Families Allege Columbine Cover-Up

April 17, 2001 -- Two years after the tragedy at Columbine High School, victims' families are still asking questions — and complaining that the local sheriff's office is still trying to hide the answers.

"It's a cover-up," said Brian Rohrbough, whose son Daniel was one of the 13 victims who died in the April 20, 1999, massacre. "They are trying to cover up that not only could they have prevented it, they should have prevented it."

The Jefferson County Sheriff's Office released 11,000 pages of material in November after the Rohrboughs and other victims' families sued under Colorado's open records laws.

These families say the sheriff's office mishandled the incident from start to finish, from the time they responded to emergency calls from inside the school right up through the subsequent investigation of the massacre. They also say the sheriff's office withheld information on what they knew about killers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold before the attack.

Searching for Clues

The families have been relentless in what they say is a pursuit for the truth about Columbine, wading through the endless documents on the tragedy, digging for clues. When they received the voluminous material — each copy filled four boxes — they split it up and began to look for omissions.

"We each took books and tabbed them. We were tabbing every page," remembered Judy Brown, whose son Brooks had been threatened by Harris before the attack. "They were full of information, well, a lack of information."

The sheriff's office declined to comment, citing the pending lawsuits. Sheriff John Stone has refused to testify before a commission convened by Gov. Bill Owens to review agencies' response to the incident.

Unfulfilled Search Warrant

One omission was a document showing that the sheriff's office had linked a pipe bomb they found near the Browns' home in February 1998 — more than a year before the attack — to a description on Harris' Web site. The document shows they were concerned enough to draw up a search warrant request for Harris's home, but never submitted it to prosecutors for review.

The sheriff's office released the affidavit last week, more than a year after the families first requested it.

"If they had done the search, Columbine would not have happened," Rohrbough said. But there is a catch: the Jefferson County district attorney has said he would not have approved the search based on the information the sheriff's office presented.

Other Omissions

A review by ABCNEWS has found that other key information was missing from the 11,000 pages of material released by the sheriff's office in November:

Harris' Psychologist. The sheriff's office never interviewed Harris' psychologist, Kevin Albert. Albert had been seeing Harris regularly for more than a year, and might be in a position to give a psychological profile that would shed light on why he participated in the shootings. School Deputy. The materials do not say what deputy Neal Gardner, who was assigned to Columbine full-time, did after he was informed of the Browns' complaints about Harris' threatening Web site. It remains unclear whether he told school officials of the site. Missing Videotapes. The sheriff's office videotaped interviews with its deputies about their response to the attack to sell as training tools, but the videotapes have not been released. Shredded Timeline. The sheriff's office compiled a detailed timeline of Harris and Klebold's actions, starting months before the attack, but it was not among the 11,000 pages released. Assistant County Attorney Lily Oeffler said at a court hearing in March that it had been shredded. Undocumented Interviews. The Jefferson County Sheriff's office was the only agency to interview Harris' parents, Wayne and Kathy Harris, but the materials contain no record of the interview. The sheriff's office has said the Harrises told them nothing of interest.

The materials also fail to document at least 11 hours of FBI interviews with Brooks Brown. The Browns, who sat in on the interviews, say they tried to tell the FBI about Harris' threats to their son months before the attack, but that the FBI agents said they were interested only in what happened the day of the attack.

ABCNEWS' Law and Justice Unit contributed to this report.