Peter Boyles Show, George Brauchler, February 3, 2015

Station:   KNUS, 710 AM

Show:      Peter Boyles Show

Guests:    Brauchler


Date:       February 3, 2015

Topics:    Columbine, Basement Tapes, Mark Maness, Phil Duran, Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold, Steve Jensen, Prosecution, Jefferson County, Frank DeAngeles,

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HOST PETER BOYLES:  Let me do this, real quick.  Please say good morning and welcome to 710KNUS with Alan and myself — I’m also a huge fan.  Ladies and gentlemen, the DA, George Brauchler.  Uh, DA, thanks for doing this.  Alan ’s on the other line, and good morning!

ARAPAHOE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY, GEORGE BRAUCHLER:  Hey!  Good morning to you, and to Alan. How are you guys doing?

BOYLES:  Well, fine.  What would you like to — I know you were one of the — you were involved in this and I’m trying to remember how.

BRAUCHLER:  Yeah, so, Steve Jensen and I were the prosecutors assigned to prosecute Mark Maness and Phil Duran, who sold the Tech DC9 handgun to Klebold and Harris.  And those ultimately ended up becoming the only prosecutions to grow out of Columbine. And so as a result of that, we pored through the evidence in the case.  In part, we were looking to see, is there anyone else that had any criminal liability, here?  And in that process we reviewed the video tapes that you were talking about with Alan.  And you had each said, “Hey, I haven’t had the chance to see these things.”  And I did, and it is one of the most vivid recollections I have about that particular case.

BOYLES:  What would you like to tell the audience, or tell Alan and myself?

BRAUCHLER:  So, your description is pretty good, in terms of  — you know, one of the things that struck me at the time, I was recently married, I had no kids. But as I’m watching this, Dylan Klebold takes the camera and he sort of takes on the voice of Eric’s mom — a sarcastic voice.  And he sort of says [affecting high, feminine voice], “Oh, Eric, show me around your room.”  And Eric sort of shows around the room, and it looks like the regular boy’s room.  And then they try to show in the video how they have hidden the various implements of death there that they’re going to employ at the school. So, for instance, they open up a drawer to a desk that’s right inside the front of the room, and there’s all these disassembled clock parts.  And you may recall that their goal was to try to develop a timing mechanism to explode that propane tank with the kerosene and the gasoline taped around it, in the cafeteria.

BOYLES:  That was the trigger.

BRAUCHLER:  And they were never —.

BOYLES:  That was going to trigger everything, right?

BRAUCHLER: That’s right.  Well, their goal was — if you recall, their goal was for that explosion —and I think ATF estimated it would have engulfed both the cafeteria and the library in flames.  They were going to sit in the parking lot and pick people off as they ran out of this burning building. And that did not work. So they went to Plan B, which was to then go inside and just start shooting people.

BOYLES:  Did they —?   Did they—?

BRAUCHLER:  Now, the other thing is—.

BOYLES:  But I have to interrupt again.  Did they bring that big propane tank in on the prom night?  Did they bring it in — when did they bring it in, you guys?

WESTWORD REPORTER, ALAN PENDERGAST:  I think it was earlier that day.

BRAUCHLER:  Yes, that’s when they—.  And Alan may have better information, but it was definitely well in advance of the 20th [of April].

PENDERGAST:  Yeah, I think it was, —.

BRAUCHLER:  So, they —.

PENDERGAST:  Yeah, go ahead.

BRAUCHLER:  No, I’m sorry, sir.

PENDERGAST:  No, it’s all right.

BRAUCHLER:  No!  I’m sorry! Sorry!

PENDERGAST:  Well, I think it was earlier that day, but I’m not sure they ever got video of when that showed up there.  So, I’m not sure it’s clear.

BRAUCHLER:  I think that the video I recall seeing was of them that day.  And they did not bring it in that day, for sure.  It was earlier, and I think it was at an earlier school event.  Whether or not it was prom, I can’t say.  And you can see them on the stairs and in the cafeteria taking shots at this.  These fools thought, “Well, the timing mechanism didn’t go off.  We’ll try and trigger it by shooting it.”   And that was unsuccessful as well.

BOYLES:  And they would have gone up with it, right?

BRAUCHLER:  Oh, absolutely they would have.  That’s what the ATF said.

BOYLES:  Yeah, that’s what I’ve always been told.

BRAUCHLER:  So you go through their room, and they pull open the closet and they have a box in there — Eric does. And it says [it is] a BB rifle.  But if you open the box, there’s — I think it’s a sawed-off carbine, that’s in there.  They have a bookshelf with a bunch of CDs behind it.  And if you reach in and pull this CD—the CDs out, you find all of their little pipe bombs that they made.  And they’ve given them various ridiculous names, like Alpha, and Bravo, and all this other stuff.  And they go through the room and find a box — a plastic box, next to Eric’s bed.   And you open it up, and it has some —well, it holds magazines, or something.  There’s plastic on it.  You pull up the plastic and there is all these LBE —load bearing equipment harnesses with different magazine pouches and stuff in there.  And the reason it stuck out in my mind was, one, how cavalier they were about documenting how they were able to fool parents, who seemed like had become disinterested in them, or at least parenting them from the basement.  And the other thing that struck me was, I could never have pulled this off because my mom was nosy.  And she — my guess is your parents were the same way.

BOYLES:  Oh-hoh!

BRAUCHLER:  My mom would have found the can of chew.


BRAUCHLER:  She found the Playboy magazine, You know, there were no secrets in my room.  You know?

BOYLES:  Yep.  Yep.  My — I always say, my—.

PENDERGAST:  That’s a great point,, George. I mean, just think of the degree of preparation to do all that stuff and have this stuff so elaborately disguised, and how much time and opportunity there had to be to — in advance, to do all of this.

BOYLES:  You guys, I mean— this is Peter.  First, I’m going to ask everybody to stay.  DA, can you stay through a break?

BRAUCHLER:  I’ll do it!  Yeah!

BOYLES:  All right. And boss, can you stay through a break?  Alan, can you stay through a break?


BOYLES:  Yeah.  Let me ask about this question: did they plan this for at least over a year?


BOYLES:  Alan? Yes?

PENDERGAST:  Oh, no question. […] From the writings of Harris, we know that.

BOYLES:  I mean, it’s amazing. […]  A question, George:  [to] the best of your knowledge, was he able to lock his own door and nobody could come in the room unless he had opened it?

BRAUCHLER:  You know, that is my recollection about the lock.

BOYLES:  That’s what I thought.

BRAUCHLER:  But even if there wasn’t a lock, they sure acted like there was one, in that, you know, a lot of this video takes place sequentially as they go through this planning. They even videotape themselves driving, I think, to one of the Army & Navy Surplus stores where they buy some of this stuff.


BRAUCHLER:  And that’s many, many months before.  And then they also videotaped themselves sitting around this half-finished basement doing ridiculous things like dressing up in this military style garb, and marching around, holding the weapons.  They videotaped themselves running through a list of every racial epithet you can think of, reading it into the camera. They are passing a little note pad back and forth.

BOYLES:  Geez!  What are they— Where do they get that?  I mean, where does that come from?

BRAUCHLER:  I don’t know.  I mean, I would say that having watched a lot of video of these guys, my sense was there was a complete misapprehension of, you know, who Klebold was, and who Harris was.  So, everyone thought Harris was the driver, Harris was the bad guy. I’ve got to tell you, having watched the Klebold stuff, that guy was as amoral a person as I have ever seen.

BOYLES:  Yeah.  Remember, Alan, when this —early on, when Alan—when they would say, you know, “Good Dylan, and bad Eric.” You know, and—. Hang on, you guys.  This is really a gift.  I didn’t realize we were going to get this.  […]

[commercial break]

BOYLES:  […] That was in 1999, is when it happened.  And now, the tapes, we believe — the videos that Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold made in the basement of Dylan—or, excuse me — of Eric Harris’s home.  And George was talking about what he saw on the tapes.  I’ve not seen them. I’ve seen, like, people’s transcripts, if you would.  And, in fairness, Alan, you have not seen the tapes as well, right?

PENDERGAST:  I have not.  No.

BOYLES:  But George, you have.

BRAUCHLER:  I have.  Yeah.

BOYLES:  And again, — yeah— these questions—. I mean, I was always told, they had said some unbelievably racist, bigoted, out-of-nowhere—. And then you see these two kids and you think, I mean, they’re both — Dylan is at least upper middle class and Eric Harris, didn’t he drive his own BMW?

PENDERGAST:  Klebold had the BMW.

BOYLES:  Okay, all right, I take it — the other way around.

PENDERGAST:  But one of the things they— I know I’m interrupting here — one of the things they did on that tape, and there is a lot of personal references to a lot of other folks.  And I think— George, wasn’t that part of why that was part of the Jeffco case, was they do mention Maness and Duran — the people they got the guns from — on those tapes?

BRAUCHLER:  I can’t remember where we got the names from, because initially, I think this all begins with them backtracking to Blackjack Pizza where they had been working.  And that was the tie in to Phil Duran.  And then the other part was, remember, they hosted some stuff on the Columbine inter-school computer system.  And it was videos of them with Phil and Mark out at Rampart Range, shooting at trees, shooting at, like, I think bowling pins, and making some, what would later be, you know, blood-chilling statements.  But at the time, you know, you think it’s just stupid kids shooting off guns that they shouldn’t have access to.  And I can’t remember if that tied in to something they had said on their own basement tapes, or if that was a separate way we got to Phil and Mark

PENDERGAST:  I thought there was something on there that was essentially saying, “Don’t blame these guys.  They were dupes,” or something like that.  I mean, they said a lot of self-serving stuff on those tapes, but that was —there was some reference to them there.

BRAUCHLER:  There are other things —.

PENDERGAST:  [inaudible] things we learned about the basement tapes, was that prosecution revealed that they had, you know, talked a bit about acquiring the guns and boasted about how well they could fool everybody.  I mean, there is something in there about Harris saying he could make people think he had climbed Mount Everest, or had a twin brother on his back, or something.  He could make people believe anything.

BOYLES:  When—.

BRAUCHLER:  They did spend a lot of time bragging about how smart they were and how foolish other’s were.  Yeah.

BOYLES:  Who — you know, If I could — to the DA — George, who were they?  All said and done, who were they?

BRAUCHLER:  Boy, I don’t know that anybody — even their own folks —know.  I mean, which is weird to say.  You think your folks, at that age, might know you as well as anyone.  But, you know, here’s a guy— Klebold— that’s got a date to the prom, he’s got the tux hanging on his closet door. I mean, he’s doing everything he can to make the rest of the world think he’s just a normal kid, going through normal things.  And all along, I’ve got to tell you, he had as black a heart as I’ve ever heard someone display on video or audio.  And then you have Eric Harris who was portrayed as this loner, or this brooder.  But I saw more emotion out of him on the video than anyone else.  There’s a moment, when he’s in his room — he clearly owns the video camera.  He’s in his room, it’s nighttime.  And all of a sudden, it just comes on — he turns it on.  And he sits there and he starts going through the names of the different girls — my guess is — that he’d either had affection for or asked out and [had] been rejected by, or something.  And he just starts reading these names off, kind of by memory.  And he starts tearing up, and crying, on this video.  And I never saw anything that.  I mean, the most memorable moment of this tape is the last one.  They’ve got their bags packed, full of their death, and they’re ready to head out the door.  And Eric looks into the camera and says, “Mom, this isn’t your fault.  This wasn’t about you.  You didn’t do anything wrong.  You were a great mom.”  And Klebold basically says, you know, “F— my parents!” or “F— Mom!”  Something along those lines.   And then it fades to black, and Eric says, “No, no, no!  Turn it back on!  Turn it back on!”  And they turn it back on,— I think it’s Klebold filming it — and he looks in the camera and says, I think to his brother or a friend, he says, “Hey, you can have my CD collection, and you can have this, that, and the other” and then it fades to black.  And they’re gone.  And it’s just — i mean, it just sticks out in my mind.  It’s crazy!  Crazy!

BOYLES:  And they know they’re going to go die. And they’re kids.

BRAUCHLER:  I think they think there is a slim chance that they could pull off something— you know, they talked in their little books and rantings about possibly fleeing to another country, but I think when things don’t happen they way they’d expected with the bomb in the cafeteria, and they booby trapped their cars, they head in, I think they know they’re not coming out.  I think they know.

BOYLES:  I asked Alan this, and there was speculation.  In the end, when they go back,— and this is one of the weird moments. They still have ammunition. They go back to the library, and their alleged enemies are the jocks yet they never go to the gym.  They go back to the library.  The cops aren’t in the building yet. They still have ammunition. And there has been speculation that Dylan, I think, shot Eric, or Eric shot Dylan and then shot himself.  How do you think — and why does it come to an end like that?  I mean, not that it’s — but they — there’s still kids hiding in the school. Why does the end come like that?

BRAUCHLER:  I don’t know.  I think they had made a pact.  This is one of the weirdest relationships you could find, at this age. You had talked about it before, Pete, that these guys had planned this for a year.  You and I know at 17-, 18-year old boys and girls, they can’t plan next weekend.  You know what I mean?  And these guys clung to a plan and developed it and followed through with it for at least a year.  And they had such a bond, that I think they had committed to each other their mutual deaths when this thing was over.  And they stuck to it.  And that’s remarkable, for one person to do it, let alone for two people to do it.  That’s my recollection.

PENDERGAST:  I would second that.  But also, you know, a lot of the people they initially were mad at, I mean, when they started this plan had already graduated.  I mean, in many ways their lives had improved from when they were juniors. And they were seniors and more popular.  I mean, the idea that they were sort of bullied outcasts, or something, is wrong.  But, you know, they stuck to what they had started, you know, inexplicably, in the face of all of that.  And, what happened in the library, I mean, I really think that they thought they really had, you know, I mean, it was either suicide or the cops would get them.  I really think they thought the cops were about to come in any minute. They didn’t realize the police wouldn’t reach the library for another three or four hours, when they killed themselves.

BOYLES:  But again— I mean, I keep coming back to this.  If their enemies were the — everybody made a big deal out of this — their enemies were the jocks who picked on them.  George and Alan, [to] the best of my knowledge, they never went into the gym to look for people to kill.

PENDERGAST:  I don’t think that’s — I don’t think that’s actually what Columbine was about.

BOYLES:  I don’t either. But that was what — remember?  That was what all the so-called progressives were saying, “The bullies, the jocks,” and all of this kind of stuff. And that’s really how I met Frank DeAngeles, that Frank said, “No!” And I agree with you.  Ultimately, and I’m certainly not an expert. I just know a lot of people. And I turn to the two of you.  What was Columbine all about.  Alan, first?

PENDERGAST:  Well, it’s about — I mean, I think these kids were, you know, alienated in certain ways.  But I don’t think you blame Columbine for what was going on in their heads. You know, it’s about two kids who were — who found each other, and had a certain chemistry and a certain hatred.  And I don’t know if either one of them could have pulled it off alone.  It’s a dynamic between these two, and it’s about two kids who are bent on a kind of suicide that involves taking as many people as they can with them, and trying to make an impact on the world with how they go out.  I mean, it’s about adolescent doom.

BOYLES:  Yeah.  DA, your thoughts?

BRAUCHLER:  Yeah, I think that’s probably as good as anything, Pete.  I think that people want to look at this situation and diagnose it away.  And that’s just what we do, anymore, with a situation like this.  Because how could two kids from middle class [or] upper middle class America plot the death of a school full of people? And I still leave open in my mind, Pete, that there is still evil out there.  We can want to call it a million different things.  But I think that these two — as Alan, I think, rightly pointed out — it was just luck, in some ways, that they found each other and they were —they had the same kind of chemistry and commitment to this.  I mean, you would expect  one to bail out at some point, and go, “Okay! The tough talk is over! There is no way I’m going through with this!” or a parent to figure this out.  The stars had to align is such an awful way for this to have been pulled off the way it was.  The only thing I can point to is say, it was planned to be far worse than it was.  And so, even though it was this dreadful, horrible, historic act, it was mitigated in comparison to what these guys had beating in their chests when they got up that morning.

BOYLES: I think it became a Rorschach test that the anti-Second Amendment people saw it, and the people who were against— they said [the] kids were medicated, the people who said it was video games, the people said it was, you know, it was this, it was that.  And it becomes a Rorschach test, that everybody can see in it what they want to find in it.   And I think, [all] said and done, you guys just said it best.  I know Frank DeAngeles, who has become one of my dearest friends, we have talked about this for hours.  He shrugs. There’s — you know.  And I think, DA, your answer and Alan’s answer, are as close as we’re going to get — that that’s what it was. But, I tell you what. Hey, DA, thanks!  And you know, as we come closer  — i don’t know if the anniversary is the right date, but I’d love to get everybody in the studio some morning and sit down and talk, and — I don’t know. George, you’re the man!  And Alan, I don’t know what I’d do without you over the years.

BRAUCHLER:  Thank you!  Thanks, Alan.

BOYLES:  Thanks, you guys!  God bless you both!  Thanks, guys!