The Riggs Report: Search for answers in Las Vegas massacre
October 13, 2017
What happens to those family members left behind in the tragedy?
The devastating wildfires this week in California have pushed, for now, the aftermath of the horrendous violence in Las Vegas out of the headlines in Northern California. But the search by investigators for a motive, for any explanation for the largest mass shooting in modern U.S. history, continues.
For family members of the 58 slain victims who were shot as they attended a country music festival outside the Mandalay Bay Hotel, the horror goes on.
And for the family of the shooter, Stephen Paddock, there is a special kind of guilt, along with shock and stigma.
No one has offered an explanation. But shouldn’t someone close to Paddock have seen something or noticed aberrant behavior that foreshadowed a crime like this?
That’s a question that has haunted Sue Klebold for years.
Klebold is the mother of Dylan Klebold, the 17-year-old student who, along with 18-year-old Eric Harris, staged the murders of 13 people and injured 24 others during the 1999 shooting spree at Columbine High School in Colorado.
Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris bragged about the attack they were planning in a series of videos, then killed themselves after carrying out the massacre.
I encountered Sue Klebold late last year at a conference in Southern California and asked her about her son’s murderous plot.
It wasn’t just idle curiosity. I had firsthand experience with the tragedy, having been dispatched to Columbine by KCRA, along with photographer Mike Williams, to cover the killings that took place that spring day more than 18 years ago.
I had the difficult duty of witnessing directly the anguish and the suffering of the high school students and their families who had been through a dreadful ordeal.
“As a survivor of suicide loss as well as the murders, the terrible, terrible things my son did to other people, the one thing I regret is not listening differently—and not listening better, more effectively,” Klebold told me last year. “And I think we have to look, as a whole nation, at how to better communicate with our children. How to talk less and listen more.”
Klebold experienced the guilt and the shame that you would expect from knowing a loved one was involved in such a horrible crime. She was in shock from learning, after the fact, that her son had recorded a series of videos bragging about the upcoming plot to attack his school.
“I had no idea whatsoever of the suffering my son was experiencing,” Klebold said. “We didn’t learn until months after his death that he had written on a piece of paper that he was cutting himself, that he was in agony and wanted to die.”
Klebold has written a book, titled “A Mother’s Reckoning,” which she believes may help shed greater light on the need for more mental health services. Her share of the proceeds are earmarked for organizations that provide violence prevention.
While the circumstances are very different, the Columbine and Las Vegas killings are both examples of cold-blooded, calculated behavior. And both have left questions about why nobody close to the culprits noticed something was wrong until it was too late.