US & Canada

Columbine shooting: District suggests tearing down school

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Media caption"How the Columbine school shooting changed my life"

Local authorities have proposed destroying Columbine High School in Colorado, the site of a deadly school shooting 20 years ago.

Two teenagers murdered 12 students and a teacher at Columbine in April 1999.

Now, Jefferson County School District has proposed tearing down and rebuilding the school to end the "morbid fascination" with the massacre.

Superintendent Jason Glass wrote to parents, saying people use Columbine as "a macabre source of inspiration".

Hundreds of people try to enter the school every year, Mr Glass wrote, and these numbers have grown to "record levels" in the past 11 months.

Mr Glass specifically mentions 18-year-old Sol Pais - who travelled to Colorado in April and made threats to local schools before taking her own life.

"In 1999, no guidance existed on what to do with a building such as Columbine High School," the letter reads.

"Today school safety experts recommend tearing down buildings where school shootings take place... we believe it is time for our community to consider this option for the existing Columbine building."

Some of Columbine High School was partially rebuilt in the wake of the killings.

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Image caption Commemorations have taken place this year to mark the 20th anniversary of the killings

The new district proposals include demolishing the current site and rebuilding a school just to the west, keeping Columbine's name, colours and mascot.

Fields would be grown on top of the old building, with "controlled entry points".

The Hope Memorial library, built after the massacre, could be preserved and serve as the "cornerstone" of the new building.

What happened at Columbine?

On 20 April 1999, two students - Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold - killed 12 students and one teacher before taking their own lives.

At the time, it was the deadliest school shooting in US history. The death toll was not surpassed until the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012.

Image copyright MARK LEFFINGWELL/AFP/Getty Images
Image caption Until 2012, the Columbine shooting was the deadliest school shooting in US history

The Columbine massacre has since influenced numerous other school shootings, with attackers making specific reference to the killings.

A memorial for those killed opened in 2007. Events took place this year to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the shooting.

Is tearing down schools a new idea?

No. Sandy Hook Elementary School, where a gunman murdered 26 people - the majority under seven years old - was demolished and rebuilt after the massacre, with bulked up security measures.

Sutherland Springs' First Baptist Church in Texas was similarly replaced after 26 people were shot dead inside in November 2017.

And the West Nickel Mines School in Pennsylvania was demolished after five Amish schoolgirls were murdered there. The New Hope School was built nearby to replace it.

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