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Investigators Intensify Search For New Shooting Suspects

By Tom Kenworthy

Washington Post -- Colorado

Investigators combing through Columbine High School on Thursday found a large propane bomb left behind in the aftermath of Tuesday’s shooting rampage, leading police to believe that the two gunmen likely had other accomplices who helped them plan and carry out the nation’s deadliest attack of school violence.

The discovery of the 20-pound propane tank and gasoline canister in the school kitchen spurred investigators to intensify their search for additional suspects and to question their previous assumptions that Eric Harris, 18, and Dylan Klebold, 17, were solely responsible for killing 12 classmates and a teacher before turning their guns on themselves.

“We have so many explosive devices, we’re questioning the ability of two people to bring that many” into the school, said Steve Davis, spokesman for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department. Police also found a note at one of the suspects’ homes that said no one else should be blamed for their actions, CNN reported. Authorities could not confirm the contents of the note.

In all, more than 30 explosive devices have been found in the school, in addition to three long guns, one handgun and hundreds of rounds of ammunition. The sheer volume of weaponry involved, federal and local officials said, is leading authorities to suspect a broader conspiracy.

“We just feel there is an extremely good chance there are others involved,” Davis said. The propane tank -- the same type used in gas barbecues -- were found hidden in duffle bags during a sweep of the kitchen area, apparently overlooked in an initial search for explosives. A senior federal law enforcement official said Thursday “the absolute central focus” of the massive criminal investigation underway here “is to determine whether others were involved.” The construction of the devices “was well within the capabilities of the two boys, but the number of the devices found in the school raises questions about possible accomplices.”

Yet with little other evidence that the two students had help, police here intensified their questioning of anyone who may have known Harris and Klebold or had knowledge of their preparations for the attack.

“There are numerous interviews going on with friends (and) family” of the two suspects, said Davis. “And sometimes we’re re-interviewing the same people.” The parents of both suspects have been interviewed and have retained lawyers. Both houses have been searched, and bomb-making material was removed from Harris’ house.

Neighbors reported hearing loud noises from the Harris garage over the weekend. Brent Wilde, who lives a few doors away, said neighborhood boys reported hearing breaking glass and the buzz of a power saw on Saturday and Monday afternoon. “I can’t believe they would let things go unnoticed,” Wilde said of Harris’ parents, Wayne and Katherine Harris.

Davis said police are particularly interested in information from the teens’ parents about their children’s lives, interests and attitudes. “A real good profile on our two suspects would be one of the primary things we’re interested in -- learning about them and who they were,” said Davis. “Because the question ’why’ is certainly one of the biggest questions in all this.”