Apr 192004
Authors: Adrienne Hoenig

Five years ago today casts a dark shadow for some CSU


On April 20, 1999, at Columbine High School in Littleton, Eric

Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 12 classmates and a teacher and

wounded 23 others before killing themselves.

All of the students present at the shooting have now graduated

and some have found their way to CSU.

Semih Altinay, a junior computer science student, was in the

cafeteria at Columbine when the shooting began. Altinay was an

18-year-old senior in high school and had trouble grasping the

event’s seriousness as it happened.

“It was kind of weird. We didn’t really realize exactly what was

going on,” Altinay said. “I wasn’t really sure if it was that bad.

It happened so fast.”

Altinay said he rarely thinks about the event now but has

learned some valuable lessons from the experience. He moved to the

United States from Turkey when he was 17 and said his experiences

there may have helped him to deal with this tragedy.

“You see this stuff on the TV and you never realize it’s going

to happen,” Altinay said. “People here don’t realize it, but they

actually take a lot for granted.”

Beth Ramirez is a senior natural resources, recreation and

tourism student at CSU. In 1999, she was a junior at Columbine High

School. Ramirez was in math class when the shootings began. She and

her classmates laughed them off initially, assuming they were a

prank. It was not until she was standing with her classmates in a

field across the street that she realized what was happening.

“All of the sudden we saw hundreds and hundreds of kids running

out of the cafeteria,” Ramirez said.

Many of the students were crying and yelling that their friends

had been shot.

“When you think about it, it’s like that was one of the scariest

moments in my life,” she said. “I think it changed everybody’s life

that went to Columbine.”

Ramirez said the events that day at Columbine seem much farther

in the past than they are.

“We had to grow up faster. We just got hit in the face with this

harsh reality,” she said. “It does seem like it was so long


For Diana Tully, a senior biology student, the memory is still

fresh in her mind.

“I still think about it, actually a lot still,” she said.

Tully was out to lunch when the shootings began. She had planned

to spend the lunch hour studying in the library, where a some of

the shootings took place. Instead, she said she “got lazy and

decided to go eat instead.” As she drove back to Columbine, she was

worried about being late for class because the intersection near

the school was blocked off.

“I was more angry at first when it happened. I didn’t even have

time to be sad,” Tully said. “Some of those people (who were

killed) were the greatest people I knew. I miss those people a


She said she was shocked by the violence her peers demonstrated

at Columbine.

“I didn’t think that people had the capability to do that,”

Tully said. “I guess I was really naive before it happened. I am

more skeptical of people now.”

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