Monday, April 20, 2009

US marks 10 years since Columbine

Events are being held to mark 10 years since the massacre at Columbine High School, where two former pupils killed 12 students and a teacher.

A private service for victims' families was held in the town of Littleton, Colorado, and flags flew at half-mast across the state.

On Sunday, hundreds attended an open-air candle-lit vigil in a nearby park.

On 20 April 1999, teenagers Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold rampaged through the school before shooting themselves dead.

More than 20 other people were injured during the incident, the worst high school massacre in US history.

Columbine High School was closed on Monday, as it has been on every 20 April since the massacre out of respect for the victims.

Another vigil was scheduled for Monday night in Clement Park, next to the school.

Gun-law debate

On Monday a rally was held outside Colorado's state Capitol, including a wreath-laying ceremony to commemorate the dead.

The organiser of Sunday's memorial event, Kirsten Kreiling, president of the Columbine Memorial Foundation, said: "It is a time for the community to come back together again as they did following the shootings 10 years ago."

The daughter of the only teacher who died, Dave Sanders, said the anniversary marks the time to finally move on.

"We've spent 10 years, every year, remembering the day of his death. And I think from here on out we're really going to try to celebrate his life," said Connie Sanders.

The school's long-serving head teacher, Frank DeAngelis, who has vowed to remain in the job until every student who was in kindergarten on the day of the attack has graduated, was among those attending Monday's service.

The Columbine massacre reignited a debate about gun-ownership laws in the US that still continues.