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Columbine Leader Won’t Stop Offering Insights on Mass Shootings

The former principal at Columbine high told a group in Illinois today that he does not think teachers should carry guns.

Emphasizing how much is now different, Frank DeAngelis spoke at an Illinois Central College.
event in East Peoria on Tuesday.

“And we continue to hear about these school shootings. But I also stress that how many have been stopped because of things we have in place today that we didn’t in place in 1999,” DeAngelis said. “For example, the only drills we did were fire drills. The police protocol at the time was to secure the perimeter. The police were actually outside waiting for the SWAT team to arrive.”

The shooting at Columbine High was April 20, 1999.

Armed officers would not enter the school for more than 45 minutes.

12 students and a teacher were killed, along with the two gunmen, who were also students at the school.

Since then, many police agencies across the country have been taught to enter the building and neutralize the threat as soon as possible, rather than form a perimeter on the outside.

AAIM Employer’s Association hosted Tuesday’s event: Leadership Lessons Learned.

He retired as principal in 2014.

Despite the emotions, he stayed at Columbine in Jefferson County, CO until all the grade school students who were there in 1999 finished their high school careers.

He is often called on as a resource when another mass shooting takes place, such as Aurora, Illinois on February 15.

He told the crowd Tuesday he does not believe teachers should be armed, but rather advocates for armed school resource officers

And, public speaking engagements are something he won’t quit on.

“You know, each morning when I wake up I recite the names of the names of the 13 (killed). And that’s the reason for me to go out and do what I continue to do. And I always said there’s nothing I can do to bring them back, but I’m going to do everything in my power (to ensure) that they did not die in vain. And as long as I can walk and talk I”m going to continue to do what I’m doing,” DeAngelis said.

He also emphasized how helpful Colorado’s statewide, anonymous tip line, Safe2Tell, has been over the past two decades.

Editor’s Note: I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. DeAngelis many times over the years, often in his office at Columbine high. I’ve always been impressed with his patience and willingness to answer questions from reporters and educators from around the country, often after another mass shooting.


Tyler Lopez

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