expressing myself through explicit and violent lyrics, and poems wasn’t enough anymore. I was tired of fighting off emotions that I had to let out. Though I did not feel at ease to discuss my thoughts with anyone but myself. I felt the next thing left to release anger would be through violence. I had just gotten the idea from the shooting at Columbine High School on April 20. So the Monday of the May 20 shooting, I decided to open fire May 20, one month after the Colorado shooting. But I didn’t really assure myself that I would.
Investigations after the incident disclosed multiple instances in which T.J. said things to other people before the incident that indicated his feelings of identification with the Columbine killers. He began to talk about Columbine in odd ways to other people. His remarks did not make sense to them and were disregarded at the time. They were not direct threats but rather oblique speculations. During this same period, another boy in this same area had made direct threats to enact a Columbine scenario, and this boy was identified and committed to a mental institution. Those hearing T.J.’s remarks discounted them.
A member of his scout troop reported that during a discussion of Columbine, T.J. had said, “I should do something like that.” T.J. also made a number of remarks in the presence of a small group of students he ate lunch with. Those students later stated to investigators or in court that, with explicit to reference to Columbine, “He said it should have happened to our school a long time ago,” that he “could understand” the Columbine killers “wanting to shoot the jocks and preps,” and “that the kids at Columbine were aiming at certain people and that slowed them down, and if he ever shot at Heritage, that he wouldn’t take any time to aim, that he would shoot at everybody.”
The record contains two different versions of reports by one student, a boy named Trey Carver, that T.J. had made statements about shifting blame to the band Korn if he did something heinous. The difference between the two statements is that the heinous act in question in the previous version, recorded by investigators immediately following the incident, is suicide. In the latter version, from testimony at T.J.’s transfer hearing, the act in question is shooting up the school.
In subsequent legal proceedings, the defense and prosecution attorneys agreed that T.J. had been obsessed with Columbine but disagreed about whether his identification with the Columbine killers was or was not bound up with suicidal ideations. Evidence on this point was tied to two different reports by a classmate. The investigator’s notes from the interview on May 20, the afternoon of the shooting, record the classmate as saying “T.J. told me one day that he thought it would be real cool if he could put some song lyric on his calculator about suicide and if he committed suicide, people would blame the band that wrote the song lyrics