Healing begins, the Denver Post announced Thursday morning. The headline spanned the full width of page 1 thirty-six hours after the attack. Ministers, psychiatrists, and grief counselors cringed. It was an insanely premature assessment The paper was trying to be helpful, but its rush to closure did not go over well in Jeffco. With every passing week, more of the community would grumble that it was time to move on. The survivors had other ideas. The bodies were finally returned to the victims' families on Thursday. Most of the parents were desperate to learn how their child had died. There were plenty of witnesses, but a few were tempted to inflate their accounts, and the more dramatic versions of their stories tended to travel. A heroic version of Danny Rohrbough's death quickly gained currency and was widely reported in the media. "[He] held the school door open to let others escape and laid down his life for his friends," the Rocky Mountain News reported. "You know, he might have lived," the Rohrboughs' pastor would tell fifteen hundred mourners at Danny's funeral. "He chose to stay there and hold the door for others so that they might go out before him and make their way to safety. They made it and Danny didn't." The story was later disproved. Danny's father, Brian, said he never believed it. "I know that Dan and his friends wouldn't have been standing there if they had thought they were in danger," he said. Brian was irritated by the urge to juice the story to make Danny's death more tragic or meaningful. It was tragic enough, he said. ____ A hundred students in Clement Park crushed together in a throbbing teen prayer mosh. They stood on their toes, reached toward the heavens, and pressed their arms together in a mass human steeple. The mood was rapturous, the faces serene. They sang sweet hymns, swayed as one body, and cried out to Jesus to pull them through. They named The Enemy. "We feel the presence of Satan operating in our midst!" a young girl declared. The school set up a second official gathering for students on Thursday afternoon. The megachurches were among the only structures in the area big enough to accommodate a crowd that large, so the gathering was held at West Bowles Community Church. This session was to be informal, just a designated place for students who wanted to find each other in one place. Mr. D wasn't planning to speak, until a counselor interrupted his meeting with faculty down the hall. "Frank, they need you," he said. "You need to go out there." Frank walked the hallway to the nave of the church, contemplating what to say. And again he faced the dilemma of how to act at the microphone. Several of his friends, and staff, too, had warned him not to cry again. "God, you're going to be in the national media," they said. "You can't show that, it's a sign of weakness." He had gotten away with it once, but the media would crucify him if they discovered he was buckling. The trauma specialists disagreed. These kids had been raised in a western mentality, they argued: real men fend for themselves; tears are for weaklings; therapy is a joke. "Frank, you are the key," one counselor advised him. "You're an emotional person, you need to show those emotions. If you try to hold your emotions inside, you're going to set the image for other people." The boys, in particular, would be watching him, DeAngelis felt. They were already dangerously bottled up. "Frank, they need to know it's all right to show emotion," the counselor said. "Give them that permission." The students were awaiting his appearance, and when he walked in, they started chanting the school's rallying cry, which he'd last heard at the assembly before the prom: "We are COL-um-BINE! We are COL-um-BINE!" Each time they yelled it more loudly, confidently, and aggressively. Mr. D hadn't realized until he heard them that he had been longing to draw strength from them, too. He'd thought he was there just to provide it. "I couldn't fake it," he said later. "I walked on that stage and I saw those kids cheering and the tears started coming down." This time he decided to address the tears. "Guys, trust me, now is not the time to show your manliness," he told them. "Emotion is emotion, and keeping it inside doesn't mean you're strong." That was the last time Mr. D worried about crying in public. ____ The big question facing the school was how to finish out the year. These kids needed to get back together fast. But the cops weren't going to open the building for months. The administration decided to restart classes a week later at nearby Chatfield High School, Columbine's traditional rival. Columbine would take over the school in the mornings, and Chatfield would resume use in the afternoons. Classes would be shortened for both groups until the end of the school year. The long-term solution was trickier. Some people suggested that the building be demolished; some parents insisted that their kids would never set foot in that murder scene again. But others pointed out that the psychological blow of losing their high school entirely would be much worse. The Rocky Mountain News led its Thursday edition with a letter from the publisher stating, "If students, teachers and parents feel there is no way they can return to the classrooms of Columbine, the Denver Rocky will lead the charge to raise the funds to build a new school and urge legislators to help. If they decide that they do not want to be driven from their school, we will support the community in rebuilding the campus." ____ Reverend Bill Oudemolen began preparing two funerals. John Tomlin and Lauren Townsend had been faithful members of the Foothills Bible Church. The pastor walked through Clement Park and sniffed the air. Satan. The pastor could smell him wafting through the park. It was an acrid odor--had it been a little stronger, it might have singed his nose hairs. The Enemy had swept in with this madness on Tuesday, but the real battle was only now under way. "I smell the presence of Satan," Reverend Oudemolen thundered from the pulpit Sunday morning. "What we saw Tuesday came from Satan's home office. Satan had a plan. Satan wants us to live in fear in Littleton. He wants us to see black trench coats or people in Goth attire and makeup and here's what he wants us to feel: Look how powerful and scary Satan is!" He'd watched an ABC special examining the fallout in West Paducah, Kentucky, thirteen months after its school shooting. West Paducah was still riven with hostility, Oudemolen told his congregation. "I know what Satan wants Littleton to look like in thirteen months," he said. "He wants us to be angry. Satan wants us to stay right here, with uncontrollable grief. He wants evil to be repaid by evil. He wants hatred to be repaid by hatred. Satan has plans for Littleton." Cassie Bernall's pastor, George Kirsten, charged the same culprit. This was so much more than two boys with guns or even bombs, in their eyes. This was spiritual warfare. The Enemy had taken the battlefield in broad daylight in Jeffco, and Reverend George Kirsten was eager to see Christ reappear to smite him. When Kirsten addressed his congregation at West Bowles Community Church, he likened Cassie to the martyrs calling out to God at the onset of the Apocalypse in the book of Revelation: "How long? How long will it be until my blood is avenged?" he cried. It's a pivotal scene Reverend Kirsten was invoking. Immediately after the appearance of the four horsemen, the fifth seal is broken and all the Christian martyrs since the beginning of time appear under the altar, pleading for enemy blood to be spilled in return. Shortly thereafter, all true believers are raptured and the Apocalypse commences. Reverend Kirsten happened to be teaching Revelation--one chapter a week--to his Bible study group at West Bowles. He believed, as they did, that the great signs of the Apocalypse were already under way and the moment might be at hand. ____ Reverend Don Marxhausen disagreed with all the riffs on Satan. He saw two boys with hate in their hearts and assault weapons in their hands. He saw a society that needed to figure out how and why--fast. Blaming Satan was just letting them off easy, he felt, and copping out on our responsibility to investigate. The "end of days" fantasy was even more infuriating. Marxhausen had managed to reach the kids at the Light of the World assembly. He led the large Lutheran congregation near Columbine, and for years he'd headed up a council of mainline Protestant clergy--mainline being the common term for the large, moderate denominations such as Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Methodists, and Baptists outside the Southern Baptist Convention. Marxhausen was only forty-five, but widely regarded on as the old wise man of the western suburbs. Mainliners were outnumbered by the Evangelicals, and probably even the Catholics, in Jeffco, but they maintained a strong presence, and Marxhausen's thousand-seat church was packed solid every Sunday. Most of the mainliners and the Catholics were averse to pinning the Columbine tragedy on Satan, but they were determined not to fight about it. Local ministers agreed very quickly that they needed to pull together and put factional bickering aside. Barb Lotze faced her first test barely twenty-four hours after the massacre. She arranged a huge prayer service for Wednesday evening at Light of the World Catholic Church, where she served as youth pastor. Students from all faiths had been invited, and every pew was packed. She wanted to make them all feel welcome. Midway through the service, an excited youth minister from an Evangelical church approached Lotze about performing an "altar call"--the practice where new or renewed believers are summoned forward to be born again. It was a decidedly un-Catholic ritual, and it seemed like an inappropriate time, but Lotze was determined to establish some sort of reciprocity with the Evangelical churches. She reluctantly agreed. The young pastor rushed to the microphone and proclaimed the power of Jesus. Who was ready to accept Jesus Christ as their own personal savior? he cried. No one moved. He was astonished. "Nobody?" he asked. He sat down, and the audience moved on. "They just want to be hugged," Lotze said. "They want to be loved, told that we're going to get through this together." ____ The kids kept pouring into the churches. What began Tuesday night as a means to escape from their parents and find each other quickly became a habit. Night after night they returned to the churches in vast numbers--kids who had not seen an altar in years. For some it was a conscious choice to look to God in desperation, but most said it was just a place to go. The churches organized informal services at night. In the daytime, they just opened their doors and gave the kids the run of the place. A handful saw a recruiting opportunity. Anyone who drove to Clement Park and stayed a few hours would find several flyers stacked under their wiper blades: "WE'RE HERE TO LISTEN AND ASSIST YOU," "If you need: prayer, counseling, meals prepared...," "FREE!! HOT CHOCOLATE COFFEE COOKIES, COME BE WARM AT CALVARY CHAPEL." Boxes of pocket-sized Bibles were trucked to the park and distributed to passersby. Scientologists handed out Way to Happiness booklets to mourners filing past Rachel Scott's car--still abandoned in the parking lot where she'd left it. ____ Eventually, investigators would escort dozens of witnesses back through the school to help re-create the attack. Mr. D was the first. A few days after the massacre, detectives walked him down the main hallway. Dr. Fuselier was with them. They passed the remnants of the trophy case and DeAngelis described it exploding behind him. They proceeded down the corridor and he indicated where he'd intercepted the girls' gym class. He re-created everything: the shouts, the screams, the acrid smell of the smoke. None of that fazed Frank DeAngelis. He was cried out by this time, as stoic as the boys he was hoping to open up. They turned the corner, and Frank saw bloody smears on the carpet. He knew Dave Sanders had gone down there. He had not anticipated the stains. "You could see the knuckle prints," he said. "He actually was on all fours and there were his knuckle prints--he was struggling. It tore me up." A trail of blood traced Dave's path around the corner and down the hall. Detectives led Frank DeAngelis to Science Room 3. Nothing had been disturbed. "They took me into where Dave died," Frank recalled. "And there were sweatshirts there full of blood. That got to me." In the science room, Frank broke down again. He turned to Fuselier. "I was glad he was here," DeAngelis said later. "Most FBI guys wouldn't have done anything. Dwayne gave me a hug." ____ Aside from witnesses, the best hope for cracking the case seemed to lie in the physical evidence: the guns, first and foremost. Dylan was a minor; Eric had just turned eighteen. They had probably gotten help securing the weapons. Whoever turned up at the front end of those acquisitions would likely be co-conspirator number one. Investigators worked parallel tracks hunting them down. ATF agents took the technical angle: they came up with a solid lifespan on the semiautomatics. Eric's carbine rifle was less than a year old; it had been sold originally in Selma, Alabama, and had made its way to a gun shop in Longmont, Colorado, less than an hour from Denver. They traced Dylan's TEC-9 through four different owners between 1997 and 1998, but then the records disappeared. The third owner said he'd sold it at the Tanner Gun Show but had not been required to keep sales records at that time. The shotguns were a bigger problem. They were three decades old, before serial numbers were required. They were impossible to trace. The bomb squad disassembled and studied the big bombs. The centerpiece of Eric's performance was a complete mess. "They didn't understand explosive reactions," the deputy fire marshal said. "They didn't understand electrical circuitry." Officials refused to be more specific, arguing that they didn't want to give copycatters any hints. The deputy marshal summarized the primary mistake as "defective fusing." Detectives were having more luck working the suspects. Chris Morris had implicated Phil Duran the first day. If they could believe Morris, that could explain several guns, possibly all four. Duran was playing innocent, but they knew they could crack him. And then they heard from Robyn Anderson. Unloading her secret to Kelli on Tuesday night had not appeased Robyn's conscience. Wednesday morning, she called Zack again. This time, she told him. And she told him another small lie--that he was the only one who knew. Then she told her mom. ____ Robyn's mom brought her down to the school. Jeffco had setup its Columbine Task Force inside the crime scene, headquartered in the band room. Detectives interviewed Robyn, with her mom by her side. Two detectives traded off questioning--one from the DA's office, one from a nearby suburb's police force. They videotaped the session. And they were harsh. The first time they asked about the guns, Robyn "visibly recoiled," according to the detective's synopsis of the videotape. And she looked to her mom for support. Did she buy the guns? they asked. No, she did not. She went to the show with them, but they bought the weapons. Why did they want them? Dylan lived out in the country, so she assumed they wanted to hunt. No, they never talked about hunting people, not even as a joke. Detectives asked her about the prom, the Trench Coat Mafia, the killers' personalities, and then returned to the guns. It was a private dealer, she said. The boys paid cash. They didn't try to bargain, they just paid the asking price--somewhere around $250 to $300 apiece. No one signed anything, and she never showed an ID. The shotguns had very long barrels, but the dealer said they could cut them down. The detectives began to press her harder: Dylan and Eric didn't really seem like hunters, did they? Dylan lived in the mountains, there were deer all over the place. And her dad owned a gun--he never used it, but he had one. Lots of people have gun collections. Eric and Dylan were into that kind of stuff--why wouldn't they want one? She'd actually asked the boys if they were going to do something stupid with the guns, she said. They'd assured her they would never hurt anyone. Did Eric and Dylan tell you to keep the guns secret? the detectives asked. Yes. And that didn't raise your suspicions? They were underage. It was illegal. They had to hide it from their parents. And where did they hide them? She didn't know about Eric. Dylan dropped him off first, and Eric put his guns in the trunk of his Honda. She assumed he stashed them in the house later. Dylan tried to hide his in his bottom dresser drawer, but it was too big. He stuck it in the closet, but he told her later that he cut the barrel down and made it fit in the drawer. And that didn't arouse her suspicions? No, because the gun dealer had already suggested it. Robyn said she never saw the guns again. The detectives moved on. They asked about a wide range of subjects; eventually, they got to the explosives. Had she seen any, had she helped make any, had any of Eric and Dylan's friends assisted them? No, no, and... maybe Zack Heckler. Zack? Why Zack? Zack had told her he knew more of what was going on. She told them about the call with Zack, about his admission that he knew about the pipe bombs. How strange, the detectives said--Eric and Dylan went bowling with her every week, Dylan called her every other night, they confided in her about the guns, and yet they never said a word about the pipe bombs. They must not have wanted me to know. Come on! the detectives said. You're lying! Over and over, they mocked her about the disparity--the boys told Zack about the pipe bombs, but they never told her? No, no, never. That's what they were like. When they wanted you to know something, you knew. When they wanted you in the dark, you stayed there. They could get very secluded about it, very isolated. They kept on her. The guns were an isolated incident, she said. And Zack--he didn't know much either. He knew they were making bombs, but he had no idea what they were up to. The interrogation went on for four hours. Robyn held her ground. ____ Bomb squads had been through the school several times and found nearly a hundred bombs of varying sizes and composition--most exploded, some not. Most were pipe bombs or crickets, but one in the cafeteria stood out: a big white propane tank, standing upright, nearly two feet tall. It was wedged against a one-gallon gasoline can. The most ominous part was the alarm clock. There were remnants of an orange duffel bag, too, mostly burned away. The car bombs were also discovered, with more faulty wiring. The diversionary bomb in the field was disturbing for another reason. It had blown shortly after being moved, suggesting booby traps. Trip wires could be anywhere. The FBI provided a group of crime scene specialists to assist in the massive effort of documenting the evidence. At 8:15 on Thursday morning, the team slogged through the cafeteria debris. Hundreds of backpacks, lunch trays, and half-eaten meals had been abandoned, many of them knocked over, singed by fire, or scattered by explosions, and everything had been soaked by the sprinkler system, which had run for hours. Muted pagers buried inside the backpacks beeped methodically, alerting the kids to phone home. As they walked, an agent spotted a blue duffel bag ten feet from the burned-out orange bag with the big bomb. It was bulging and sized to fit the same contraption. They walked over. One of the agents pressed down slowly on the top. Hard. Probably another tank. They called help over: a couple of deputies and an FBI bomb technician. One of the officers was Mike Guerra, the same man who had investigated Eric Harris a year earlier. He sliced open the bag. They could see the end of a propane tank and an alarm clock that matched the other. There were still active bombs in here. How many more? They closed off the area immediately. Had the propane bombs detonated, they would have incinerated most or all of the inhabitants of the commons. They would have killed five hundred people in the first few seconds. Four times the toll in Oklahoma City. More than the ten worst domestic terrorist attacks in U.S. history combined. For investigators, the big bombs changed everything: the scale, the method, and the motive of the attack. Above all, it had been indiscriminate. Everyone was supposed to die. Columbine was fundamentally different from the other school shootings. It had not really been intended as a shooting at all. Primarily, it had been a bombing that failed. That same day, officials announced the discovery of the big bombs, and their destructive power. It instigated a new media shock wave. But, curiously, journalists failed to grasp the implications. Detectives let go of the targeting theory immediately. It had been sketchy to begin with, and now it was completely disproved. The media never shook it off. They saw what happened at Columbine as a shooting and the killers as outcasts targeting jocks. They filtered every new development through that lens.