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Ten Years After The Columbine Tragedy Patrick Ireland Reflects

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Ten Years After The Columbine Tragedy, Patrick Ireland Reflects
April 20, 2009 – 11:00 am by Michael Bean
On April 20th of 1999, America and the rest of the world was shocked by some of the most horrific and incomprehensible news possible. On what should have just been another Tuesday for students at Columbine High School that day, life was turned upside down when two students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, embarked on a shooting spree before committing suicide. For eleven students and one teacher, life was cut short prematurely by the gunmen, who turned their assault weapons on themselves afterwards.  Twenty-three others were wounded when the carnage finally came to a close, but there were countless others not hurt physically that would have to manage the horror and trauma they experienced that day for the remainder of their lives.

One such person was Patrick Ireland, who was shot twice in the head and once in the foot before somehow managing to crawl out a window to the safety of emergency personnel. The video of Patrick crawling out the 2nd floor window was shown thousands of times on television.  The gun wounds left him temporarily paralyzed for three hours, as the bullet lodged in his brain was dangerously close to leaving lasting neurological damage. Ireland joined 104.3 The Fan in Denver late last week to talk about the tragedy, his recovery and rehabilitation since then – both physically and emotionally – and to share some personal reflections on life since that awful day ten years ago today.
On what he thinks the word ‘Columbine’ should mean first and foremost when discussed:
“Everybody always brings it up when something else bad happens in the world, when there’s another school shooting or tragedy, people always relate it back to the Columbine shootings. It’s almost like we take offense to that..I think it should be used more for hope and courage and just the accomplishment we’ve been able to overcome and grow…”
On his thoughts when he looks back at footage or images from his escape from a window:
“Just surreal. The first full time seeing it I didn’t realize that the second story window was so high above the ground. And my objective was just to get out as quickly…”
On whether or not a culture of bullying had been created at Columbine that may have led to the tragic incident:
“I don’t buy much into that in terms of the bullying or creating this jock culture. There’s certainly a few individuals you could identify as being kind of jerks around the school, but all in all, and I believe this wholeheartedly, any school there’s going to be problems like that..regardless of grade level.”
On what he would say to the parents of the two killers if he had the chance:
“My family and I, we were able to get through a lot of this by having loving hearts and being able to have the support of friends and family and random people across the nation and across the world. All the support that was flowing from that – that needs to be translated in some form of forgiveness.”
On why he chose to return to Columbine High the following year to finish his senior year and graduate from the place where the traumatic incident occurred:
“I think a lot of us felt a connection, felt a lot of ownership..But the biggest thing is we as a community and those who chose to go back in that school the following year, did not want to let evil win.”
Listen here to Part 1 of Patrick Ireland on 104.3 The Fan in Denver
Listen here to Part 2 of Patrick Ireland on 104.3 The Fan in Denver
Tags: 10 year anniversary of Columbine shooting, Columbine, interview with survivor of Columbine shooting, Patrick Ireland, school shootings

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