|“||I'll rip off your goddamned head and shove it so far up your frickin' ass, you'll be coughing up dandruff for four frickin' months!||”|
— Dylan Klebold, Hitmen for Hire (December 1998)
Dylan Bennet Klebold (also know as his nickname "Vodka") (September 11, 1981 – April 20, 1999) was an American senior student who participated in the Columbine High School Massacre, together with best friend Eric Harris. He was armed with a Intratec TEC-DC 9 rapid shooter and a Stevens 311D double barrelled shotgun. He dressed in black cargo pants, wore leather boots and a black t-shirt that read "Wrath" in red letters.
Dylan was born in Lakewood, Colorado, to Thomas and Susan Klebold (née Yassenoff). His parents attended a Lutheran church with their children, and Dylan and his older brother, Byron, attended confirmation classes in accordance with Lutheran tradition. At home, the family also observed some rituals in keeping with Klebold's maternal grandfather's Jewish heritage. Klebold attended Normandy Elementary in Littleton, Colorado for the first two grades before transferring to Governor's Ranch Elementary and became part of the CHIPS ("Challenging High Intellectual Potential Students") program. He found the transition to Ken Caryl Middle School difficult.
Tom was a geophysicist, while Sue worked with handicapped people. Both were from Columbus, Ohio and went to Ohio State University. Sue was from a prominent Jewish community there, granddaughter
of the late philanthropist and construction magnate Leo Yassenoff, who built the local Jewish community center in Columbus that bears his name. Dylan was born in Lakewood, Colorado.
Dylan attended Normandy Elementary School in Littleton, Colorado, for first and second grade and then transferred to Governor's Ranch Elementary School where he was part of the CHIPS (Challenging High Intellectual Potential Students) program for gifted and talented children. His parents told investigators he was somewhat sheltered at Governors Ranch Elementary and believed his transition to Ken Caryl Middle School was a little difficult for him because he was so quiet and shy. Transition from elementary school to middle school is difficult for many adolescents so his parents were not overly concerned.
During his earlier school years, he played T-ball, baseball and soccer. He was in Cub Scouts with friend Brooks Brown, a boy he had been friends with since the first grade. He met Eric Harris while attending Ken Caryl Middle School in the seventh or eighth grade and it turned out that Brooks Brown lived near the house Eric's parents had recently bought, and rode the same bus as Eric. Not long after that Eric introduced Dylan to his friend Nathan (Nate) Dykeman, who also attended Ken Caryl, and the boys all became good friends.
Columbine High School
In 1995 all four boys moved up to Columbine when they went into the ninth grade. The high school had just undergone a $15 million dollar makeover and they were in the first class to see the new look of the cafeteria and student entrance.
At Columbine Dylan was active in the school play productions as a light and sound coordinator as well as being involved in video productions and Columbine High School's Rebel News Network -- he made a couple of videos with Nate, one of the Rebel News Network annoucements (8mm) and another made Nov. 1998 to show Nate's father where Nate lived, went to school, etc (VHS). He was lauded for helping out during Rachel Scott's performance of "Watch the Lamb": when the music messed up Dylan was able to provide a backup tape so the show could go on. He was a computer assistant at school and helped maintain the school computer server. He played Fantasy Baseball on a regular basis; other players said they heard him discussing the plays that would be happening in the week of 4-20, giving them no indication that he didn't plan to be around after that Tuesday.
Neighbors of the Klebolds described them as nice people: The picture-perfect family. Sherry Higgins, mother of a friend of Dylan and Eric's, says she was told that the teens' 'Hitmen for Hire' video that they made about hitmen killing bullies to avenge the weak at Columbine was a spoof; a "bang-bang, Dick Tracy-type thing that they were trying to put together." In hindsight, she admitted it should have been a clue that all was not right in Dylan's world.
Dylan's parents maintained initially that they had no idea that their son was troubled. One early report says Sue was stunned by what her son did. In it she claimed that she never had a hint of what was going to happen. Dylan's older brother Byron also expressed surprise at his younger brother's actions; the closest thing to a gun that the family owned was a BB gun to keep squirrels at bay. Friends of Dylan said that while they saw Eric being picked on at school, they never saw it happening to Dylan; he was too tall, too lanky, too ignored by those who weren't his friends. However, some people have said he did get bullied by some students and this is shown in a video he recorded of Eric and some friends walking to the cafeteria. But something certainly was bothering him. Years later, Dylan's parents admitted in interviews that they had overlooked the fact that their son was as unhappy as he was, failing to see clues that were, in retrospect, there all along.
When Columbine's senior prom was held on 4-17-1999, Dylan went by limo along with 12 other friends to the dance. Nate Dykeman told reporters that nothing seemed unusual about that night, that everything went "perfect". Nate said that Dylan talked happily about a positive future attending college in Arizona and he sounded to his friends like that was what he really planned to do with his life. His family had already put down money for a dorm room at the University of Arizona where he planned to major in computer science. The whole Klebold family drove to Arizona on March 25, 1999 to pick out Dylan's room.
Dylan's prom date for the night was friend Robyn Anderson, whom he'd met some years before at a Christmas party. She was attending the event with him as his friend; not a love interest. Despite early media reports, Robyn and Dylan were not romantically involved. Robyn proudly boasted to another male friend shortly before the prom: "I convinced my friend Dylan, who hates dances, jocks and has never had a date let alone a girlfriend to go with me! I am either really cute or just really persuasive!"
It was Robyn Anderson who helped purchase the two shotguns and the rifle that were used in the assault. She acted as a middleman in a "straw sale" to purchase the guns for them since Dylan and Eric were not 18 at the time (the legal age to purchase a firearm in Colorado) but Robyn was. Shortly before the purchase, the owner of Dragon Arms gun shop in Littleton reported that five teen-agers tried to purchase an M-60 machine gun and a silencer-equipped assault pistol in early March. The five appeared on a store surveillance videoptape that was turned over to police but it hasn't been made known if any of the teens was Dylan or Eric.
Dylan was described by many who knew him to be a follower and he that Harris had a strong influence on him, particularly after 1998. He was also depicted by those who knew him as a young man who lacked confidence in himself - 'painfully shy', some folks said - but that he was not quick to anger.
But this shy demeanor so many remember him by isn't shared by everyone who knew him, particularly those who knew him best in the months before the shootings. His and Eric's behavior at Blackjack Pizza where they worked definitely didn't fit that profile. When they were bored, they would buy dry ice at the nearby Baskin-Robbins and make small bombs to detonate behind the pizza place. Dylan was once written up for bringing a pipe bomb to work, quitting shortly after, but was rehired by Blackjack later when they needed employees. At least twice the previous owner let Dylan and Eric set fire to aerosol cans, once in a mop sink and another time in an oven. They were constantly playing with fire behind the store, once allowing a blaze in a dumpster to grow so wild that the fire department showed up to put it out.
Dylan was known to swear in front of teachers and was once suspended from school (along with Eric and another student) for hacking into the school's computer to acquire locker combinations which they used to place a threatening note in an enemy's locker. According to Nate Dykeman, Dylan and Eric had helped themselves without permission to computer parts from the school; Dylan's father even once made him return a laptop computer stolen from the school. A dean of students who'd seen Dylan and Eric in his office several times told police he wasn't terribly shocked it was them who had done it as he had seen "the potential for an 'evil side'...that there was a violent, angry streak in these kids".
Students in the bowling class Dylan and Eric attended first thing in the morning told reporters that he and Eric would shout 'Heil Hitler!' every time they rolled a good ball - Tom Klebold said he "didn't know where the Nazi stuff or the violence came from". Dylan's friend Nate Dykeman said he that had seen Eric sketch swastikas but Dylan never did, so it's hard to say how much Dylan actually supported the Nazi movement - support that would seem out of character for a Jewish-born boy almost as much as the violent tendencies he was hiding from his family.
Nathan Dykeman told police that he'd seen Dylan making a purchase behind Blackjack Pizza, paying something like $200-$300 dollars to Philip Duran, a co-worker of theirs. Nate thought Dylan was buying drugs and being staunchly against drug use himself, Nate gave him a hard time about it. Dylan told him then that he'd been buying a gun (the TEC-DC9, which Mark Manes supplied with Philip's help as go-between). With the weapons purchased Eric and Dylan made a video at Rampart Range where they practiced shooting the sawed off shotguns and the TEC-DC9 with Mark and Mark's friend Jessica Miklich. The videotape of the target practice was made by Harris and Klebold in March, and was shown to Nate two weeks before the Columbine shootings. Dykeman told cops about the videotape three days after the killings.
Just weeks before the massacre, Dylan turned in a school report that was so graphically violent that the teacher told his parents about it. "It's just a story," was Dylan's explanation, accepted easily by his parents. The story was about a lone warrior clad in a trench coat who in gory detail beat, stabbed and shot to death a group of "college-preps," then set off bombs to divert the attention of the police. The language used to describe the prep 'enemies' was so strong that the teacher, Judy Kelly, wouldn't even grade the paper till she'd sat down and spoken with him about it. The families of three victims named Kelly, along with other school employees, in their wrongful death lawsuits, contending she should have done more to call attention to Dylan's violent fantasies.
April 20th, 1999
The Klebolds cooperated with Denver police fully immediately following the massacre but later refused to release Dylan's autopsy, though it has since been released and copies are for sale through Jefferson County, along with the rest of their information about Columbine. In addition to other evidence police confiscated five video tapes the teens shot in the basement of Eric's home (wherein they showed off how well their weapons could be hidden under their trenchcoats). It was in these videos that Dylan's true dark side showed. No sheep, he; no hapless follower blindly tagging after Eric's lead. This was a shotgun-cracking angry young man who wanted to hurt people and showed it in his words and body language.
He and Eric both rant about the 'stuck up bitches' they go to school with, Dylan referring to two by name: Rachel and Jen. An interesting aside: Rachel Scott - the first victim to die - was the prom date of Nick Baumgart, Dylan's childhood friend and a mutual friend of Eric's. These may not be the folks referred to in the video but interesting facts to note none the less.
October 1999 the Klebolds announced intent to sue the Jefferson County police department. The basis of their claim was that if the police had treated the Browns' report when Eric threatened Brooks, things would've never escalated to this tragic ending. Several families of the victims who died expressed support of this position, including Daniel Rohrbough's family.
There was some controversy regarding Dylan's death; he died from a single gun-shot wound to the left temple. Investigators initially believed that if Dylan was going to shoot himself, he would've shot himself in the right temple, however Dylan wasn't right-handed; he was left-handed and shot guns with his left hand, something that's clearly seen in the various videos left behind. Some think Eric Harris may have killed Klebold with his gun before killing himself. The coroner ruled it a suicide in Dylan's autopsy report. The Klebolds' lawyer, Frank Patterson, confirmed on behalf of the family that Dylan was indeed left-handed and they stood by the findings of the medical examiner.
Dylan Klebold killed five of the 13 victims during the massacre and injured 4 students. For a list of the victims of the shooting click here.