Chental-Song Bembry | Contributing Writer
In 1999, 18-year-old Eric Harris and 17-year-old Dylan Klebold sent America into a state of shock after initiating one of the most dreadful massacres at Columbine High School. Today, Klebold’s mother, Sue, seeks to right the wrong of her deceased son in her new memoir, “A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy.”
Writing such a memoir was not an easy journey for Klebold, who was forced to relive the day her son took the lives of 12 innocent students and one teacher, while wounding over twenty other bystanders in the process.
“It still shakes me,” Klebold said during an interview with MarieClaire.com. “But I’ve come a long way. Fifteen years ago, that would have sent me into a panic attack.”
The Klebolds have overcome a trying set of circumstances since 1999, when they completely excluded the press out of fear for their integrity and public image. The couple even feared for their lives because of numerous death threats following the massacre.
“It has taken a lot of courage. I’ve had to overcome a lot of fear to be able to do this, and it has not been easy,” Klebold said.
The two Columbine shooters meditated their attack for one year, focusing primarily on the location of their bombs. They obtained their firearms from an older friend, Robyn Anderson, and a fourth firearm from their coworker at a local pizzeria.
“It’s just such a tragic irony that my husband and I were not gun enthusiasts,” Klebold said. “We didn’t want them in our home or in our lives. But in my state of Colorado, a lot of people had guns.”
The Columbine shooting received worldwide attention and sparked a barrage of copycat shootings across America. Schools and college campuses enforced stricter safety precautions and made efforts to control peer bullying. The Klebold family were parties in a series of lawsuits while the public began to question their abilities as parents.
“I started searching Dylan’s room really diligently after his arrest, because he had gotten into trouble and I was watching to see if he stole something,” Klebold said. “But he was demonstrating to me that he was…handling his life. You come to a point that you trust your children have come to a threshold or adulthood and there’s not really much else you need to do in that regard. But I was wrong.”
The Klebolds realized much too late that their son had adopted the mind of a murderer. Sue’s rationale for writing “A Mother’s Reckoning” is to create awareness of mental disabilities and signs of suicide.
“I try to keep focusing on the larger good that I’m trying to accomplish, which is to raise awareness and using the book to raise funds for research and suicide prevention and mental-health programs,” Klebold said, “I felt that I had some things to say that might be beneficial for people to hear, might make their loved ones safer.”
Klebold’s memoir has received mixed reviews from the public. One positive reaction came from Anne Marie Hochhalter, a senior at Columbine who was paralyzed during the shooting.
“I have no ill-will towards you. Just as I wouldn’t want to be judged by the sins of my family members, I hold you in that same regard. It’s been a rough road for me, with many medical issues because of my spinal cord injury…I have forgiven you and only wish you the best,” Hochhalter said in a post on Facebook.
Despite this uplifting response, the Colorado Attorney General posted several angry tweets, in which he referred to Klebold’s interview with ABC News “20/20” as “irresponsible” and “inflammatory.”
“I realize that I really can’t run from this,” Klebold said. “I can change my name, I can move, but I still have to live with the fact that my son killed other people.”