The mother of one of the Columbine shooters, Sue Klebold, said that her son, Dylan Klebold, accidentally revealed that he was Jewish when he mentioned dreading a family Passover seder, which created a moment of tension with his fellow shooter, Eric Harris.
Harris and Klebold had openly admired Adolf Hitler and on Hitler’s birthday in 1999, they opened fire on students and teachers, ultimately killing 12 students and one teacher, and injuring 23 people before killing themselves.
Sue Klebold told Terry Gross on “Fresh Air” on February 16 that she is Jewish, and that her now ex-husband, Dylan’s father, is Lutheran, and that her son did not want to attend the family’s Passover seder weeks before the Columbine shooting.
Klebold remembers seeing a video after the shooting where her son mentions the upcoming family seder, which ultimately led to a tense moment with Harris, who she believes was previously unaware that Dylan had Jewish family.
“What was surprising and shocking about that component of the tapes was that it was obvious to Eric that he didn’t know that Dylan had Jewish family members – that it was a surprise to Eric. And I remember Dylan sort of backpedaling and saying, ‘Well, she’s not really Jewish. She’s really just sort of an eighth Jewish, or maybe a fourth Jewish,’” Sue Klebold said.
“And Eric stared at him in the tapes. And there is a moment in observing those where you really wonder what Eric is going to do, if he is going to extend sort of a condemnation to Dylan or to me. And it’s very quiet for a moment. And you can see that Dylan is visibly shaken by having to reveal this.”
The videotaped conversation was found on the “basement tapes,” where the shooters shared their hatred, including a hatred for Jews, and described their violent plans. The tapes were later destroyed, for which Sue Klebold had advocated.
Klebold explained that ultimately, Harris decided not to hold Dylan’s Jewish heritage against him.
“But then Eric says you know, ‘That’s a bummer,’ or you know, ‘I’m sorry man,’ or something that’s expressing his sympathy for having to deal with this,” she said.
Klebold is promoting her book, “A Mother’s Reckoning,” which describes how she dealt with her son’s murder-suicide. All of the author proceeds from the book, except for expenses, will be donated to research and charitable foundations that deal with mental health issues.
After the basement tapes were filmed, and prior to the Columbine shooting, Dylan Klebold ultimately attended the Passover seder, where he read the Four Questions.