04/20/2007

Tech rant reminiscent of Columbine

By Patrick O'Driscoll
USA TODAY

LITTLETON, Colo. — Angry video, photos and writings by Virginia Tech gunman Cho Seung Hui have stunned families of the Columbine High School massacre through eerie parallels to footage and words left by the Colorado killers eight years ago Friday.

"It's very hard to watch because it is so reminiscent," said Tom Mauser, 55, whose son Daniel was among 12 students and a teacher killed by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. In his contempt-filled rants, repeatedly broadcast Wednesday and Thursday, Cho referred to "martyrs like Eric and Dylan." Like them, he posed in dark garb and gloves, a backwards cap and ammo-filled vest and brandished the guns he used on Monday to kill at least 30 people and injure 28 others before killing himself.

Columbine surveillance videos showed similar figures as Harris and Klebold stalked the halls of their suburban Denver school. They wounded 24 others before killing themselves in the deadliest high school shootings in U.S. history.

"This shooter's tapes, they echo the 'basement tapes,' " said former Columbine student Brooks Brown, referring to home videos Harris and Klebold secretly made in the weeks before their rampage. The tapes were shown once to families and news media eight months after the killings and then sealed. The teens showed off their arsenal of guns, bullets and homemade bombs. They also recorded chilling goodbyes.

Columbine is closed today, as it has been every anniversary since the assault. On Thursday, flags at the school flew at half-staff, and the marquee sign outside the main entrance bore this message: "A time to remember, a time to hope."

Harris and Klebold left voluminous, profanity-filled writings and images. They blamed bullies and assailed the campus culture. Cho, too, condemned his schoolmates' "debaucheries," branding them "snobs" and "brats" obsessed with luxuries.

"He behaved the same, talked the same, did the menacing poses," said Brown, 26, a one-time friend of Harris whom the killer threatened a year before the attack. "It shows he has really internalized a lot of the pain, similar to Eric and Dylan."

Brian Rohrbough, 48, whose son Daniel also died at Columbine, said the similarities are why "I've been fighting for seven years to get the 'basement tapes' and all the other material released. How much blood is enough?"

Noting the link to Columbine's anniversary, Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter asked residents to join a silent tribute today for the Virginia Tech victims. "The people of Colorado will stand in solemn silence on the anniversary of that dreadful day with the people of Virginia as they grieve," Ritter said.

Copyright 2007 USA Today

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