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The head of the Colorado school district where Columbine High School is located has a drastic proposal aimed at thwarting would-be mass killers and tragedy pilgrims who have a “morbid fascination” with the massacre that happened there — tear the building down.
“The tragedy at Columbine High School in 1999 serves as a point of origin for this contagion of school shootings,” Superintendent Jason Glass wrote in a letter to parents and others in the Jefferson County School District. “School shooters refer to and study the Columbine shooting as a macabre source of inspiration and motivation.”
Glass said troubled people known as “Columbiners” are drawn to the school in the Denver suburb of Littleton.
“Most of them are there to satisfy curiosity or a macabre, but harmless, interest in the school,” he wrote. “For a small group of others, there is a potential to do harm.”
Case in point: 18-year-old Sol Pais who traveled in April to Colorado and had a suspicious fascination with the massacre forced Denver-area schools to close before taking her own life.
“In 1999, no guidance existed on what to do with a building such as Columbine High School,” Glass’ letter reads. “Today, school safety experts recommend tearing down buildings where school shootings take place. Since the morbid fascination with Columbine has been increasing over the years, rather than dissipating, we believe it is time for our community to consider this option for the existing Columbine building.”
Glass’ proposal came less than two months after the 20th anniversary of the April 20, 1999, massacre that was planned by two troubled students who murdered a dozen classmates and a teacher before they killed themselves.
Since then, experts have said, the Columbine killings have become a source of sick inspiration to other mass killers. The Washington Post, using police reports, published articles and various data bases, has calculated that as of Friday, more than 228,000 students “have experienced gun violence at school since Columbine.”
The tragedy at Columbine also changed the way new schools are built. Now things like buzzers, security cameras and bulletproof glass are as common as books and laptops at newly constructed schools.
Glass said they are “exploring the concept of asking voters for an additional $60 million to $70 million at the polls at some point in the future to construct a new high school for Columbine.”
Under Glass’ proposal, the existing building would be demolished and replaced with fields with “controlled entry points.” The Hope Memorial Library, which was built after the massacre, could be preserved and perhaps serve as the “cornerstone” for the new building, which would be built to the west of the current building.
The name Columbine High School would be retained and the “current school mascot and colors would be unchanged,” Glass wrote.
Tearing down the scene of a horrible crime is not a new idea.
The Sandy Hook Elementary School, where in 2012 a gunman killed 26 children and staffers with a Bushmaster AR-15 rifle before killing himself, was demolished two years later and a new school was built.
So was the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, where 26 people were shot dead in November 2017.
As was the West Nickel Mines School in Pennsylvania where five Amish girls were murdered in 2006. That was replaced with another one-room schoolhouse.