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Columbine High School Marks 20th Anniversary of Mass Shooting

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Will Beck, a survivor of the attack at Columbine high school, hugs Lee Andres (R) at the Columbine memorial a day before the school shooting's 20th anniversary, in Littleton, Colorado, April 19, 2019.

Columbine High School is holding a memorial Saturday at a nearby park to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the mass shooting at the school that left 13 people dead.

The school, which is outside Denver, Colorado, has also organized a day of community service projects for current students on Saturday, the culmination of three days of commemorative events to remember the tragedy, which at the time was the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history.

The memorials began on Thursday night with a religious service, followed by a community vigil on Friday.

Former Columbine Principal Frank DeAngelis told survivors and families of the victims gathered at Waterstone Community Church on Thursday, “The most lasting tribute we can make to the 13 we remember tonight is to make the world a better place than what it was when they departed.”

Columbine survivor Patrick Ireland said, “Our innocence was stolen. How can that ever be repaid?”

Twenty years ago, on April 20, 1999, two heavily-armed students at Columbine went on a shooting rampage, killing 12 classmates and a teacher, and wounding more than 20 others, before turning their guns on themselves.

The mass shooting has earned a dangerous mythology, evidenced this week by a manhunt for a teenage woman allegedly obsessed with the 1999 shooting. The teenager traveled from her home in Florida to Colorado and immediately bought the same kind of weapon used by one of the Columbine shooters, prompting dozens of area schools to close. Authorities found the woman’s body on Wednesday in the mountains outside Denver, after she took her own life.

Columbine was the first major school shooting in the United States and it shocked the nation.

Nearly a dozen mass shootings have taken place at schools or universities since Columbine, including one at Virginia Tech in 2007 that left 32 people dead, and another at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2012 that killed 26 people, most of them children.

Columbine remained the deadliest high school shooting in U.S. history until the attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018 that left 17 dead.

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