|“||Look, I don't care what you say, if you ever touch that kid again, I will fricking kill you. I will pull out a goddamn shotgun, and blow out your damn head off, do you understand? You little worthless piece of crap!||”|
— Eric Harris, Hitmen for Hire
Eric David Harris (April 9, 1981 – April 20, 1999) was an American senior student who participated in the Columbine High School Massacre, together with Dylan Klebold. He was armed with a Hi-Point 995 Carbine rifle and a Savage 67H pump-action shotgun. He dressed in green cargo pants, wore leather boots and a white t-shirt that read "Natural Selection" in black letters.
Eric was born in Wichita, Kansas. His parents were both born in Colorado but while he was working in the Air Force as a transport pilot, Wayne Harris held 11 different positions at six different bases from in Ohio, Michigan and New York. Plattsburgh, New York was last place the Harrises moved to before Wayne's forced retirement from the military in 1993 due to cutbacks.
From all accounts, Eric was a "normal guy" when he lived in Plattsburgh. "My mouth just dropped," former classmate Kyle Ross said. "He was a typical kid. He didn't seem anything like what is portrayed on TV." Eric's father told his former classmates at Englewood High School's 20th reunion that his goal in life was to raise two good sons.
The Harris family moved from New York to Littleton, Colorado in July 1993. Wayne took a job with Flight Safety Services Corporation in Englewood and Kathy got a job as a caterer. Eric went to Ken Caryl Middle School, where he met Dylan Klebold in the seventh or eigth grade. They became close friends and spent a lot of time together.
The Harrises rented for the first three years after their arrival in Colorado. Eric started attending Columbine in 1995. In 1996 the Harrises bought a $180,000 house just south of Columbine High School on Pierce Street. Eric met Brooks Brown on the school bus they rode together - their houses weren't far apart. Dylan had been friends with Brooks since first grade though they had fallen out of touch for a bit when the boys had attended different schools. Eric met Nate Dykeman in Spanish class, then introduced Nate to Dylan. The group became good friends.
During his freshman year, Eric met Tiffany Typher in German class and took her to the homecoming. It was their only date and when she refused to go out with him again, Eric staged a fake 'suicide', sprawling on the ground with fake blood splashed all over him. He later wrote in her yearbook (and Nate Dykeman's as well): "Ich bin Gott" - "I am God".
In 1997 Eric and Dylan were both employed at Blackjack Pizza, a place where they would later purchase one of the guns used during the shootings from Mark Manes, a man whom fellow co-worker and Columbine graduate Philip Duran set them up with. Robyn Anderson, a close friend of Dylan's, purchased two shotguns and the rifle which she then gave the teens who would later become the Columbine High shooters. With the weapons purchased, Eric and Dylan made a video at Rampart Range in March 1999 with Mark Manes and a female friend of theirs. They practiced firing the sawed off shotguns, using bowling pins and pine trees as targets.
Together Eric and Dylan got into a lot of mischief at Blackjack Pizza: They set off fireworks in the back alley, they booby-trapped the fence -- they even set a fire in the sink of the kitchen once. Chris Morris, one of Eric's best friends, also worked at Blackjack Pizza and was arrested on 4/20 due to some suspicion he may have been involved in the shootings. He was later cleared and released.
The same year, Eric's father Wayne Harris started keeping a diary of Eric's misdeeds. It starts shortly after Eric and Brooks Brown had a falling out. In Brooks' book No Easy Answers: The Truth Behind Death at Columbine the author says it started because Brooks was chronically late in giving Eric a ride to school. Eric chewed him out about it one too many times so Brooks, who said he wasn't even receiving gas money for the ride, told him to find another ride to school. Eric got angry and broke Brooks' windshield with a rock (some reports say a chunk of ice). He also terrorized the Brown household by putting firecrackers on the windowsill and other harassment. These things Eric gloated about in his personal journals and online. The Browns contacted the police and Eric's parents. Eric apologized and all seemed like it would be okay but then Eric went and posted Brooks' phone number on one of his online rants, one of two places where he's known to rant about the other teen. It was around this time that Wayne Harris began logging his son's problems.
On January 30, 1998, Eric and Dylan broke into a van and stole a bunch of electronic equipment. They were caught and sentenced to community service via Juvenile Diversion. They were both released early for good behaviour and positive activity in the program. Eric was very mad about this and ranted about it in one of his diary entries. To his parents and the judge though, he presented a remorseful image and was even released early from his sentence. Around the same time his mother started taking him to a therapist for his anger management issues.
One of Eric's aspirations was to join the Marines and he even took steps to apply, though his application was rejected shortly before the shooting, likely because he was taking the drug Luvox® (Fluvoxamine maleate) at the time, an SSRI antidepressant he was taking in connection with his anger management therapy. It's been theorized that Luvox's side-effects contributed to what happened - and indeed most anti-depressants are now cautioning that their use in teens can increase violent and/or suicidal thoughts. However, friends of Eric's told reporters that they believed he had stopped taking the drug shortly before the rampage. If so, this could have triggered an even more violent reaction as stopping any anti-depressant suddenly can enhance the negative side-effects. Doctors now know that anti-depressants taken by children and teens can increase depression and suicidal behavior -- Columbine was one of the first case studies that now have drug companies including warnings on their advertisements.
The autopsy states he had low therapeutic levels of Luvox in his system at the time of death. Luvox has a 'washout period' of about 14 days for a 60mg/day prescription. Typical Luvox therapy starts with 50mg/day dosage and progresses into high dosages of up to 300mg/day as needed. It's extremely reactive to other substances (alcohol, marijuana, prescriptions). Without knowing how long Eric was taking the drug before 4-20-99 and without knowing how much he was prescribed, it's hard to tell whether this low level of Luvox was because he was actively taking a low level of the drug or because he was in the process of taking himself off a high level of it.
Eric never got the message that he'd been denied as the recruiting officer was unable to reach Eric to let him know before the shootings occurred. However, Eric's mother had mentioned the drug while Eric was meeting with the recruiter so it's possible he may have assumed his chances were blown as he had not reported that he was taking an anti-depressant when he applied. Based on what his friends have said over the years, Eric believed he wouldn't be going into the armed service.
Eric was very active on the internet during the years preceding the shootings, exploring what was then a new frontier as the internet was still very new. Judy Brown, mother to Brooks, said she would often be driving down the block and there he'd be, sitting in front of the computer so often that she wondered if it was healthy for him to be spending so much time on it. He and Dylan had their computers set up on a network to play Doom together online though it was Eric who had the stronger web presence. Eric's (aka REB, Rebel, Rebdoomer, Rebdomine) webpages received a lot of attention immediately following the shootings, particularly the rants that were released years after the investigation ended.
Most of the initial fuss revolved around two particular pages: The Doom II site he had up starting somewhere around '96 on WBS and the news-famed WBS site (which is just the lyrics to KMFDM's Son of a Gun. The band publicly distanced themselves from the Trenchcoat Mafia and the shooters, as did Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio and anyone else who was listed on Eric's site as being someone he admired. Marilyn Manson was brought into the fray by the media though there's no sign that Eric or Dylan listened to his music. Manson also made it known that he didn't condone what had happened at Columbine.
Eric chatted on WBS, Web Broadcasting System, a site which has since been swallowed by the GO network but I managed to save Eric's user profile before the merger swept it away. He also was an active AOL user and had accounts on other websites aside from the above mentioned sites.
Other websites Eric made included Jo Mamma (a page of 'jo mamma' jokes that aren't supposed to be funny, created by REB [Eric], VoDKa [Dylan] and KiBBz [Zack Heckler]), another WBS page of KMFDM lyrics and the more explicit and threatening website on AOL that contained the spew regarding Brooks Brown and shooting up Littleton. Brooks' parents saw the website (tipped off to them by Dylan Klebold, ironically) and filed a police report.
Days after the Browns reported the internet threats to the police that Eric began keeping a diary of plans to attack Columbine on April 19, 1999. It wasn't till the week-of that they changed plans suddenly to the 20th. It's been speculated that they originally planned to attack on the 19th to coincide with the anniversaries of both the Oklahoma bombing and the government fiasco in Waco but no one really knows for sure why they chose the date they did, in the end.
The "graphic content" from Eric's websites that was spoken of so fearfully by the media at the time referred primarily to images of characters straight from Doom II's screen. The "demonic pictures" in his notebook that were so shocking? More Doom pics. The horned guy is one of the Doom II bosses/gods. Eric kept a lot of Doom and Quake graphics on his AOL website as well but far scarier than Eric's gaming sites were the rants he dumped onto his homepage about hating the world at large: Everyone in it, not just jocks or blacks or whites or rich people... Everyone.
In the months prior to the shootings, Eric and Dylan both recorded on video quite a bit about what they wanted to do to their school and the people in it, via the outlet of video tapes (including the Hitmen for Hire and Basement videos), school reports, and the media-hyped journals and diaries, wherein Eric detailed out floorplans of Columbine and noted when the lunch room was most crowded (see more of Eric's writings). In the videos he and Dylan shot in Eric's basement bedroom (wherein they showed off the way their weapons fit under their trenchcoats) he and Dylan both go off about the 'stuck up bitches' they go to school with, Dylan referring to two by name: Rachel and Jen (during the shootings Rachel Scott was killed and Jennifer Doyle was badly wounded). This sound clip excerpted from the videos was censored by the media due to the cursing so it's hard to understand but if you listen closely you can hear the gist of it.
Eric died in the library from self-inflicted head wound: he placed the barrel of his sawed-off shotgun in his mouth and pulled the trigger. Conspiracy theories have abounded regarding his and Dylan's deaths. Fueled largely by the positioning of the bodies in the forensic graphic photos unlawfully released by the National Enquirer. However, the photos were taken only after the bomb squad had thoroughly searched both of the dead shooters for live bombs and boobytraps: Neither body appears in the position he was initially found in as the forensics team wasn't allowed in until after the bomb squad was finished.
The Harris family moved from Littleton not long after the shootings, for obvious reasons. In the interest of trying to reforge their lives, they appreciate the thoughts of well-wishers but don't want to be contacted by anyone about Columbine.
Eric Harris killed eight of the 13 victims during the massacre and injured 17 students. For a list of the victims of the shooting click here.