended the district's actions to the commis- , sioners, saying educators had no way of knowing Harris and Klebold were capable of such a crime. Sheriff's attorneys invoke immunity Authorities' attorneys asl< judge to dismiss suits filed by victims By The Associated Press DENVER — Attorneys asked a federal judge on Friday to dismiss suits filed by victims' families because law officers and educators should not be liable for their actions during tHe Columbine High School massacre. "It's not fair to second-guess with the perfect vision of hindsight," said Assistant County Attorney Bill Tuthill, representing the Jefferson County sheriff's department. Families of students killed or wounded in the 1999 attack hjive filed nine lawsuits against the sheriff's department, school officials and oth- ecs, saying they should have done more to prevent the at- ta:ck and bungled their response to it. !Eric Harris and Dylan Kle­ bold shot and killed 12 students and a teacher and injured more than two dozen others before taking their own lives. Tuthill argued sheriff's officers are protected by governmental immunity and that they did nothing to put the victims in danger An attorney for the family of Valeen Schnurr, who was wounded in the Columbine library, argued the officers bore responsibility because they ordered students not to leave the library, where most of the victims died. "Those children in the library had one means of defense, and that was flight. And they, were told to stay put," Philip Gordon said. Stu Stuller, an attorney for Jefferson County Public Schools, argued that the district also has immunity "The plaintiffs are trying to attribute the evil of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold to these teachers. There's no evil in be­ ing hoodwinked by evil," he said. Last week, nearly three dozen families of Columbine victims agreed to a $2.5 million settlement in suits against the gunmen's parents and two men who provided a handgun the killers used. Also Friday the chairman of the Governor's Columbine Review Commission criticized law officers' tactics during the attack and said warning signs were ignored. The commission's report will be presented to Gov. Bill Owens on May 17. Water Treatment Specialists SmoUy Hills Piitlic Television welcomes Jim and Kale Leiirer lo Saliiia for tlie Salina : PuUic Liln-ary's 2ncl Annual NovelKaneas. Mike 658 E. 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