One of the Columbine killers apparently downloaded plans for a spree of violence into a school computer the day before the shootings, possibly a final act of defiance that might have derailed the massacre if someone had checked the files.
At least 18 pages found in Eric Harris’ school computer files are dated April 19, 1999, about 8:30 a.m. Among the clearest indicators of the rampage that he and Dylan Klebold carried out the next day is a sort of crude list that mentions, “prepare explosives” and “shells.” Another sheet carries the notations “cannon fuse” and “napalm tests.” Drawings of battle gear and what appear to be a swastika are on other pages.
“Had myself or anyone in a position of authority seen these, there would have been a definite confrontation, immediately,” Richard Long, former head of technology for Columbine High School, said Friday. “We would have certainly talked to those individuals.”
But such a scenario was unlikely. The school did not routinely check student computer files partly because it would take so long, Long said. Such files were accessed by authorities only in response to suspicious activity.
Long was also familiar with Harris and Klebold. They were his student assistants for their first two and a half years at Columbine before they got busted for hacking into the computer system and stealing locker combinations.
Long saw the two boys change from “bright-eyed” freshmen to teens with darker attitudes. He believes that downloading the material the day before the shootings – if that is indeed what happened – may have been one way of thumbing their noses at authority.
“They carried propane bottles into the school,” he added. “How much more bold can you be?”
The last sign to go unheeded.