El Paso County Sheriff's Department Conducts Independent Columbine Investigation
5:24 AM, Apr 17, 2002
The results of a four-month probe into the shooting death of a Columbine student was released Wednesday, and the findings are different from what the Jefferson County Sheriff's Department concluded.
According to an independent investigation by the El Paso County Sheriff's Department, it was student gunman Eric Harris who fired the three shots that killed student Daniel Rohrbough.
This differs from Jeffco's conclusion that it was Dylan Klebold who fired the fatal bullets.
This also differs from the allegations of the Rohrbough family, who had claimed that their son was accidentally shot by Denver Police Sgt. Daniel O'Shea.
After analyzing ballistics test, reconstructing the bullet path and the crime scene, and conducting new interviews with witnesses, El Paso County Sheriff's investigators said that they came up with a solid conclusion -- that it was Harris who killed Danny Rohrbough.
The investigation concluded that O'Shea was not present when Rohrbough was killed.
According to the 3,000 page report, O'Shea didn't get to the side of the school where Rohrbough was until more than 30 minutes after Rohrbough was dead.
"It vindicates what these families have been saying for years now. No matter what you think about who killed Danny Rohrbough, when you look at the forensic evidence -- the hard, firm forensic evidence -- you cannot come to the conclusion that Jefferson County came to," Rohrbough family lawyer Barry Arrington said.
"Jefferson County's false information, Jefferson County's refusal to provide evidence, Jefferson County' defiance to orders to release information, all of which ... has led to where we are today," Arrington said.
"Based upon evidence, that they had access to -- which we never had access to -- their conclusions about there not being friendly fire are reasonable," Arrington said.
Rohrbough's family said that it believes the El Paso County Sheriff's Department's conclusions are correct and is relieved to finally know the truth after three years.
"Nothing changes the fact that Dan's not here but at least something that may have happened to him is explained, and I think that will be helpful," father Brian Rohrbough said.
The family still says that Jefferson County's investigation led to impossible scenarios and wrong conclusions, which they call grossly negligent.
"It is unfortunate that Jefferson County wasn't forthcoming and didn't tell us the truth from the very beginning," Daniel Rohrbough's mother, Sue Petrone, said.
The Denver Police Department was also pleased with the results of the investigation.
"The clear findings by the El Paso County Sheriff's investigators again confirm that Sgt. O'Shea and other Denver officers who responded to the Columbine tragedy did their job professionally and courageously while they risked their lives to intervene in a massive, chaotic and deadly crime scene," Denver police chief Gerry Whitman said in a press release Wednesday.
"It is also tragic that Sgt. O'Shea has been subjected to public accusations claiming that he took a life. When in fact he courageously risked his own life to save others."
O'Shea did not want to make a statement, but has told 7NEWS that he knew he did not hurt anyone on that day.
The independent investigation into the circumstances of Rohrbough's death was launched after numerous questions and conflicting accounts arose as to the nature of Rohrbough's death.
Jefferson County Sheriff John Stone asked the El Paso County Sheriff's Department to conduct the investigation because its deputies were not involved in the initial response to the shooting attack.
Rohrbough was one of 12 students and a teacher killed by Klebold and Harris during the April 20, 1999, rampage at Columbine High School. Harris and Klebold then killed themselves in the school library.