The mother of one of the attackers at Columbine High School in Colorado says there is a “contagion” of mass shootings spreading across the country.
Sue Klebold’s teenage son was one of two students who attacked Columbine High School in Littleton in 1999.
“We don’t do this intentionally, but we glorify shooters by showing the damage they’ve done — all the crying, all the empty seats — and for people with rage that has a particular appeal for them,” Klebold told The New York Times.
Wearing trench coats, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris used sawed-off shotguns and explosives to kill 13 people at Columbine before killing themselves.
The attack has become a template for other school shootings, including the recent attack that killed 10 people at Santa Fe High School in Texas earlier this month, the Times reported.
In the Texas attack, 17-year-old Dimitrios Pagourtzis is charged with capital murder. Authorities say he used a sawed-off shotgun in the attack and wore a black trench coat with a Communist hammer-and-sickle medallion on his collar — similar to a button one of the Columbine gunmen had attached to his boot.
Klebold said seeing the images of the Santa Fe gunman’s medallion was painful.
It was like the shooter was being her son “all over again,” Klebold said.
“I do believe there is a contagion,” she said.
Klebold said she was shocked by the letters she would get from people praising her son as heroic or “the girls who say, ‘I wish I could have his baby.’ ”
Nikolas Cruz, the man accused of carrying out the mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla., in February, has also reportedly been receiving romantic fan mail and money from supporters.
Frank DeAngelis was principal during the Columbine attack and remained in the post until 2014, when the students who were in kindergarten at the time of the shooting graduated from the high school.
He said he’s concerned that young high school students still relate to the gunmen.
“It worries me that even now, kids who were not even born during Columbine High School are still making reference to Columbine,” DeAngelis said.
“I don’t want people to feel helpless and hopeless, but I think what those two did, what they wrote in their journal is: ‘We’ll never be forgotten’ and ‘We’ll be remembered forever.’ And I believe they’re fulfilling that," he added.
Peter Langman, a psychologist, has been created a mass-shooter diagram to trace the influence of the Columbine shooting and runs the website SchoolShooters.info.
He told the newspaper that he’s tracked the Columbine influence to more than 30 school or violent attacks.