Columbine: 20 Years Later

Violent Lineage

Media contagion and Columbine.


They have been called many names—killers, psychopaths, misanthropes—but for a large percentage of mass murderers, one moniker is particularly fitting: Columbiners. Generally used to describe those who merely idolize the teenage perpetrators at Columbine High School in internet chat rooms, the sobriquet is also applied to those whose dark obsessions with the gunmen graduate to horrifying imitation in the real world. This diagram, compiled by psychologist and school shooter expert Peter Langman, illustrates two things: first, the direct lines of influence from the shooters at Columbine to the people behind subsequent attacks (red lines), and, second, the links between those who were influenced by Columbine and later perpetrators whom, in turn, they affected (black lines). It’s a sobering look at how the notoriety surrounding one unfathomable day continues to reverberate two decades later.

Infographic by Sean Parsons

This story is part of 5280 Magazine’s special issue dedicated to the 20th anniversary of Columbine. Read more about the project here.

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