The mother of one of the Columbine shooters still has trouble calling her son a “killer,” nearly 17 years after the bloody high school massacre that left 13 people dead.
“There is never a day that goes by where I don’t think of the people that Dylan harmed,” Sue Klebold told ABC’s “20/20 Friday” in her first TV interview since her son’s gun rampage.
She then explained why she used the delicate term “harmed.”
“I think it’s easier for me to say ‘harmed’ than ‘killed,’ and it’s still hard for me after all this time,” Klebold said. “It is very hard to live with the fact that someone you loved and raised has brutally killed people in such a horrific way.”
Dylan Klebold and his friend Eric Harris opened fire on their classmates inside Colorado’s Columbine High School on April 20, 1999, before they shot and killed themselves. Their gun rampage killed 12 students and a teacher, while wounding another 24 people.
Klebold — whose memoir, “A Mother’s Reckoning: Living in the Aftermath of Tragedy,” will be released Monday — said she has long struggled to understand her son’s crimes.
“I had all those illusions that everything was OK because — and more than anything else — because my love for him was so strong,” she told Diane Sawyer, accruing to a clip from the interview released Friday.
The Colorado mom said she had no idea her son was capable of such violence.
“I felt that I was a good mom … that he would, he could talk to me about anything,” Klebold continued. “I think we like to believe that our love and our understanding is protective, and that ‘if anything were wrong with my kids, I would know,’ but I didn’t know.”
Klebold said she couldn’t stop thinking about her son’s victims in the wake of his slaughter — and she understands the anger and frustration their families felt.
“I keep thinking, constantly thought how I would feel if it were the other way around and one of their children had shot mine,” she said. “I would feel exactly the way they did. I know I would. I know I would.”
Ahead of the release of Klebold’s book, survivor Anne Marie Hochhalter penned a letter to the killer’s mother. Hochhalter, who was paralyzed in the attack, applauded Klebold’s decision to donate all profits to charities devoted to mental health.
“I have no ill-will towards you. Just as I wouldn’t want to be judged by the sins of my family members, I hold you in that same regard,” she wrote in a Facebook post. “It’s been a rough road for me, with many medical issues because of my spinal cord injury and intense nerve pain, but I choose not to be bitter towards you.