Colorado school officials consider razing site of Columbine massacre

FILE PHOTO: Students arrive for class at Columbine High School before participating in a National School Walkout to honor the 17 students and staff members killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in Littleton, Colorado, U.S., March 14, 2018. REUTERS/Rick Wilking/File Photo

By Keith Coffman

DENVER (Reuters) – Public education officials in Colorado are considering a plan to tear down and rebuild Columbine High School, saying the site remains a “source of inspiration” for potential gun violence 20 years after a mass shooting there left 15 people dead.

The idea was floated on Thursday in an open letter from the superintendent of Jefferson County public schools, Jason Glass, to Columbine staff, students, parents and members of the surrounding Denver suburb of Littleton, Colorado.

The proposal calls for placing a bond measure seeking $60 million to $70 million on a future ballot to pay for demolition of the existing school and construction of a new school to replace it just west of the current site.

Under the superintendent’s plan, the new campus would still be called Columbine High School, “honoring the pride and spirit the community has with the name,” and its school mascot and colors would remain unchanged.

The county Board of Education and administration are “in the very preliminary and exploratory stages” of discussing such a plan, and are seeking public feedback on the proposal, Glass said.

He cited numerous instances in which actual or would-be perpetrators of violence expressed a fascination with Columbine, including an 18-year-old Florida woman who shot herself to death in April after she sparked an extensive manhunt by traveling to Colorado days before the 20th anniversary of the 1999 massacre.


In 2010, 29-year-old twin sisters from Australia, obsessed with the shooting, traveled to Colorado and shot themselves at a local gun range in a suicide pact. One of the women survived, and police found among their belongings a photocopy of a news magazine cover depicting the Columbine killers and their victims.

The Columbine site, Glass said, “continues to serve as a source of inspiration for potential school shooters, and its lasting impact only seems to be growing.”

Fifteen people were killed in the Columbine rampage, which at the time ranked as the deadliest school shooting in U.S. history. Two high school seniors shot and killed 12 classmates and a teacher before taking their own lives in the bloodshed on April 20, 1999.

The now-retired principal of Columbine during the massacre, Frank DeAngelis, 64, said Glass had sought his opinion before going public with the demolition idea, and he thought it was a “good plan.”

“Twenty years ago, we never imagined that there would be people so infatuated with this tragedy years later,” DeAngelis said. “Maybe moving the physical plant would alleviate some of the issues.”

Aside from numerous threats and the hoaxes the school has received over the years, curiosity seekers would take pictures of their children in front of the school with the Columbine sign in the background.

“It became a tourist attraction,” he said.

(Reporting by Keith Coffman; writing by Steve Gorman; Editing by Bill Tarrant and Lisa Shumaker)

Greece to tear down illegal buildings after killer blaze

FILE PHOTO: A local walks on a burnt slope following a wildfire at the village of Mati, near Athens, Greece, July 24, 2018. REUTERS/Alkis Konstantinidis/File Photo

By Michele Kambas and Lefteris Papadimas

ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece will demolish thousands of illegal buildings in response to the death of dozens of people who were unable to escape a maze of poorly planned streets in the country’s worst wildfire disaster.

Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, whose government has been accused of a slow response, said Greece must no longer allow illegal construction that has been common for decades in a country dogged by bureaucracy and corruption.

The demolition of 3,200 buildings will start immediately in the Attica region, which includes the capital Athens, he said.

“The chaos of unruly construction, which threatens human lives, can no longer be tolerated,” Tsipras said in a speech in the town of Lavrio, down the coast from Mati where at least 91 people died in the blaze on July 23.

Unlicensed constructions are a common feature of the Greek landscape where they even have a name: “afthereta”, or “arbitrary” buildings.

Built with apparent impunity, many are rubber stamped later under general amnesties, announced by successive governments in what critics say is a crude but effective way to wield power and gain votes.

Authorities say there were dozens of such buildings in Mati, where people were trapped, with routes to the coast walled off — illegal under Greek law.

Tsipras said anyone in the process of building unlicensed constructions would be compelled to demolish them.

The disaster has had political repercussions. The head of the civil protection department resigned on Monday, a day after the government replaced the chiefs of the police and the fire brigade.

The civil protection minister resigned on Friday after saying he believed there had been few flaws with the way emergency services tackled the blaze, fueled by winds blowing at 120 km (70 miles) an hour.

Tsipras’s administration has rejected opposition claims that authorities were napping on the job, saying unlicensed building had thrived under previous governments.

“I would have expected at least the tiniest bit of self-criticism from those who, along with their families, ran the country for more than four decades – not two, three or five years,” said Tsipras, a leftist politician elected in 2015.

Kyriakos Mitsotakis, head of the main opposition New Democracy Party, is son of Constantine Mitsotakis, a former prime minister. Fofi Gennimata, head of the small Socialist party which was also dominant for years, is the daughter of a key figure in that party.

(Reporting by Michele Kambas; Editing by Robin Pomeroy)

Israeli Authorities To Destroy Terrorist’s Home

Israeli officials issued an order Thursday for the demolition of a terrorist’s home in east Jerusalem.

The terrorist, Muhammed Naif El-Ja’abis, is the man who ran over a pedestrian and then ran an excavator into a bus.  He was shot dead by police as he carried out the bus attack.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered the resumption of the policy of destroying homes of Palestinian terrorists in response to the increasing tension in Jerusalem and the vows of Palestinians to continue their attacks on Israelis.

The policy of destruction of the homes had been discontinued a decade ago with the exception of the homes of the Hamas members who abducted and killed three Jewish teens in June.

Jerusalem’s mayor voiced his support for the order saying that all legal measures need to be used to prevent terror attacks.