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School Killers' Parents Not Yet Questioned

Massacre: Nine days after Littleton assault, officials say they still haven't interviewed the two families at length. Meeting is planned.

April 30, 1999|ERIC SLATER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LITTLETON, Colo. — Authorities on Thursday acknowledged that--nine days after two teenage assailants burst into Columbine High, lobbing homemade bombs and giggling as they executed classmates--investigators still had not interviewed the youths' parents at length.

In explaining why the parents had not been formally interviewed, authorities said only that both families were now cooperating through their attorneys and that they were trying to schedule a meeting as soon as possible. Police had had brief conversations with the parents the day of the shooting.

And as the last of the 13 murder victims was laid to rest Thursday, authorities sought to trace the last of four firearms used in the massacre, focusing on a man the killers worked with at a pizza place as the possible link to the TEC-DC9 assault pistol.

Backtracking for the second time in as many days about further charges in the case, authorities said that an arrest in connection with the pistol was not imminent but that they had been in touch with a man who may have information about how Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, acquired the high-capacity pistol.

Denver lawyer Robert Ransome confirmed late Thursday that he is representing a man in regard to the Columbine investigation but declined to elaborate.

Jefferson County Dist. Atty. Dave Thomas said on NBC-TV's "Today" show Thursday morning that there would be an arrest in connection with the assault pistol within 48 hours. Later, Assistant Dist. Atty. Mark Pautler said that Thomas had not been given an update before he made that statement.

"Things can change, and that's exactly what happened," Pautler said.

The person who provided the gun could be charged with murder if authorities can prove the seller knew about the teenagers' plan to storm the high school.

The three other guns used in the April 20 shooting, a 9-millimeter carbine and two sawed-off shotguns, were purchased by Klebold's prom date, 18-year-old Robyn Anderson, authorities said, adding that it was still unclear whether she knew of the pair's plans.

On Thursday, hundreds of people continued to trek to the makeshift shrines at nearby Clement Park, laying fresh flowers on top of the dying ones, trying to keep candles lit in the slight drizzle.

Nearly 5,000 mourners, meanwhile, attended services for 18-year-old Isaiah Shoels, who may have been slain because he was an athlete and was black.

"This is the last piece," the Rev. Larry Russell told the exhausted mourners, many of whom have attended funeral after funeral for nearly a week. "Now the healing begins. I don't think the healing could begin until today."

With the number of leads climbing to 1,100 by Thursday, the 75 investigators working full time on the case are likely to have little time for reflection in coming weeks. Just 10% of the leads have been checked so far, Jefferson County sheriff's spokesman Steve Davis said, and tips continue to pour in.

Ballistics and bomb experts continued to comb through the school Thursday, where they have collected between 8,000 and 10,000 pieces of evidence and are expected to be there for at least several more days. Other investigators were going over attendance records in an effort to determine if anyone was tipped off about the impending doom and stayed away from the school.

Investigators are also reviewing Sheriff's Department records for reports of explosions over the last two years in an attempt to determine when Klebold and Harris may have tested prototype bombs.

Authorities said they also may subpoena medical records of the two assailants. Just days before the shooting, Harris was turned down in his attempt to join the Marine Corps. He had previously told Marine recruiters that he was not taking any prescription medication, but his parents told a recruiter that he was being treated with the psychotropic drug Luvox, according to several sources, which is used to treat both obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression.

The Jefferson County coroner's office said no drugs, either legal or illegal, or alcohol were found in the bodies of the killers or any of their victims. But with information that Harris may have taken Luvox, more specific tests may be conducted.

"I would expect that from the coroner's office," Davis said.

Luvox is a selective serotonin-reuptake inhibitor, or SSRI, similar to Prozac. The drug typically takes about two weeks to begin fully working and about the same period of time to completely leave the body once the patient stops taking it.

It was not clear if Harris was being treated for depression or obsessive-compulsive disorder, which is marked by such traits as repetitive hand-washing.

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