Photos Of Dead Columbine Gunmen To Appear In Enquirer

Sheriff's Office Investigating Leak Of Harris, Klebold Pictures

The Jefferson County sheriff's office was investigating the leak of crime-scene photographs of the dead Columbine High School gunmen that were to be published in the National Enquirer.

The Boca Raton, Fla.-based supermarket tabloid announced it will publish the pictures in Friday's edition. Editor-in-chief David Perel said a story headlined, "How the Two High School Gunmen Really Died," will also run with the color photographs.

They reportedly show Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold dead from self-inflicted gunshot wounds in the school library after the April 20, 1999 shootings.

Twelve students, a teacher and the gunmen died in the nation's worst school shooting.

Perel refused to say how he got the pictures or whether he paid for them.

"These images bring home in living color the fact that there's nothing romantic about an act like this," Perel said. "These people met a brutal end. It's never an easy call to make when you show images as powerful and gripping as these. It's certainly going to have people talking around the country for weeks."

Sheriff's spokeswoman Jacki Tallman said the source of the leak has not been found and county officials will ask the tabloid not to run them.

"I don't believe that will have any impact on what they choose to do," she said.

Brian Rohrbough, whose 15-year-old son Daniel died in the shootings, said he does not oppose their publication.

"My first thought is that this is how Klebold and Harris should be remembered," he said. "But the other thought is that Jeffco should not have leaked these photos."

Columbine High School principal Frank DeAngelis notified his staff Wednesday of the impending publication. He also was preparing an automated phone message for all parents "just to give them a heads-up," said Rick Kaufman, spokesman for Jefferson County schools.

Perel said the decision to publish the pictures came after much discussion.

The determining factors were the absence of victims in the photos and the news value of the accompanying story, which addresses a theory that Klebold may have been killed by Harris.

Investigators said Klebold was found with his TEC-DC9 pistol in his right hand, though he was left-handed and was found with an apparent gunshot wound to his left temple.

Tallman said the investigator erred in describing Klebold as still having a grip on his gun. She said his right hand landed on the gun after he shot himself.

7NEWS analyzed the crime scene reports and said that the documents from the high school shooting investigation make it clear that Klebold was holding a gun in his right hand when he fell for the last time, and the gun was found under his right leg.

For more than two years, Jefferson County investigators have maintained that the murderous rampage through Columbine ended at about 12:08 p.m., when Eric Harris and Klebold turned their guns on themselves and committed suicide in the school library.

Sources said that it's hard to picture how he could have shot himself in the left temple, and it's even harder to see how he could have shot himself in the head and still held on to the gun as he fell so that it would land under his right leg.

If Klebold did not kill himself, then new questions are unanswered, including what Harris did between the time Klebold died and Harris' own suicide, as well as if a quicker response by authorities might have prevented some violence if the shootings ended later than officials had earlier stated, 7NEWS reported.

Klebold's autopsy, which may help clear the discrepancy, has not been released at the request of his parents.

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