Families Allege Columbine Cover-Up

ByABC News
April 17, 2001, 12:40 AM

April 17 -- 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.