Rare interview with Columbine killer Dylan Klebold’s parents

New York Times pundit David Brooks, whom I recently cited for a fine column on what motivated Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris to murder 13 classmates and teachers at Columbine High School some 5 years ago, has pulled a real coup with his new article, in which he actually interviews Klebold’s parents.

One thing that I — and I suspect everyone else who followed the case — wondered about endlessly was how the parents of the two teenagers felt when they heard the news. What went on in their minds? How did they cope? Did they blame themselves? Were they shocked or was it a fuilfillment of their worst nightmare?

Finally, Brooks takes us into the minds of Klebolds parents, if only briefly. The column is an outgrowth of the earlier one, which elicited an email from the Klebolds and led to this interview. Brooks tells us:

That first night, their lawyer said to them, “Dylan isn’t here anymore for people to hate, so people are going to hate you.” Even as we spoke this week, Tom had in front of him the poll results, news stories and documents showing that 83 percent of Americans had believed the parents were partly to blame. Their lives are now pinioned to this bottomless question: Who is responsible?

They feel certain of one thing. “Dylan did not do this because of the way he was raised,” Susan said. “He did it in contradiction to the way he was raised.”

After the shooting, they faced a simple choice: to move away and change their names, or to go back and resume their lives. Susan thinks about leaving every day. “I won’t let them win,” Tom said. “You can’t run from something like this.”

So they live in the same house and work at the same jobs. Susan works in the community college system. “It’s amazing how long it took me to get up and say my name at a meeting, to say, `I’m Dylan Klebold’s mother,’ ” Susan says. “Dylan could have killed any number of the kids of people that I work with.”

More than anything else, they blame the bullying nature of Dylan’s classmates, but I find that inadequate. Lots of kids were bullied (including me), but they don’t conspire to kill en masse, let alone execute their sinister plan. Yet its clear that the Klebolds are truly mystified, and are secure in the belief that they did not fail their son as parents. And I’m convinced they are completely sincere.

Brooks ends:

My instinct is that Dylan Klebold was a self-initiating moral agent who made his choices and should be condemned for them. Neither his school nor his parents determined his behavior. Now his parents have been left with the terrible consequences. I’d say they are facing them bravely and honorably.

My heart has to go out to them. How does it feel to have your whole world come crashing down on your head? How do you carry on, knowing that all eyes are on you and hating you? I have to thank David Brooks, with whose political views I nearly always take issue, for his compassionate and revealing article.

UPDATE: Apparently the parents of the slain students aren’t showing the Klebolds nearly as much compassion as Brooks:

The Klebolds’ comments was criticized late Saturday by some of the victims’ parents.

“I’m horrified,” Dawn Anna, whose daughter Lauren Townsend was killed at Columbine, told The Associated Press. “I wanted an apology. I wanted a contribution to help us understand why it happened, so that it would never happen again. I didn’t hear it.”

Brian Rohrbough, father of victim Daniel Rohrbough, said he was outraged that the Klebolds likened the day of the shootings to a natural disaster in the interview with Brooks.

“This was murder,” he said. “In my opinion, what went on in their home led to Columbine.”

I certainly understand how they feel. Should the Klebolds have apologized? I don’t know.

The Discussion: 29 Comments

I can recall my share of bullies. Were a loaded firearm available at a certain time, they would have died. If anyone can honestly say otherwise, they can sit in judgment of Klebold’s parents. Were anyone to agree, they might just decide there’s more access to lethal munitions than any sane society would allow.

May 18, 2004 @ 10:00 am | Comment


Link-festival of the stars. That time where I put all the posts I found interesting this week into one giant ping-a-thon. Firstly the blogosphere was made immeasurably richer this week with the launch of Memeblog. A central blog for all memes and carni…

May 21, 2004 @ 1:11 am | Comment

Dylan was what? 17? His old enough to make his own choices. I believe that the Klebolds are NOT to blame in anyway nor should they apoligies for something they had no control over. Dylan had a mind of his own, and new what he was doing. It couldn’t of been prevented. The parents however should of took more of a concern to Dylan, for example, if your child was hiding a gun or bombs in their room do you think you would know about it? Things like that they should have known about. Which proves they wern’t in someway responsible parents. Even if they did find things like that in his room, Columbine was an accident waiting to happen.
if you don’t agree or have something to say feel free to email me at Xx_Brokendreams_xX@hotmail.com

I believe that with out Eric Harris, Dylan would not have done something like this by himself or even thought of doing it. It was Eric’s idea and Dylan would of done anything for his best friend. Eric was a big impact and influence of Dylan’s life.

March 20, 2005 @ 5:12 pm | Comment

i feel that everyone has the choice to face up to things in their life that are negative, and 99% of people who were bullied severly in school dont turn to guns and bombs for revenge. Its horiffic what happened and my heart goes out to the childrens parents, but most of all to dylan and erics parents, no-one could understand the pain they are feeling, not only have they been blaimed, they are mourning their sons, even in their outagous act, they mourn the others killed silently, that must be hell

June 10, 2005 @ 5:51 am | Comment

Why does stuff liek this only happen in the us? It is know ones fault but the american society!

June 13, 2005 @ 5:53 pm | Comment

You all are fucking losers! Shut the fuck up!! You don’t know anything about Eric and Dylan!!!

June 26, 2005 @ 9:18 am | Comment

this is retarded.the parents are not at fault.you do not have to look far to see who to blame.dylan and eric.they even said that it was their own faults.15 not 13 people lost their lives that day.eric and dylan were not only cute but they seemed to be like cool people.maybe if people were not so closed minded then this wouldnt of happened.but it did.the 13 victims parents lost their children that day.it is sad. but the klebold’s and harris familes lost so much more.the inocence of their children and they have to deal with the haunting facts forever.not knowing why.dont blame them go to http://www.rebandvodka.com and http://www.rebeldomain.com to see how much support eric and dylan have.and if the harris or klebold family is reading this soory for your loss.you raised good kids.society turned them bad.

July 5, 2005 @ 10:54 pm | Comment

R.I.P.REB and VoDka

if you have a problem with my postings tell me.rottenpicklezz@rock.com

July 5, 2005 @ 10:58 pm | Comment

Don’t blame music for Eric and Dylan’s tragic rampage at Columbine High. God bless CHS.

August 21, 2005 @ 6:25 pm | Comment

they aren’t bad at all what they did was good and I plan to do the same

September 2, 2005 @ 12:06 pm | Comment

I certanlydon’t blame dylan’s or eric’s parents for what they did, and they did it cause they weren’t gonna take any more crap from people…They die for they cause!!How many people nowdays do that??!!!”Inocent ” you say..about the “victims” well i doubt it…if they haven’t pull the trigger hard enough the gun would have never shoot a bullet!!.
So they did much for the american school systems, people take in more consideration how they threat others.
So fuck off all the people that have nothing good to say about dylan or eric!!

September 17, 2005 @ 3:02 pm | Comment

uhh…..you guys are getting off the point here. eric and dylan deserve a little sympathy because of the way they were treated, but thats still no reason to murder the innocent. they didnt kill any of the people who were picking on them. they killed all the ones who didnt.

October 27, 2005 @ 3:35 pm | Comment

the fact that they went on a muderous spree killing innocent people makes them evil. Anyone who crosses that line crosses the sympathy/no symphathy line. No matter what damage was inflicted, once you start harming innocents that no way affected you, you lose all rights as a civilized human being and should be erased from this Earth as a threat to humanity.

November 1, 2005 @ 11:28 am | Comment

I aggree that that Dylan and Eric should get some sympathy but i also aggree that they did such a bad thing words cannot describe. It i was jus recently watching a show on the history channel it was like a reanactment of co,lumbine itwasnt a movie it was a documentary if i see it again ill post it ๐Ÿ™‚ it wasnt bowling for columbine either.

November 24, 2005 @ 11:23 am | Comment

The kids was smart. Its nothing about the parents… Dylan came from a great family
And i think the reason is that Eric had the syndrome that made him into an agressive kid that wanted to kill people for almost no reason, and that dylan followed him because he was a good friend to him.

December 3, 2005 @ 5:43 pm | Comment

yeaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa kl3b0ld > ๐Ÿ˜€

December 6, 2005 @ 1:13 pm | Comment

They shouldnt apologise, nobody should. Even if both Eric and Dylan were alive, I wouldnt want them to apoligise. High school as I know it is really fucking screwed up at this point and I would lying if I didnt say that I’ve never thought about doing it at some point or another. In fact, I would do it right now if I had the chance, but I dont, and I find it much easier to lock myself away from those who torture me, but they were strong-willed and I admire that. And they didnt leave any hint’s, which if they did, would cause a scene, but they didnt do this for fame. I dont exactly know why they did it, maybe what drove them to it, but not really why. Perhap’s for revenge, warning, or something other, but in my opinion, they were hero’s.

December 10, 2005 @ 11:22 pm | Comment

dylan and eric had chosen their victims prior to the massacre. but the school had been quickly evacuated so they went on a killing spree. If they had killed as many students as they shot there would’ve been many more casualties. Maybe when i finally crack just as they did i might carry out with the same except i wont make the same mistakes they did. I already have a plan and the blueprints for my school. Why not?

December 15, 2005 @ 2:36 pm | Comment

To blame anyone but Dylan or Eric is stupid. Read the transcriptes from the basement tapes. They took all blame from the get go. Their parents have been though hell and back and for them to even utter the words “sorry” is an insault. In todays world you do what you can when it comes to raiseing kids. You as a parent trust your children arent hideing bombs or guns in their rooms. I know growing up I was never asked if I had “guns” or anything in that matter in my room. They where old enough to know the difference between right and wrong. Go to rebandvodka.com and read some of transcriptes before blameing the parents. To the Harris & Klebold families my heart goes out to you. Stay strong and please remember you raised your children the best you could have, what they did they did on their own. R.I.P Eric& Dylan

December 31, 2005 @ 12:50 pm | Comment

Eric and Dylan were both very great kids with a very fucked up story people don’t understand that when you go through so much that even simple things can make you break. I feel they were just as much victims as anyone else in this. People fuck up and make mistakes some worse then others…. THEY WERE KIDS!!! KIDS FUCK UP!!!! I love them both and if you don’t know what your talking about you need to just leave it alone…. stupid little kids idolizing them… they had good heart but they were hurt I mean fuck I’ve read like 4 books that not once mentioned their names cuse no one remembered it AFTER ALL OF THAT NO ONE REMEMBERED WTF!!!! I’m sorry if you want to hate me but this is a fucked up world and they just wanted to make a point and they chose the wrong way to do it. I LOVE YOU ERIC AND DYLAN!!!! FOREVER!!!! RIP!!!!!

January 26, 2006 @ 6:09 pm | Comment

People who want to be posers and like.. say “oh im going to do the same” are stupid! Be yourself and they didn’t do it just cause they got picked on Mmk. If you want to be all stupid and say “oh yeah im guna go blow up my school and kill everyone” skrew you, u stupid followers. Stop being so pathetic.. And FYI they didn’t like posers very much they were into people that were themselves and didn’t do what other people do so like if someone jumps off of a cliff, should everyone else? no. That’s pretty dumb, it wont solve nothing either. It’s stupid just think about it.
If people pick on you stand up for yourself and beat the fuckers down! they will stop believe me but if ur guna be all stupid and blow up the school and shoot RETARDS like they did that kinda makes you a retarded pussy shit. They were power trippin and wanted to feel like god and i can’t believe you guys are soaking up this shit like sponges how stupid is that. It’s like hitler everyone wanted to kill jews because of hitlers dominating power trip. yeah lets all raise and hand and say “HAIL HITLER” while were at it? haha just cause he’s dead

July 14, 2006 @ 6:43 am | Comment

These kids were way before their time, these kids thought way ahead of themselfs. Do the research, they planned this out for a 1+yrs they said themselfs that they didnt want people blaming the parents and the clothes and music they had, they also seem to have relied on eachother that got them to go on with this tragic event. But Eric and Dylan were right ” they loved their parents, but there was nothing their parents could do. they said that there parents would react to this as “oh.. why didnt we know” or “what could we have done to stop this.” and they were right. The other thing was how they planned this event, they really sought out this shit, and they had it built into they’re heads to go through with it, Although the stories are all cnflicting… I have read the police reports and fuck that is a mess…. it has over 1100 = pages to it and it is all conflicting. the media dosent help eaither, the media gets the stories crossed or makes up a story with bits n pieces that they have gathered.
I think it was Dylan that made this comment on one of the basement tapes that really got me thinking, You can see it on wikipwdia.com he says that he would like to hijack a plane and crash it into NY city…. woah. tell me that isnt Ironic heh, did these kids know more than us? heh, I dont know, I will not blame Eric and Dylan, everyone was at fault, and what makes me most sick is that some of the parents of the dead victims are now milking their stories and making money off they’re child death. WTF.
Open your eyes people. Look around you. I’m not condoing that Eric and Dylan were good for shooting and killing people. Im not saying that at all. But words are hurtful and look where it took/got em. We will never trully understand their motive, I mean yeah we could say they were, crazy, yeah we could say “oh they did it out of pity,” I think this are all ridiculas statements. We well never really know what was the cause, whatever it may be, they both supported one another into doing so.
One thing is forsure, we have giving them exactly what they thought/ wanted. and that was to have a movie made of this event and to be talked and known for their actions they even knew people would follow in their footsteps, and boy were they right god, they even mentioned they knew their parents would be left with the aftermath and hell of it all..
I am truly amazed at how intellegent these kids were. In 1999 I was 21 and I never ever thought of contemplating a plan such as theirs and I was bullied and taunted at school too. It was such a shock to me
18/17 yrs old acting out in such a rage, it is just so crazy!!! How blind I was to not see that something like this could happen.
I now have learned so much from this sad event… I believe that it has given me a better perspective on how to protect my kids and to teach my kids how to NOT push someone over the edge. I think all kids should NOT be sheltered. Kids need to have street smarts. Know right from wrong, we dont live in a perfect world. I believe kids should carry cell phones and be allow to have them in school as well.
Wasnt this the event in which parents wanted kids to have cell phones on them at school? and the school wouldnt allow it?
boskers1@gmail.com email me for any questions you may have or want to continue this convo.

September 19, 2006 @ 2:06 pm | Comment

I am so sorry for the Victims and thier Parents. but my heart goes out the parents of Eric and Dylan also. What they did was difently wrong. ,but to blame their parents for their actions is insane. from what i understand they were bullied for quite a period of time? they were children themselves, and the pressures in a shool are hard enough let alone being bullied on top of it. Maybe the school system should ge ttheir head out of the ground and do something about it instead of pretending bullying “doesn’t happen in our school” Get real it happens everyday in every school across the nation…what brought to that terrible day is anyone’s guess, two angry young boys who had enough ? didn’t want to talk to school authorities because that would only make it worse/ Some would say NO, but i for a fact know that it does. they were also Victims……it was a terrible thing that happened at Columbine..My hearts go out to the Harris’s and the Klebolds..and most certainly the parents who lost thier Children .

September 22, 2006 @ 1:30 am | Comment

I’m in junior high and writing an article in the school newspaper about school shootings. Its a shame that kids have been tortured so badly some way or another that they have to have to resort to taking a gun to school and shooting kids. I wonder if they told anyone how they felt and about their idea of dealing with their feelings. If they did how come something was’nt done about it BEFORE it happened. I myself, have never been in a situation of being afraid of being shot and killed by another student, but I can imagine the fear that I would feel and the fear I would see in other people if it did happen. I would never want anyone, not even the meanest kid at school to go through a situation like this. Now that these school shootings are increasing I hope that kids that have bad thoughts such as taking a gun to school would talk to someone about it, weather the person they talk to is the school consulor or even a police officer, because things like this never need to happen.Ever.

October 5, 2006 @ 3:37 am | Comment

I’m in junior high and writing an article in the school newspaper about school shootings. Its a shame that kids have been tortured so badly some way or another that they have to have to resort to taking a gun to school and shooting kids. I wonder if they told anyone how they felt and about their idea of dealing with their feelings. If they did how come something was’nt done about it BEFORE it happened. I myself, have never been in a situation of being afraid of being shot and killed by another student, but I can imagine the fear that I would feel and the fear I would see in other people if it did happen. I would never want anyone, not even the meanest kid at school to go through a situation like this. Now that these school shootings are increasing I hope that kids that have bad thoughts such as taking a gun to school would talk to someone about it, weather the person they talk to is the school consulor or even a police officer, because things like this never need to happen.Ever.

October 5, 2006 @ 3:38 am | Comment

I don’t understand why people give out so much sympathy to Eric and Dylan!! is this not the work of the devil?? there is no such thing as pain and suffering that should automatically make vengence in killing mass numbers of people exceptable. Don’t say that the Klebolds and Harris’s families dont atleast partially deserve what they got. Their sons were truly evil kids, and the fact of the point is evil kids aren’t born they are maid into who they are. Parents are the only people at a young age that have a strong enough effect on their kids while they are young. for the families who have suffered…god is your savior and comfort-not the money you can profit off of through court. i am a person of god but i cannot forgive dylan and eric for the atrocities they’ve maid on society or the grieving “innocent” families- or not yet atleast, therefore, i feel absolutely no sympathy towards eric and dylan, and i just hope that they get what they deserve in their afterlife…pain.suffering.anxiety.loss.depression.and maybe one day a savior.

October 14, 2006 @ 1:17 pm | Comment

anoymous man u are a fruit loop m8 i am a very netural person when it comes to religion but geez how can u possibly belive that they were possessed by the devil! r u mad from my knowledge wat they did was provoked by a build up of depression from bullying i think eric and dylan were victoms just as much as any1 else that died on april 20th but it was a very bad thing that they killed Innocent people and was certainly a very unfair act but they didn’t have much of a choice obviously they didn’t have a chance to get the real tormenters because the school was evacuated and most people were out of the school so they pretty much had no chance of getting the people they set out to kill and just decided to prove their point by killing any people that were there
RIP reb, vodka and the other 13 people that died on 20th of april 1999

October 15, 2006 @ 12:44 am | Comment

ok kanga… you say you take a neutral stand point of the situation well explain to me how dylan and eric are just as much victims as the ACTUAL victims… when in fact the victims, as proven later on in different trials had no relation to neither of the “murderers.” you say they were tormented by certain groups of people at the school and that excuses them or justifies them as being considered victims in the columbine massacre? thats the dumbest shit i have heard in a while… as a matter of fact it sounds like an excuse for what they have done. when in fact, if you take a closer look at this website:http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/daily/june99/columbine12.htm, you will see eric and harris werent paticularily picked on specifically, and it seemed like they just idolized the power the “jocks” had in controlling the school. they werent mad at injustices otherwise they wouldnt have excuted their plan or made nazi facism such a big part of their beliefs. oh and another thing… im not saying dylan and eric were possessed by the devil nor am i saying any possesion occured…im saying that what they did was the work of the devil. not all forms of the devil is through possesion…obviously someone needs to read the book of revelations!! once your educated in the subject of the columbine massacre then come talk to me. k. at the end of your comment you concluded with a “RIP reb, vodka and the other 13 people that died on 20th of april 1999 ” well do you think you could rest in peace if all you did one day was show up to school and maybe, have forgotten to tell your family you love them for the last time. could you rest in peace?????????????????????????

October 16, 2006 @ 3:52 am | Comment

thanks for this interesting post!

i think it’s sad that the parents of victims can’t see that the harris and klebold families lost a child that day, too – on top of being blamed. its hard enough for them, i bet. also, i think those “my child is a martyr” books are in really poor taste (um, way to profit off your kids death?) and the parents who defaced eric and dylans memorial? yeah its understandable to be mad. but your kids were victims of hate, and here you are perpetuating it?? shouldn’t you be setting a better example? those parents should stop pointing fingers and instead look at themselves, and realize, it’s because of the same hate they’re showing that society is fucked up. really, they should be blaming themselves. I don’t see the harris and klebold families perpetuating this hate – they’re trying to apologize and mourn and accomodate everyone.

you tell me which familes here are fucked up!!!

October 19, 2006 @ 3:03 am | Comment

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