As a sophomore at Columbine High School seven years ago, Marjorie Lindholm was a cheerleader with a 3-plus grade-point average who wanted to become a doctor.
Her life changed dramatically when the killing spree began on April 20, 1999. Lindholm found herself locked in a classroom with other students and a teacher, Dave Sanders. She was there for four hours as Sanders and 12 classmates were gunned down by students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, who shot and killed themselves.
Now 24, Lindholm believes she has only recently begun to heal. Writing a book, “A Columbine Survivor’s Story,” with her mother has helped, she said.
Many survivors have moved on after the deadliest school shooting in the nation’s history. But for others, it has been more difficult.
Sean Graves was shot four times and paralyzed from the waist down. The father of Mark Taylor, who was hit by more than a dozen bullets, left his family in 2001 after 34 years of marriage. Anne Marie Hochhalter’s mother killed herself 18 months after the massacre, which left her daughter paralyzed from the waist down.
Brooks Brown, a friend of the two killers, was briefly named a suspect by authorities, outraging family members who had reportedly tried to warn sheriff’s deputies that Harris had threatened Brooks and was building bombs. Brown said he is now doing well, running a small video production company.
And there are others.
Columbine Principal Frank DeAngelis went through a divorce after throwing himself into his work, but is now engaged to his high school sweetheart.
In her book, Lindholm recounts her memories of April 20, 1999.
“Within seconds, the whole building began to shake, and I heard the unmistakable sound of gunshots and extremely loud screaming,” she wrote. “The gunfire was so loud that it didn’t seem like normal guns could make that much noise.”
Memories of horror
About 20 students and teachers took shelter in the science classroom two doors down from the library, where most of the killing was done.
Sanders, Lindholm’s typing teacher, was brought into the room with gunshot wounds to his neck and upper back. Students covered him in a blanket and took pictures of his family from his wallet and showed them to him, hoping to keep him conscious.
“I can’t breathe and I’m not going to make it,” he said, according to Lindholm’s recollection.
The rescue was as terrifying as the wait, with SWAT team members leading the students out at gunpoint, apparently unaware whether they were victims or assailants.
“Suddenly, we heard screaming from the adjacent science room. Men dressed in black and carrying guns rushed into our room and began screaming at us,” she wrote.
'But now I can talk about it'
After the shootings, Lindholm managed to get through her junior year but dropped out her senior year. Her family was falling apart. Two friends died.
Encouraged by her mother, Lindholm began keeping a journal. She and her mother, Peggy, began writing the book from those journals. The 102-page work was published last year by Regenold Publishing of Littleton.
Today, Lindholm plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree and attend pharmacy school. She is taking online courses at Arapahoe Community College. The pain is still there, however. Recently, she wept while visiting Chapel Hill Cemetery, where Sanders is buried.
“It’s still difficult,” she said. “But now I can talk about it.”