Thirteen were killed at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999. The youngest 14, the oldest was 47. Student athletes, scholars, writers, artists, and, an educator. Each of the slain had a story, a life, a family and friends and other loved ones who cared for them deeply.
It’s been 20 years since their lives were stolen in a hail of bullets, but the memories are still fresh for those who knew and loved them.
They are listed in alphabetical order.
Cassie Renee Bernall
Born on November 6, 1981, Cassie was 17 when she was killed. Cassie was buried in a white coffin. Mourners were able to sign it and her mother wrote, “Bunny Rabbit, my friend, my buddy, my daughter, my mentor. I will love you and miss you forever. I promise to take good care of your kitty. I know that Jesus is elated to have you in His presence… Your courage and commitment to Christ have gained you a special place in heaven, and I am proud to call you my daughter. I love you so much, Mom.”
Steve Robert Curnow
Fourteen-year-old Steven, the youngest of the Columbine victims, dreamed of one day being a top gun Navy pilot. He loved soccer and played and was a part-time referee. His father was a soccer coach. Steven was also a massive Star Wars fan. He had seen all the movies and could recite the dialogue by heart. Other Star Wars fans started a petition drive to have a special card in a Star Wars board game be made to honor his memory. Star Wars I: the Phantom Menace, premiered May 19, 1999, a month after his death.
Corey Tyler DePooter
Seventeen-year-old wrestler, golfer and in-line skater Corey DePooter always wanted to be an US Marine, so a year and two weeks after his death, on May 3, 2000, Corey was made an honorary Marine during a graveside ceremony in Chapel Hill Memorial Gardens in Littleton. The teen who loved fishing had this poem read at his funeral:
Let me go back from the traveled road
Away from crowds pushing,
To a quiet hill where the woods are still,
Serene ‘neath a clean, blue sky
Kelly Ann Fleming
Kelly Fleming and her family had only lived in Littleton for a year and a half having moved from Arizona. She told her mother a few months before she was killed that she wasn’t “shy any more.” Kelly was a songwriter, poet and short story writer. Her love of books and writing inspired her dream of being a published author. She was just 16 when her life was taken.
Matthew Joseph Kechter
Matt Ketcher was a weight-lifter and football player. And he was also a member of the National Honor Society, named as such posthumously. For Matt, academics came before sports. He’d been set to attend the University of Colorado, After he died, the University sent a jersey with his Columbine High School football team number, 70, inscribed to his brother as a way to honor the gifted student athlete.
Daniel Connor Mauser
Daniel Mauser, 15, was a straight-A student who had an affinity for mathematics and science and won the “Stretch for Excellence” for being named the top biology student in his class. Quiet, Daniel was nonetheless a debate team member. An athlete, he enjoyed skiing, hiking, and biking. Daniel volunteered at a local hospital. He was accepted posthumously as a member of the National Honor Society in the fall of 1999.
Daniel Lee Rohrbough
The circumstances around the death of 15-year-old Daniel Rohrbough at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999 are tragic and heart-wrenching. Most just wish to celebrate the teen’s life. He loved computers and any electronics; he had a knack. Daniel was set to get his learners permit just before his death. Daniel worked in his father’s store and on grandfather’s farm harvesting wheat, something he’d done since he was a toddler.
Rachel Joy Scott
Rachel Scott, 17, dreamed of being an actress and played the lead in a school play. She was writing her own play, liked photography and was an active member of Celebration Christian Fellowship church. As an evangelical Christian, she hoped to reach as many as possible.
Posthumously her life would be celebrated in ‘Rachel’s Challenge.’
Isaiah Eamon Shoels
Isaiah Shoels, 18, had big dreams: attend arts college after graduation, become a comedian and as a musician (he played keyboard) he hoped to be a record producer and music executive. Despite a heart condition, he played football and he was a wrestler. After graduating he wanted to attend an arts college. At his funeral, Columbine principal Frank DeAngelis said, “Isaiah Shoels, thank you for having such a positive impact on our school and on our family. You will be greatly missed, and I love you, my dear child.”
John Robert Tomlin
Sixteen-year-old John Tomlin was a hard worker who spent his days after school at a local nursery hauling trees. He belonged to a church youth group. Tomlin loved his family, his new girlfriend, his church and Chevrolet trucks. Having just gotten his license, he’s been saving up since he was 14 and bought an old Chevy pickup that he had been working for since he was 14. Tomlin drove to Mexico once to help build a house for a family in need.
Lauren Dawn Townsend
Lauren Townsend, 18, was set to graduate in May of 1999. She was captain of the girls’ varsity volleyball team, a member of the National Honor Society and might have been the Class of 1999 valedictorian. She was an artist and volunteered at a local animal shelter. She was set to attend Colorado State University after graduation. She was celebrated by her teachers for being kind and for academic excellence.
Kyle Albert Velasquez
If anyone was an innocent it was Kyle Velasquez. The 16-year-old affectionate and helpful boy who loved computers suffered a stroke as an infant which left him with an intellectual disability. But that did not stop him from being kind and generous even when faced with ridicule by peers. His father was a Navy veteran so Kyle was buried with military honors in Fort Logan National Cemetery in Denver. A flag was flown at half-mast in Kyle’s honor at the state Capitol.
William ‘Dave’ Sanders
He was a hero and saved the lives of untold number of students.
William ‘Dave’ Sanders, 47, had been teaching at Columbine for a quarter century. He was then the computer and business educator. He was also the girls’ basketball and softball coach.
Sanders was survived by his wife, four children and five grandchildren.
Described as a “teacher, a friend, a mentor and an inspiration,” when the killers began firing outside the school he ran to the cafeteria and sounded the alarm and along with two of the school’s janitors, helped get more than 100 students out of the path of danger.