Vicitms of Columbine honored

LITTLETON, Colo. (AP) – Under gray skies and a light drizzle, Cindy Thirouin and her two children placed red roses on 13 crosses Wednesday to honor the memory of her stepfather, teacher Dave Sanders, and 12 students shot and killed at Columbine High School six years ago.

Thirouin said she took her children, Tiffany and Tyler, to the grassy oval memorial at Chapel Hill cemetery not to mourn their grandfather but to celebrate his life. They sometimes laughed as they walked among the 5-foot-tall crosses.

“After six years, it’s getting easier, and it’s time to move on,” she said.

No formal observances were planned on the sixth anniversary of the day Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris attacked the high school in south suburban Denver with bombs and gunfire. It was the worst school shooting in the nation’s history.

Friends and families of the victims stopped at the Chapel Hill memorial in pairs or small groups, pausing among the crosses and 13 memorial trees, all blossoming with white flowers. Two of the victims are buried there.

Darrell and Sandy Scott dropped off a basket of pink flowers tied with a shiny pink ribbon next to the grave of their daughter Rachel, one of the 12 students killed.

Family friend Paul Jackson of Dallas came to spend the anniversary with the Scotts. “Just to have a moment of closeness with people who were directly involved is a special moment,” he said.

Jackson and other friends hugged the couple beside Rachel’s marker.

Sharon Scholle wiped away tears as she left the cemetery with her husband, Frank. They knew the families of slain students Steven Curnow and Lauren Townsend but hadn’t been to the memorial before.

“We just remember the day very well,” Sharon Scholle said. “We think about it every [anniversary].”

Columbine teachers gathered at the school Wednesday for a quiet remembrance. The campus was closed to outsiders and students were given the day off, although the building was open to victims’ families. Teachers reported for an in-service day and had breakfast together.

Some teachers gathered in the library, where many of the victims died, for a moment of silence in memory of the victims. Principal Frank DeAngelis read aloud the victims’ names.

Of the roughly 140 teachers and staff who taught at Columbine at the time of the shootings, about 30 remain. DeAngelis was principal then, as well.

Jefferson County Schools spokesman Rick Kaufman said school officials were hoping for as normal a day as possible.

“It’s difficult because it is a reminder,” Kaufman said. “Canceling classes is an opportunity for us to remember the victims – not necessarily the tragedy, but those 13 that died. It’s a reflection back but we’re also looking forward.”

A study on what led Harris and Klebold to carry out the attack is on hold because the gunmen’s parents have decided not to participate, said Del Elliott, director of the Center for the Study and Prevention of Violence at the University of Colorado.

The parents are crucial to understanding how the teens’ families, peers and school situations influenced their behavior, Elliott said Wednesday.

“We’re going to have a big hole, with no idea of the family context, the role … parenting practices and family situations might have played, either as a positive factor or a negative factor,” he said.

Jefferson County sheriff’s officials, school officials and others had agreed to allow him access to information never publicly released.

Elliott would not elaborate on the families’ reasons.

“I respect their decision. It was not made hastily,” he said.