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Sunday, April 25, 1999 Published at 01:16 GMT 02:16 UK


World: Americas

Denver massacre 'planned for a year'

The two boys killed 13 people and then themselves

The Colorado school massacre which left 15 people dead was planned for a year and timed to coincide with Hitler's birthday, police have said after uncovering a diary at the home of one of the suspects.

Denver
Pupils Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, went on a shooting rampage at Columbine High School in the Denver suburb of Littleton, on Tuesday afternoon, killing 12 fellow pupils and a teacher. They then turned their guns on themselves.

The diary showed that they were "going for the big kill", Jefferson County Sheriff John Stone said. It revealed that they had worked out when the cafeteria was fullest and identified hiding places in the school, he said.

(Click here for a map showing the school layout)

The sheriff said the diary - which used German phrases - showed the attack was planned to the minute. He did not say which suspect kept the diary.

The news came on the day of the funeral of Rachel Scott, 17, the first victim of the massacre to be buried.

Tighter gun laws

US President Bill Clinton has responded to the massacre by announcing plans to tighten gun laws.

He said he intended to introduce bills in Congress next week to tackle the illegal trade in guns and the sale of weapons to juveniles.


Presidential adviser Sidney Blumenthal: We're advocating a whole new set of gun laws
In his weekly radio address, Mr Clinton said the proposed legislation would provide money to help schools pay for metal detectors and counsellors.

But he also called on America's parents to ''turn off the television, pay attention to what's going on on the computer screen, [and] refuse to buy products that glorify violence".

Parents blamed

Sheriff Stone also touched on parental responsibility, saying that along with the diary, investigators had found a shotgun barrel and bomb-making materials.

"A lot of this stuff was clearly visible and the parents should have known. I think parents should be accountable for their kids' actions," he said.


Stephen Sackur: Local people trying to come to terms with the tragedy
The sheriff also said he believed other people were involved in the attack.

"I have been concerned all along there was too much weaponry, too many bombs _ for it being physically possible for two people to carry in that morning."

More than 30 bombs have been found, including pipe bombs, timed explosives and improvised hand grenades.

'Hoax' e-mail

However police have said an e-mail containing threats of more violence was probably a hoax.

A message which was thought to have been a suicide note said: "You may think the horror ends with the bullet in my head, but you wouldn't be so lucky ... more extensive death is to come ... you have until April 26th. Goodbye.''

Texas massacre plot

The developments came as five teenagers in Texas were charged with conspiring to kill pupils and teachers in a similar attack.


Malcolm Brabant: Family friends are being questioned
Police believe the boys, all 14, had been planning to carry out an assault at Danforth Junior High School in Wimberley since January and had already drawn up a hit list of teachers and students.

The teenagers face charges of conspiring to commit murder and arson and to manufacture explosives.



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