Dateline   |  July 21, 2012

Columbine survivor speaks on Aurora shooting

Craig Scott, a survivor of the notorious shooting at Columbine High School in 1999 that killed twelve students and one teacher, speaks to NBC News' Ann Curry about the recent shooting in Aurora, Colorado and what the victims' loved ones might be facing.

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> there is another colorado community that knows only too well what aurora is going through tonight. it was a little more than 15 miles away in littleton where 12 students and one teacher died at columbine high school in 1999 . and a survivor of that tragedy understands what the victims' loved ones are facing here. it has been more than 13 years since craig scott found himself frozen with fear on the library floor during the shooting rampage at columbine high school . craig survived. his sister rachel did not.

>> i found out the next morning it was confirmed she was dead.

>> the nation met craig , then a 16-year-old sophomore, two days after the massacre, when he appeared on the "today" show.

>> my sister was a real person. she really had a lot of ambition and i loved her a lot.

>> in the year following rachel 's murder, "dateline" spent time with craig and his family as they tried to cope with their immeasurable loss.

>> i didn't get to say good-bye to her. physically. i didn't say anything when she dropped me off at school.

>> in public, craig displayed courage as he traveled across the country, sharing his story with thousands of students. but privately he was haunted by terrifying flashbacks, especially after dark. using a handheld camera in the spring of 2000 , craig chronicled a desperate attempt to escape his nightmares.

>> i'm up here on the top of my roof. got a knife for protection.

>> reporter: the lowest point came soon after other cameras left. craig and his brother michael were watching a movie on tv, a violent screen triggered another flashback and craig snapped.

>> the next thing i knew, i picked my little brother , who i love, i carried him to the kitchen, slammed him against the kitchen floor, i pulled out a knife and put it in front of his face and said, do you want to know what it feels like to almost lose your life?

>> reporter: it was a terrifying moment, but also a turning point in craig 's life. he decided he had to let go of his anger. the first step was also the hardest. forgiving rachel 's killers.

>> forgiveness was like setting a prisoner free and then finding out that prisoner is you. columbine was the worst day of my life. but now looking back, i can be almost thankful in a way for going through such a hard thing because it made me who i am today.

>> craig scott now joins us. thank you so much for being here, craig . what does it take for people to overcome, to recover from a tragedy such as this one?

>> well, i think that it definitely takes a lot of time. for me it took i think ten years to really get back to a real place, i still miss my sister, but i have friends that were there. some of them are still going through a lot of healing and still has a long ways to go. it really is a long process. but i do think that there are things that can help in the healing process . i think that i was blessed enough to have family and faith to surround me. i think people stepping in from the community, i mean, i remember my mom having to look after me and deal with the loss of her daughter and people, neighbors bringing meals. i think that remembering the loved ones and remembering the good things about rachel , the good things she did, focusing on something positive. i think there is going to be people that are going to be real angry and will want to do something with that anger and i hope they can channel it to something that is positive. i know, for me, for years, i held on to such hatred toward the shooters. they had no right to do what they did, killed innocent people, did them no harm, and it started to really take a toll on me and affect the way i treated people as i carried around that anger and so part of my healing process was forgiving and letting go.

>> forgiving.

>> it is -- it is -- i'm not -- i'm just talking about my healing process and i think that it is not saying what someone did is okay, it is a letting go of so that you can be moved on. there is a quote that forgiveness is like setting a prisoner free and then finding out that prisoner is you. and i felt like i was that prisoner and that was part of my process. being able to -- for those that have faith, i grew deeper in that, that was part of my healing process . one of the biggest things that helped me get through was just seeing something good come from losing my friends and losing my sister and going through and i truly hoped what happened here in a minute in this theater, that there can be some amazing, immense good, positive things, movement, something that can come out of this. and i hope that the people that went through this can become unified, don't let this shooter steal anything from you. and so that's -- that would be my input.

>> thank you so much this evening. nice to see you.

>> thank you.

>> before we go, we want to tell you that aurora's police chief held a news conference tonight where he revised the number of injured down to 58, the death toll still remains at 12. the number of people -- a number of people are still in critical conditions all in hospitals all around colorado. there are reports that james holmes dyed his hair red and called himself the joker but he's not talking so we don't know if he has a connection to the batman franchise or anything else. there is a lot more to report on this. we'll be reporting on it throughout the day tomorrow, including on the "today" show. that is it for this edition of "dateline" friday. good night and thank you for joining us.