In the days immediately following the shootings, it was speculated that Harris and Klebold purposely chose athletes, minorities and Christians as their victims. It initially was reported that one student, Cassie Bernall, was asked by one of the gunmen if she believed in God. When Bernall allegedly said, “Yes,” she was shot to death. Her parents later wrote a book titled “She Said Yes,” honoring their daughter. However, it later was determined the question was not posed to Bernall but to another student who already had been wounded by a gunshot. When that victim replied, “Yes,” the shooter walked away. Subsequent investigations determined Harris and Klebold chose their victims randomly, and the two teens originally had intended to bomb their school, potentially killing hundreds of people.
There was speculation that Harris and Klebold committed the killings because they were members of a group of social outcasts called the Trenchcoat Mafia that was fascinated by Goth culture. It also was speculated that Harris and Klebold had carried out the shootings as retaliation for being bullied. Additionally, violent video games and music were blamed for influencing the killers. However, none of these theories was ever proven.
Through journals left behind by Harris and Klebold, investigators eventually discovered the teens had been planning for a year to bomb the school in an attack similar to the 1995 Oklahoma City bombings. Investigative journalist Dave Cullen, author of the 2009 book “Columbine,” described Harris as “the callously brutal mastermind,” while Klebold was a “quivering depressive who journaled obsessively about love and attended the Columbine prom three days before opening fire.”