Dylan Bennet Klebold, born in Denver, Colorado on September 11, 1981, was the youngest of Thomas and Susan Klebold’s two children. After gunning down innocent students at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999, he shot himself.
The Little League pitcher and Boy Scout would grow up feeling disenfranchised, alone and rejected by peers. Suicidal and depressed, Klebold would first commit mass murder before taking his own life as he’d vowed to do in his journal.
His mother Sue would later write that her son did not display a violent nature. Klebold would say on a video he made with fellow mass murderer Eric Harris that his parents once saw him with a trench coat on under which was hidden a sawed-off shotgun: “They didn’t even know it was there.”
Much of what is known about Klebold comes from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office’s official report on the Columbine Massacre. Here’s what you need to know:
1. A ‘Gentle Boy,’ His Parents Told Investigators, Klebold Was Enrolled in an Elementary School Program for High Intellectual Potential Students
As a young boy, Klebold, who had a brother, Byron, three years older, played youth sports; T-ball, baseball and soccer. He attended Normandy Elementary School in Littleton for first and second grade but was transferred to Governor’s Ranch Elementary School where he was part of the Challenging High Intellectual Potential Students program. He was described as being quiet and timid and his parents would later tell investigators, he was “somewhat sheltered” and as such, when he moved into middle school, he struggled. But his parents chalked it up to what they thought was a transition not easy for any child. Klebold went on to Ken Caryl Middle School. Where he’d meet a boy named Eric Harris.
In high school, he wrote in his journal that he loathed his life going back as far as when he was in day care.
“Oooh god I HATE my life, I want to die really bad right now — let’s see what I have that’s
good: A nice family, a good house, food, a couple of good friends, & possessions. What’s
bad — no girls (friends or girlfriends), no other friends except a few, nobody accepting me
even though I want to be accepted, me doing badly & being intimidated in any & all sports,
me looking weird & acting shy …”
2. In High School, Klebold Was Involved in School Play & Video Production & Built His Own Computer
At Columbine High School, Klebold was part of the school’s theater group and worked doing stagecraft for school plays, operating lights and sound for productions. He was also very involved in creating video productions for the Columbine High’s Rebel News Network. A computer aficionado and savant who built his own computer, he helped to run the school computer server.
Already a lonely and outcast teen, his parents told investigators that their son was “extraordinarily shy and did not have a
girlfriend but did socialize with different groups of friends.”
Many of those friends were kids who played video games and were into computers.
But in his journal he said he had virtually no friends save just a few.
Tom Klebold told investigators “as far as he knew, Dylan never showed any fascination with guns.” And the JCSO wrote that according to friends, “nothing in his behavior gave clues of what he and Harris were planning.”
3. Despite His Behaviors & Being Arrested With Harris For Breaking Into a Van & Stealing Computer Parts, He Was Accepted to the University of Arizona as a Computer Science Major
In January of 1998, Klebold and Harris were arrested after breaking into a van where they stole electronics and computer parts. They were put in a juvenile diversion program and had to pay fines, attend anger management classes, therapy and do community service. After, the charges were dropped. That was in February of 1999.
Klebold’s parents said he had been accepted at the University of Arizona and a month before the massacre, they drove to the college for a visit and to “pick out Dylan’s dorm room.” They told authorities they never saw anything unusual in his behavior.
4. But ‘VoDKa,’ as he Referred to Himself, Was in a Very Dark Place Evidenced by His Behavior & His Journals & Videos. Klebold Self-Harmed by Cutting Himself
In a planner, a journal, and a school notebook, what was really going on with Klebold was revealed. Read more about his journal here.
Investigators spoke to classmates and kids who knew him after the mass murder and he was described as a normal teen, the JCSO wrote in its report. But his writing, drawings and videos tell another story.
The cover of his 1997 journal reads, ‘Fact: People are so unaware…well, Ignorance is bliss I guess…that would explain my depression.”
He described being an outsider, a lonely, depressed and suicidal teen. Klebold described hating his existence and spoke regularly about suicide and regularly self-harmed.
“I was Mr. Cutter tonight — I have 11 depressioners on my right hand now …”
In his journal, however, he wrote about loving a girl deeply but she did not have the same feeling sand indeed, may not ever even have known. Investigators belie, based on his writing and interviews that “e did not indicate that he ever actually spoke to any of them. He even went so far as to write letters to one girl but it appears he never sent them because they remained in his journal.”
5. Before Long, His Suicidal Ideation Morphed Into Homicidal Ideation & Then, Homicide
While still suicidal, Klebold began contemplating using a gun to kill others and then himself and wrote about finding someone to help him get a gun. This was in 1997 when he was a sophomore at Columbine.
“The lonely man strikes with absolute rage.”
At the end of his junior year, he wrote in Harris’ yearbook about committing a mass murder, “…killing enemies, blowing up stuff, killing cops!! My wrath for January’s incident will be godlike …”
In his math homework notebook, investigators found “eight pages of writings and drawings that appeared to be written the day before April 20. One part began, ‘About 26.5 hours from now the judgement will begin. Difficult but not impossible, necessary, nerve-wracking & fun. What fun is life without a little death? It’s interesting, when i’m (sic) in my human form,
knowing i’m going to die. Everything has a touch of triviality to it.’”
Klebold’s last journal entry:
“Walk in, set bombs at 11:09, for 11:17
Drive to Clemete Park. Gear up.
Get back by 11:15
Park cars. set car bombs for 11:18
get out, go to outside hill, wait.
When first bombs go off, attack.