The Columbine crisis was never a hostage standoff. Eric and Dylan had no intentions of making demands. SWAT teams searched the building for over three hours, but the killers were lying dead the entire time. They had committed suicide in the library at 12:08, forty-nine minutes after beginning the attack. The killing and the terror had been real. The standoff had not. The SWAT teams discovered the truth around 3:15. They peered into the library and saw bodies scattered around the floor. No sign of movement. They cleared the entrance and prepared to enter. They took paramedic Troy Laman in with them. The SWAT team warned Laman to be cautious. Touch as little as possible, they said; anything could be booby-trapped. Be especially suspicious of backpacks. It was horrible. The room was a shambles; blood spattered the furniture, and enormous pools soaked into the carpet. The tabletops were oddly undisturbed: books open, calculus problems under way, a college application half-completed. A lifeless boy still held a pencil. Another had collapsed beside a PC, which was still running, undisturbed. Laman was tasked with determining whether anyone was alive. It didn't look like it. Most of the kids had been dead for nearly four hours, and it was obvious by sight. "If I couldn't get a look at somebody, at their face, to see if they were still alive, I tried to kind of touch them," Laman said. Twelve were cold. One was not. Laman touched a girl, felt the warmth, and rolled her over to get a look at her face. Her eyes were open, tears trickling out. Lisa Kreutz was carried down the stairs and rushed to Denver Health Medical Center. A gun blast had shattered her left shoulder. One hand and both arms were also injured. She had lost a lot of blood. She survived. Most of the bodies lay under tables. The victims had been attempting to hide. Two bodies were different. They lay out in the open, weapons by their sides. Suicides, clearly. The SWAT team had descriptions of Eric and Dylan. These two looked like a match. It was over. The team discovered four women hiding in back rooms attached to the library. Patti Nielson, the art teacher from the 911 call, had crept into a cupboard in the break room. She had squatted in the cupboard for three more hours, knees aching, unaware the danger had passed. Three other faculty hid farther back. An officer instructed one to put her hand on his shoulder and follow him out, staring directly at his helmet, to minimize exposure to the horror. It had been over how long? No one knew. With the fire alarm blaring, none of the staff had been close enough to hear. Detectives would piece it together eventually--how long the attack had lasted, and how long Eric and Dylan had killed. Those would turn out to be very different answers. Something peculiar had transpired seventeen minutes into the attack. ____ The investigation outpaced the SWAT teams. Detectives were combing the park, the library, Leawood Elementary, and the surrounding community. They interviewed hundreds of students and staff--everyone they could find. When waves of fresh survivors outnumbered police officers, they conducted thirty-to sixty-second triage interviews: Who are you? Where were you? What did you see? Friends of the killers and witnesses to bloodshed were identified quickly, and detectives were waved over for lengthier interviews. Lead investigator Kate Battan performed some interviews personally; she was briefed on the rest. Battan was intent on getting every detail right--and avoiding costly errors that might come back to haunt them later. "Everyone learned a lot from hearing about the O. J. Simpson case and JonBenet Ramsey," she said later. "We didn't need another situation like those." Her team also ran a simple search on Jeffco computer files and found something stunning. The shooters were already in the system. Eric and Dylan had been arrested junior year. They got caught breaking into a van to steal electronic equipment. They had entered a twelve-month juvenile Diversion program, performing community service and attending counseling. They'd completed the program with glowing reviews exactly ten weeks before the massacre. More disturbing was a complaint filed thirteen months earlier by Randy and Judy Brown, the parents of the shooters' friend Brooks. Eric had made death threats toward Brooks. Ten pages of murderous rants printed from his Web site had been compiled. Someone in Battan's department had known about this kid. Battan organized the information and composed a single-spaced six-page search warrant for Eric's home and a duplicate for Dylan's. She dictated them over the phone. The warrants were typed up in Golden, the county seat, delivered to a judge, signed, driven out to the killers' homes, and exercised within four hours of the first shots--before the SWAT team reached the library and discovered the attack was over. The warrants cited seven witnesses who'd identified Harris and/or Klebold as the gunmen. ____ Agent Fuselier heard about the bodies on the police radio at 3:20. He had just gotten word that his son Brian was OK. Mass murder meant a massive investigation. "How can I help?" Fuselier asked the Jeffco commanders. "Do you want federal agents?" Definitely, they said. Jeffco had a small detective team--there was no way it could handle the task. An hour later, eighteen evidence specialists began arriving. A dozen special agents would follow, along with half a dozen support staff. At 4:00 P.M., Jeffco went public about the fatalities. Chief spokesman Steve Davis called a press conference in Clement Park, with Sheriff Stone by his side. The pair had been briefing reporters all afternoon. Most of the press had never heard of either man, but consensus about them emerged quickly. Sheriff Stone was a straight shooter; he had a deep, gruff voice and classic western mentality: no hedging, no bluster, no bullshit. What a contrast to the blow-dried spokesman affixed to his side. Steve Davis began the conference by reiterating warnings about rumors. Above all, he stressed caution on two subjects: the number of fatalities and the status of the suspects. Davis opened the floor to questions. The first was directed to him by name. Sheriff Stone stepped forward, brushing Davis and his cautions aside. He held custody of the microphone through most of the press conference. The sheriff answered nearly every question directly, despite later evidence that he had little or no information on many of them. He winged it. The death count nearly doubled. "I've heard numbers as high as twenty-five," he said. He pronounced the killers unequivocally dead. He fed the myth of a third shooter. "Three--two dead [suspects] in the library," he said. "Well, where is the third?" "We're not sure if there is a third yet or not, or how many. The SWAT operation is still going on in there." Stone repeated the erroneous death count several times. It led newscasts around the world. Newspaper headlines proclaimed it the next morning: TWENTYFIVE DEAD IN COLORADO. Stone said the three kids detained in the park appeared to be "associates of these gentlemen or good friends." He was wrong; they had never met the killers, and were soon cleared. Stone made the first of an infamous string of accusations. "What are these parents doing that are letting their kids have automatic weapons?" he asked. Reporters were surprised to hear the rumors about automatic weapons confirmed. They rushed in with follow-ups. "I don't know anything about the weapons," Stone admitted. "I assume there were probably automatic weapons just because of the mass casualties." A reporter asked about motive. "Craziness," Stone said. Wrong again. ____ By now dozens of kids had fled the school with their friends. School officials herded them across Clement Park to meet school buses that would drive past police barricades to Leawood. The buses parked directly beside the site of the press conferences. The kids trudged meekly toward the media throng. Many sobbed quietly. Others helped distraught students along, holding their hands or slinging an arm over their shoulders. Most of the kids stared at the ground. The crowd of reporters parted. These were not the faces of interview subjects. But the students were eager to speak. Teachers hurried the kids, chiding them to keep quiet. They were having none of that. The bus windows started coming down, heads popped out, and kids recounted their ordeals. Kids piled off the buses. The teachers tried to coax them back on. Not a chance. A tough-looking senior described his terror in the choir room with a sense of bravado and chivalry. But his voice cracked when a reporter asked how he felt. "Horrible," he said. "There were two kids lying on the pavement. I just--I started crying. I haven't cried for years, I just--I don't know what I'm going to do." ____ Attention focused on the students. Endless reunions with their parents played out on TV. A different group weathered the crisis in seclusion. More than a hundred teachers worked at Columbine, along with dozens of support staff. A hundred and fifty families feared for their husbands, wives, and parents. There was no rendezvous point where they could gather. Most drove home and waited by their phones. That's where Linda Lou Sanders kept vigil. She had celebrated her mom's seventieth birthday with the family; then they'd headed up into the mountains for a pleasure drive. On the way, Linda's brother-in-law called her sister, Melody, on her cell. "Where does Dave teach?" "Columbine." "You better head back down here." Everyone gathered at Linda's house. Most of the news was good. Only one adult was reported injured, and it was a science teacher, which ruled out Dave. So why hadn't he called? Those reports were nearly accurate. Only one adult had been hit, and Dave was still bleeding at that moment. The sense that afternoon was that gunfire had erupted all over the place. In fact, it had mostly been limited to the library and the west steps outside. Teachers had not been studying for tests or strolling outside to enjoy their lunch in the sunshine. If the bombs had gone off as planned, it would have wiped out a quarter of the faculty in the teachers' longue. But they had been spared by dumb luck. All but one. Dave held on for hours in Science Room 3. Then the kids and teachers were evacuated, and none knew whether he'd made it. It would be a few days before the family would fully understand what had transpired in that room. It would take years to resolve why he'd lain there for over three hours, and who was to blame. All Dave's family knew was that he had failed to call. He must be trapped inside the building, they thought. That wasn't good. Linda hoped he wasn't a hostage. She assumed he was hiding. He would be safe; he was not a risk taker. The family monitored the TV and took turns answering calls. The phone rang incessantly, but it was never Dave. Linda called his business line repeatedly. Nobody picked up. Linda was an athletic woman in her late forties, but she had a fragile psyche. Her smile was warm but tentative, as if she could shatter from a harsh word or gesture. Dave had found great satisfaction in protecting her. In his absence, her daughters and sister stepped in. Every call was fraught, so her family made sure to screen. In midafternoon, she got the urge to answer a call herself. "It was a woman," she said later. "And she said she was from the Denver Post and my husband had been shot--Do I have a comment? I screamed, I threw the phone. I have no idea what happened from then on." ____ Robyn Anderson was scared. Her prom date was a mass murderer. She had apparently armed him. To her knowledge, only three people had known about the gun deal, and the other two were dead. Had they told anyone? Were guns traceable? She had not signed anything. Would the cops know? Should she keep her mouth shut? The cops did not know. Robyn had been debriefed in Clement Park and had played it totally cool. She told the detective where she had been and what she had seen. She told the truth, but not the whole truth. She didn't know for sure who had been shooting, so she didn't mention that she knew them. She certainly didn't mention the guns. Should she? The guilt began eating her up. Robyn talked to Zack Heckler on the phone that afternoon. She kept her mouth shut about the weapons. He didn't. He was clueless about the guns, thank God, but he knew the guys had been making pipe bombs. Bombs? Really? That astounded Robyn. Yes, really, Zack said. And he wasn't surprised at all. Zack didn't have quite the innocent picture of Dylan that Robyn did. It sounded just like those guys to run down the halls laughing while they killed people, he said. Zack did not tell Robyn that he had helped Eric and Dylan make any pipe bombs. She wondered. Did he? Was he mixed up in this? More than her? Zack was scared, too. They all were--anybody close to the killers. Zack wasn't volunteering information to the cops. He'd omitted mentioning the pipe bombs during his debriefing. Chris Morris went the opposite route. He'd called the cops in the first hour, as soon as he suspected that his friends were involved. He was handcuffed in Clement Park and spirited away on national television. He kept talking at the police station. He described Eric's interest in Nazis, a crack about jocks, and some scary recent suggestions: cutting power to the school and setting PVC bombs at the exits with screws for shrapnel. If Chris's story was legit, it suggested the killers had been leaking information about their plans--a classic characteristic of young assailants. If Eric and Dylan had leaked to Chris, chances were they had tipped off others as well. Chris's dad was called. He contacted a lawyer. At 7:43 P.M., the three sat down with detectives for a formal interview. Chris and his father signed a form waiving their rights. The cops found Chris highly cooperative. He described the killers' obsessions with explosives and volunteered all sorts of details. Dylan had brought a pipe bomb to work once, but Chris ordered him to get it out of there. Chris knew the guys had gotten their hands on guns. It had been an open secret around Blackjack several months ago that Eric and Dylan were looking for hardware. They'd never told Chris directly, but he had heard it from several people. Chris had a hunch who had come through for them: a kid named Phil Duran. Duran used to work at Blackjack, then moved to Chicago for a high-tech job. Before he'd left, Duran told Chris he had gone shooting with Eric and Dylan. Something about bowling pins and maybe an AK-47. Duran never said he had bought the guns, but Chris figured it was him. It sounded staggering, how much Chris had known. He swore he had not taken it seriously. He agreed to turn over the clothes he was wearing and allow detectives to search his room. Everyone agreed to rendezvous at his house. Chris's mom met the cops at the front door, handed them his PC, and showed them upstairs. Then his brother arrived with Chris's clothes in a paper bag. He said Chris was afraid to come home. Mobs of media were already staking out the street. The cops found nothing of obvious value, but gathered up piles of material. They left at 11:15. ____ Robyn needed company. She couldn't handle the stress alone. Her best friend, Kelli, came over around 7:30 on Tuesday evening. They went to Robyn's room. Kelli knew the boys well, too, especially Dylan. She had been part of the prom group. There was something Kelli didn't know, Robyn told her. Remember that favor she had done Eric and Dylan last November? Kelli remembered. It had been a big secret. Robyn had told Kelli repeatedly about this big favor she had done the guys, but she never would divulge what it was. Now she had to tell someone. It had been a gun show. The Tanner Gun Show in Denver. Eric and Dylan had called her on a Sunday, if she remembered right. They had checked the show out on Saturday, seen these sweet-looking shotguns. But they'd gotten carded; they were both underage then. They needed an eighteen-year-old with them. Robyn was eighteen. She really liked Dylan. So she went. It was their money. Robyn made sure not to sign any papers. But she was the one who bought the three guns. The boys each got a shotgun. One had some kind of pump thing on it. Eric went for a rifle, too--a semi-automatic that looked like a giant paintball gun. Robyn felt so guilty, Kelli said later. How could she have imagined this? Robyn didn't tell Kelli everything. She came clean with the main secret, but held back on a detail. She told Kelli she didn't know it was Eric and Dylan killing people until she heard it announced on TV that night. Kelli didn't buy it. Robyn had never received a B in high school--she could have put that mystery together. When she heard about the trench coats, she had to have known. ____ The Klebolds spent the afternoon and evening on their porch. Waiting. They were no longer allowed inside. At 8:10 P.M., a deputy arrived with instructions. Their home was now a crime scene. They had to go. Tom and Sue Klebold told friends they felt hit by a hurricane. Hurricanes don't hit the Rockies. They'd never seen it coming. "We ran for our lives," Sue said later. "We didn't know what had happened. We couldn't grieve for our child." Officers escorted Tom in to gather clothes for the next couple of days. Then Sue went in to take care of the pets. She fetched two cats, two birds, and their food bowls and litter boxes. At 9:00 P.M., they drove away. They talked to a lawyer that night. He related a sobering thought. "Dylan isn't here anymore for people to hate," he said. "So people are going to hate you."