On This Day … 18 May [2022]

People (Deaths)

  • 2019 – Austin Eubanks, American addiction recovery advocate, survivor of the Columbine shooting (b. 1981).

Austin Eubanks

Stephen Austin Eubanks (07 October 1981 to 18 May 2019) was an American motivational speaker on addiction and recovery.

He was a survivor of the Columbine High School massacre, in which his best friend, 17-year-old Corey DePooter, was killed and Eubanks was shot in his hand and knee. Eubanks struggled with opioid addiction after the shooting. Eubanks was the chief operations officer for the Foundry Treatment Centre.

Columbine Shooting

The Columbine High School massacre was a school shooting and attempted bombing that occurred on 20 April 1999, at Columbine High School in Columbine, Colorado, United States.

The perpetrators, twelfth grade (senior) students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, murdered 12 students and one teacher. Ten students were killed in the school library, where the pair subsequently committed suicide. Twenty-one additional people were injured by gunshots, and gunfire was also exchanged with the police. Another three people were injured trying to escape. At the time, it was the deadliest high school shooting in US history. The shooting has inspired dozens of copycat killings, including many deadlier shootings across the world. The word “Columbine” has become a byword for school shootings.

In addition to the shootings, Harris and Klebold planted several homemade bombs in the school, although they failed to detonate. Two bombs were set up as diversions at another location away from the school, one of which (partially) detonated. The motive remains unclear, but they had planned for around a year and hoped to massacre the most victims in US history, which at the time meant exceeding the death toll of the Oklahoma City bombing.

The police were slow to enter the school and were heavily criticized for not intervening during the shooting. The incident resulted in the introduction of the Immediate Action Rapid Deployment tactic, which is used in active shooter situations. Columbine also resulted in an increased emphasis on school security with zero tolerance policies. Debates and moral panic were sparked over guns and gun control laws, high school cliques, subcultures (e.g. goths), outcasts, and school bullying, as well as teenage use of pharmaceutical antidepressants, the Internet and violence in video games and movies.

Many impromptu memorials were created after the massacre, including victims Rachel Scott’s car and John Tomlin’s truck. Fifteen crosses for the victims and shooters were also erected on top of a hill in Clement Park. The crosses for Harris and Klebold were removed later following controversy. The Columbine Memorial began planning as a permanent memorial in June 1999 and opened to the public on 21 September 2007.