Editors/News directors: NOTE changes to Tuesday and Wednesday lineups; minor edits.
This month marks 20 years since two teenage gunmen attacked Columbine High School in the Denver suburb of Littleton, killing 12 classmates and a teacher before taking their own lives. Our all-format coverage plans leading up to the April 20 anniversary (all times EDT):
MOVING TUESDAY, April 16
COLUMBINE-20 YEARS LATER
DENVER _ Driving her four kids to school on a recent morning, Kacey Ruegsegger Johnson completed the routine: praying aloud over her children, asking God to keep them safe. Twenty years after the 1999 shooting at Columbine High School, the emotional toll for those who survived has been joined by fears about their own kids’ safety, spiking each time another shooter enters another school. “I’m grateful I have the chance to be a mom,” Ruegsegger Johnson said, tears welling in her eyes. “I know some of my classmates weren’t given that opportunity.” By Katie Foody, Peter Banda and Allen Breed. UPCOMING: 1,600 words, photos, video by 1 a.m. Photos NCAB201-209.
With: COLUMBINE-20 YEARS LATER-ABRIDGED
With: COLUMBINE-20 YEARS LATER-PHOTO GALLERY, a collection of Columbine archive photos. Photos FX801-816.
COLUMBINE-20 YEARS LATER-SCHOOL SAFETY POLL
WASHINGTON _ Twenty years after Columbine, results of a new poll conducted by The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research reveal Americans’ views on school safety. By Carolyn Thompson. UPCOMING: 700 words, AP graphic by 2 a.m. Photos PAWIC701, FX702 and COCOL703-704.
MOVING WEDNESDAY, April 17
COLUMBINE-20 YEARS LATER-SWAT
DENVER _ Grant Whitus’ marriage fell apart a year after he led his SWAT team into Columbine High School’s library, where he was the first to find the dead children’s bodies. He could tell things were bad for his team, too. More than two-thirds of its members either quit or were reassigned within three years. Two decades later, attitudes about mental health care for the law enforcement officers who are first to arrive at such tragedies are just beginning to change. By P. Solomon Banda. UPCOMING: 1,500 words, photos, video by 1 a.m. NVJL201-204 and MERB201-203.
With: COLUMBINE-20 YEARS LATER-SWAT-ABRIDGED
COLUMBINE-20 YEARS LATER-SCHOOL SHOOTINGS _ Columbine seemed to be the moment that ushered in an era of mass shootings at American schools. But data compiled in the decade before that shooting and in the years since shows school shootings were more frequent in the 1990s. Yet school shootings today appear to have higher casualties. By Lisa Marie Pane. UPCOMING: 600 words, photos by 2 a.m. Photos NYAG801-803.
MOVING THURSDAY, April 18
COLUMBINE-SCHOOL SHOOTINGS-MENTAL HEALTH
FORT LAUDERDALE _ In the days, weeks, month and year since the school shootings at Florida’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High and Santa Fe High in Texas, mental health clinics have opened for survivors and families who lost loved ones. School counselors and teachers have been trained to deal with trauma victims and students at risk of suicide. The loose network of school shooting communities starting with Columbine High reached out to offer help. But is that enough? Some say no, that until two recent suicides by Stoneman Douglas students, officials had been slow to fully react. In any case, it’s difficult to get survivors to make use of help that’s available. And the psychological wounds are so deep, the people affected so many and their life trajectories after the attacks so varied that, realistically, there may never be a mental health program sophisticated enough to help everyone. By Terry Spencer, Kelli Kennedy, Colleen Slevin. UPCOMING: 900 words, photos by 1 a.m.
MOVING FRIDAY, April 19
COLUMBINE-20 YEARS LATER-LOOKING BACK
NEW YORK _ Would one of them have discovered a cure for cancer? Become an NBA star? Traveled the world and learned from its people? Raised a family, been part of a community, paid a mortgage, shopped for groceries on the weekend, coached a youth sports team? So often now, Americans find themselves confronting days in which shots are fired, parents’ children fall and futures are stolen. Covering the shootings at Columbine High School 20 years ago, I witnessed that feeling up close for the first time. Looking back, I realize now: It was, really, a preview for an entire era of tears yet to be shed. By National Writer Ted Anthony. UPCOMING: 1,000 words, photos by 1 a.m.
COLUMBINE-20 YEARS LATER-AP WAS THERE
LITTLETON, Colo. _ Her favorite lunchtime meal was ready _ “my only meal,” jokes Sarah DeBoer. So, nachos in hand, she headed toward the commons area of the Columbine High School cafeteria. It was a sunny Tuesday morning, maybe 60 degrees, only 17 school days before graduation, and a spring mentality was afoot _ the kind that says summer is on the horizon. Outside, two disaffected young men knew something their classmates didn’t. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris had endgame in mind. By National Writer Ted Anthony. UPCOMING: 1,700-word archive story, photos.
MOVING SATURDAY, April 20
COLUMBINE-20 YEARS LATER-REMEMBERING THE VICTIMS
LITTLETON, Colo. _ A community remembrance ceremony presented by Columbine families and current and former students and staff will take place at a Littleton park. By Katie Foody. Developing from 5 p.m. EDT event. With AP Photos.
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