Columbine, Frank, Frank D'angelo discussed on Key Battles of American History


War or 9 11 or many other things. And in this episode, which is really just a snippet, you'll have to go to his podcast feed if you want to listen to the entire episode. But in this episode, Josh speaks with the former principal of Columbine high school, Frank D'angelo. Frank and Josh discussed the events of the tragic shooting. What the police were doing at the time of the shooting, as well as the potential motivations of the two shooters, Eric Harris, and Dylan Klebold. They also discussed the infamous basement tapes, as well as seeing Klebold the previous week at prom. In addition to a lot more. So it's a tough thing to listen to. It's a sensitive topic, and it may not be for everyone. But if you are interested in learning more about what was happening on the ground by someone who was there right on the spot, I highly recommend that you check this out. Okay, that's it. So here is the episode. Let's jump right into it, Frank. Walk me through, please, then April 20th, 1999. Where were you and how did you find out there was something wrong? Yeah. Well, on April 20th, a beautiful, beautiful Colorado spring day, we have snow, but we have sunshine about 300 days out of the year, and it was one of those beautiful days. But I didn't start out at Columbine. I actually started out our students were future business leaders of America were receiving an award. So they invited me to be there to congratulate them. So I'm late getting back to Columbine. And when I got back, I was looking for a teacher, Kiki leba, whose student taught at Columbine, he was on a one year contract, and we had interviewed him the day before and it was a no brainer. We were going to hire this guy. He was fantastic. The kids loved him, just a great addition. But I couldn't find him. And all of a sudden, when he came to my office, it was right at the beginning of a lunch and we had two lunches, a lunch and B lunch. So I'm late getting downstairs for a lunch. While I'm sitting in my office and getting ready to talk to Kiki and to this day, I'm not sure if I ever offered the job. We kind of laugh about it now, but he still working at Columbine 23 years later. But the reason being is before I could offer him that the job and welcome to the Columbine family, rebels for life, were Columbine rebels in a secretary comes running towards the door and I remember it so vividly there was a little window just literally face planet there. And I knew something was wrong. James here, and now a brief word from our sponsors. And she opened the door and she said, Frank, there's been a report of gunfire, bombs exploding, and it's not registering. I mean, I had been there for 20 years. I could count on two hands the number of fistfights we had. And so the first thing I'm thinking, it has to be a senior prank. You know, we're about a month away from graduation. And so run out of my office and tell her to call police 9-1-1. And mind you, 23 years ago, the only girls we didn't Colorado were fire drills. And now you look at all the drills that the kids are learning from the time they enter elementary school. Run hide and fight drills, secure the perimeter line. We didn't ever had any of that. We did the best we could. So when I ran out of my office, Kiki went down one way, I went the other as soon as I came out to the office on my office doors, my worst nightmare became a reality because I encountered the gunman. And I remember it so vividly and everything just seemed to slow down and later what I learned was you go through something called fight, flight and freeze. And I went through and I thought I walked out very calmly, but I remember very distinctly what the gunman was wearing baseball cap turned backwards, white cutoff T-shirt, black vest, boots, and I just remember the shots being fired and glass breaking behind me. And all I kept thinking about, it just slowed down and all I kept thinking about what it was going to feel like to have a bullet pierced my body because I had never in my life encountered anything like that. And so I thought I walked very calmly, but I actually spread it towards a gunman. And I know when my secretary, Susan white and Kiki leiba saw me later outside, they were shocked because the last they saw me, I was spreading right towards the gunman. And I've had police officers say, Frank, why? You're unarmed. Why? And one reason one reason only my girls, I had some kids that were in trouble. And there were about 25 girls that were coming out of the locker room to go to a physical education class, and they were unaware of what was happening. And I got them there and I knew in my mind that if I got them into the gym and we'd be able to shut the door and then once I was able to check outside to see if it was safe because there was a report, a sniper is outside snipers on the building. I said, once I got him outside, we'd be in a safe place. Well, everything was known as planned. I'm keeping him calm, and then all of a sudden, I pull on the gym door and it's locked and we're in trouble. And the girls are screaming, girls start praying and literally the gunman is turning the corner. We hear the sounds of the shots getting closer, the boots on the ground. And I had about 35 keys on a key ring. And I was a principal that I work sued every day or sport code every day. I reached in my pocket and the first key I pulled out, I stuck in the door and it opened it on the first try. And it wasn't that this key was especially marked, and now when I go out and do presentations with people, I said, if you need to get to that key, if you need to get to that button, you need to be able to do it quickly. This key was not specially marked. It was just mingled in with all the others. And I was so fortunate to be able to do that on the first try because if I didn't more likely, I wouldn't be conducting this interview and those girls would have died. James here, and now a brief word from our sponsors. And it was several years ago Columbine girl softball team was playing in the state championship. And so at the game and all of a sudden, a young lady comes up to me and I recognize her. She was one of the girls with me on April 20th and she's crying. I'm crying pretty emotional and she spins me around. She said mister D do you see that girl there in right field? I said, yeah, she said, thank you for finding that key because that's my daughter. And if you didn't find that key, she wouldn't be playing in this game and got very emotional. And so it was from there, I immediately went outside and the thing that so disturbing in there's no one to blame, but it was a protocol at the time to secure the perimeter. Right. And we had a school resource officer that was exchanging gunfire. And he was being told that you can't go in until the S.W.A.T. team arrived and that was one of the most frustrating things and talking to the three or 400 people that were trapped in the building. They were being told, help is on the way and all of a sudden all these officers are arriving. Paramedics are arriving, but no one's coming in the building. And I got outside and I was actually helping the police officers draw floor plans at one point they were going to put a body armor on me to go into billing shut off the fire alarm because it was so loud that the police could not S.W.A.T. team could not communicate once they did arrive. And so by the time the S.W.A.T. team got there, it was about 58 minutes after the original shots were fired. And it's not the place's fault I have defended them to the very max because that was a protocol. And I even was on the street with many of the officers who were friends of mine and they said, you know, this is crazy. We've been sworn to protect and serve and we're standing outside. But that was a protocol at the time. Now you look at the protocol. First officers are immediately going in. Most of these events are over within three to 5 minutes. So that's what happened on that particular day. Thank you for listening to today's episode. Key battles of American history is a proud member of the Parthenon podcast network, which includes several great podcasts, including history on plug by Scott rank, beyond the big screen and history of the papacy by Steve Guerra. This American president by Richard Lim, eyewitness history by Josh Cohen, and vlogging through history by Chris mowry. If you haven't already, I strongly encourage you to check out these great podcasts. If you would like to support this podcast and help it to grow there are four things you can do. First, you can subscribe to the podcast and leave a review on the podcast player of your choice. This helps other people to find the podcast. Ratings and reviews on Apple podcasts are especially helpful. Second, join our Facebook group, American history fanatics, where we discuss the episodes of this podcast, as well as other topics related to American history. Third, tell as many friends as you can about the show. And fourth, you can join the elite unit called early's raiders by going to Patreon dot com and searching for key battles of American history. There are 5 different levels of support to choose from. Each level allows you to have early access to ad free episodes. Higher levels bring additional benefits, including bonus episodes, and even the ability to commission episodes on topics of your choosing. 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