Why were we so riveted? First of all, nothing like that had ever unfolded on our screens in real time. Most school shootings involved far fewer victims and were over by the time anyone heard about them. But these kids were reporting via cellphones from inside the school, and reporters were broadcasting their distress. Secondly, the perpetrators and victims were only a few years younger than us (and their yearbook photos made them look even younger). It was horrifying, and brought up all sorts of discussions about jocks vs. goths, outcasts vs. popular kids, bullying, gun control laws, and the sadness and rage of teenagers.
This week I picked up the book "Columbine" by Dave Cullen. And I was stunned to learn that nearly every single thing I knew about the tragedy was wrong. It took 9 years of interviews, research and digging for Cullen to figure out the definitive truth of the situation, and it's not at all what was reported in 1999. Police cover-ups, false assumptions that may have cost lives, countless self-perpetuating rumors -- everything's explained in this thoughtful, thorough book. None of the kids were accurately portrayed by the media.
"Columbine" tells the real story of the killers and their intentions, the victims, the town, the aftermath and the build-up to that day, and I can't recommend it enough. It's a tough read at times, but worth it.