In their first interview since the Columbine High School massacre, the parents of one of the killers said they feel no need be forgiven and didn’t realize their son was beyond hope until after he was dead.
“Dylan (Klebold) did not do this because of the way he was raised,” Susan Klebold told columnist David Brooks in Saturday’s editions of The New York Times. “He did it in contradiction to the way he was raised.”
Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris killed 13 people on April 20, 1999, before taking their own lives.
The couple took issue with people who say they forgive them for what happened.
“I haven’t done anything for which I need forgiveness,” Susan Klebold said.
They acknowledged they missed signs that their son was in trouble. Klebold and Harris were in a juvenile diversion program for breaking into a van and stealing tools and other items in January 1998.
'Toxic culture' blamed
“He was hopeless. We didn’t realize it until after the end,” Tom Klebold said.
“I think he suffered horribly before he died,” Susan Klebold said. “For not seeing that, I will never forgive myself.”
The couple said they felt under siege after the shooting and never had a chance to grieve for their son.
Tom Klebold said they hope to understand someday why the shooting happened.
“We’re not qualified to sort this out. People need to understand this could have happened to them,” he said.
The Klebolds said their son was set off by the “toxic culture” of the school, where athletes were worshipped and bullying was tolerated.
Jefferson County Public Schools officials have consistently denied that bullying was tolerated or that athletes received special treatment.
Victim's parents react
The Klebolds’ comments was criticized late Saturday by some of the victims’ parents.
“I’m horrified,” Dawn Anna, whose daughter Lauren Townsend was killed at Columbine, told The Associated Press. “I wanted an apology. I wanted a contribution to help us understand why it happened, so that it would never happen again. I didn’t hear it.”
Brian Rohrbough, father of victim Daniel Rohrbough, said he was outraged that the Klebolds likened the day of the shootings to a natural disaster in the interview with Brooks.
“This was murder,” he said. “In my opinion, what went on in their home led to Columbine.”
Brooks said the Klebolds agreed to the interview after an exchange of e-mails initiated by Tom Klebold, who was angered by Brooks’ April 24 column. Brooks’column did not say when and where the interview took place.
In the April 24 column, Brooks had paraphrased an article in the online publication Slate that said Harris and Klebold yearned to become the most prolific mass murders in history.
The Klebolds’ attorney, Gary Lozow, told The Denver Post the Klebolds had no plans to grant any other interviews.
In a story for Sunday’s editions of The Post, Lozow related the first moments after the Klebolds learned of the shooting.
They had heard the gunmen may have been part of the Trench Coat Mafia, a loose group of students, including their son, who said athletes at Columbine bullied them.
“When early word came that the Trench Coat Mafia may be involved in the shooting, Tom ran downstairs to look for Dylan’s trench coat, which he couldn’t find,” Lozow said.
“He was afraid Dylan might be involved. So he called me and offered to go to the school in hopes of negotiating with Dylan. It wasn’t accepted.”
Harris’ parents, Wayne and Kathy Harris, have never spoken to reporters.
After-hours phone calls to Times officials were not returned, and Brooks did not immediately respond to an e-mail request for comment.