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Monday, April 26, 1999 Published at 16:31 GMT 17:31 UK

World: Americas

America mourns pupils

A huge crowd of mourners gathered to pay its respects

US Vice-President Al Gore joined thousands of mourners at a memorial service in Denver for the victims of the shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado.

He pledged to replace the culture of violence and mayhem and make it harder for children to obtain weapons.

Two students shot 13 people at the school in the Denver suburb of Littleton before turning their guns on themselves.

An estimated 70,000 gathered to share their grief at the giant outdoor memorial service near the school in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains.

US Vice-President Al Gore pledges to replace the culture of violence
Two school students performed a song they composed.

Religious leaders preached hope, while local officials and students praised the bravery and love in their community.

'We can say no more'

Vice-President Al Gore tried to give some words of comfort to families, friends and the American nation.

[ image: The vice-president and his wife Tipper lay flowers]
The vice-president and his wife Tipper lay flowers
"At such a time, we need each other, and the heart of America aches with yours."

He said he had no idea what had caused such evil at Columbine High School, but he said parents should reach out to children to replace a culture of mayhem and indifference with meaning and love.

He also spoke out against the violence in modern America.

"Parents, we can stop the violence and the hate. In a culture rife with violence, where too many young people place too little value on a human life, we can rise up and we can say no more."

(Click here for a map showing the school layout)

Many in the crowd carried pictures of those killed and carried balloons in the school's colors.

Some said prayers before releasing thousands of balloons into the air as bagpipes mournfully played "Amazing Grace".

[ image:  ]
Archbishop Charles Chaput offered prayers for the dead children and their families.

"Forgive those who created this tragedy and in our grace help us to forgive them as well," he said.

The first of the funerals of the victims took place earlier on Sunday.

BBC Correspondent Rob Watson reports
Investigators are still trying to piece together the tragic events when pupils Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, went on a shooting rampage.

Earlier, the governor of Colorado, Bill Owens, suggested the parents of the two gunmen could face prosecution, while investigators are saying they are increasingly convinced the two boys may have had accomplices, given the scale of the assault on the school.

[ image:  ]

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