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Friday, April 23, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 64, Issue 137

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Students sound off on school shootings
Columbine slayings cause UH community to wonder who's to blame

By Kim Kovar
Daily Cougar Staff

Only one thing could shift the crisis in Kosovo to the backburner for both the American media and public: tragedy here at home.

The deadliest school shooting in United States history, and the 10th such shooting in three years, occurred Tuesday at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo.

Trenchcoat-wearing students Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, burst into the school with two sawed-off shotguns, one handgun, a carbine rifle and ammunition belts. They left 15 victims -- including 13 students, one teacher and themselves — dead, and as many wounded, in their wake. As many as 30 homemade explosive devices were found in and around the school.

All the bodies have now been removed from the school, the investigation has begun and the memorial services continue as the nation reacts, struggling to find sufficient reasons for the slaughter.

At UH, student opinion about who is to blame for the incident varies.

Some students placed blame on the pair's parents.

"Everyone's trying to figure out 'What's wrong? What's wrong?' It all boils down to 'Who's at fault?'" said Roderick Jackson, junior information systems technology major. "A lot of it is the fault of the parents (of the gunmen)."

Junior communication major Lori Mitchell said other outside influences could have been factors as well. "It's a little bit of everything -- how they watched the movie Natural Born Killers over and over -- but it starts from the parents," she said.

Communication freshman Eboni Crite agreed. "The parents should have been involved in their children's lives more," Crite said. "There probably were warning signs, and they obviously should have seen them."

But other students said the parents of the killers cannot be held responsible.

"It comes to a certain point where parents can't make a child's decisions for them," sophomore communication major Stefanie Max said. "It's natural for kids to want to rebel."

Freshman biology/philosophy major Marissa De Los Santos agreed, saying that the gunmen were "old enough to know right from wrong."

However, she worried how this incident will affect students who are perceived, as the gunmen were, as "different" in school due to their actions or the way they dress.

"These are the kids that are gonna get the blame, and this is going to totally increase censorship when anyone tries to be different," she said.

Sophomore business major Geeta Gupta also said she believes the gunmen were responsible for their own actions. "It's sad that they killed themselves," she said. "Those poor parents don't even get an explanation."

"I was really shocked," Crite said. "If they wanted to commit suicide, they should have just done that, because now a lot of people are suffering."

Littleton authorities maintain that the victims were chosen at random, despite student eyewitnesses who reported that the gunmen uttered a racial slur as they shot an African-American student.

"I don't know if that's a rumor or what," said Jackson, who is African-American. "Still, that doesn't bother me as much as the whole incident itself."

Prevention of another such tragedy is on the minds of many.

"I think there should be metal detectors in all the schools," Mitchell said.

And, as the images of Columbine students running for their lives continue to bombard television viewers, perhaps no one reason will ever satisfy the public's need to understand the shooting.

"Here, the youth are allowed to do pretty much what they want," Jackson said. "It's just pitiful."

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