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Thursday, 6 July, 2000, 14:00 GMT 15:00 UK
Columbine audio tapes released
Columbine students
Survivors still find it hard to come to terms with the tragedy
An audio recording of the frantic conversations between students and the emergency operator during the attack on Columbine High School has been released.

Twelve students and one teacher were killed in April 1999 by two teenage gunmen before they killed themselves.


Don't let him close his eyes

Emergency operator

We're having a hard time keeping him alert

Teacher in Columbine library
Families of the victims won a court order to have the tapes released to use them as evidence in their negligence lawsuits against the Jefferson County Sheriff's office.

They argue that sheriff's deputies did not act swiftly enough to rescue victims in the school.

The sheriff's office has denied the allegations.

Edited Tapes

The tapes, which record the horror of the event and run to 45 hours, have been edited to remove the sounds of the killings and shooting. They are being sold in CD Rom format at $28 each.

The conversation between emergency operator and children inside the school library were also edited to remove all references to names.

The recordings include dispatch information of the radio traffic on channels used by various agencies responding to the emergency.

Columbine killers on security camera
The killers were caught on security camera
On the tape, the emergency operator is heard to tell students and a teacher in the school's library to "encourage" wounded teacher Dave Sanders as he lay bleeding to death from gunshot wounds.

"Don't let him close his eyes," the dispatcher said.

"We're having a hard time keeping him alert," another teacher told the operator.

Police teams reached Sanders nearly four hours after the shooting started.

Investigation criticised

Some families of the victims have criticised the sheriff's official report of the massacre and have called for the release of raw investigative material.

Recordings of radio traffic from five police channels did not directly answer questions about whether police deputies were denied permission to fire at the killers.

Angela Sanders, the murdered teacher's daughter, argues in a lawsuit that a sharpshooter on the roof of a nearby house had a "clear view" of one of the gunmen through a library window, but was told not to fire.

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America and the gun
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