The shooting's aftermath was widely televised, and young people across America continued to be influenced by the symbology of the Columbine shooting and the two high school students who carried it out, according to law enforcement officials, researchers and educators.
In May 2018, a 17-year-old junior in Santa Fe shot his teachers and fellow students with a sawed-off shotgun while wearing a black trench coat and carrying Molotov cocktails, his arsenal and attire inspired by the Columbine gunmen. The 20-year-old attacker who killed 26 people at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut in 2012 had compiled a massive mass murder spreadsheet and materials on the Columbine attackers on his computer. And in his manifesto, the 23-year-old student who shot and killed 32 people at Virginia Tech in 2007 had called the Columbine gunmen their first names and described them as "we martyrs."
Jefferson County, home to Columbine High School, has spent the past 20 years grappling with that legacy.
Students, teachers, families and law enforcement officers have had to deal only with the emotional trauma of the shooting, but also with people who have become obsessed with it, as well as copycats who have carried out their own attacks.
In an interview last year, the head of safety for Jefferson County schools, John McDonald said he had often apprehended people who came from around the country to enter the school, a major safety group. These visits – and interest in the shooting – have only increased over time, he said: "I've been dealing with this for more than a decade and it's never been more than an issue than it is now, 20 years later." 19659007]