Columbine principal offers aid in wake of Virginia Tech |

Columbine principal offers aid in wake of Virginia Tech

Jon Sarche
Associated Press Writer
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

DENVER (AP) ” Columbine High School principal Frank DeAngelis, who has offered aid and advice to officials at schools targeted by gunmen since the 1999 massacre at his school, once again said he is ready to help if called for those suffering through the Virginia Tech tragedy.

DeAngelis and Jefferson County public schools Superintendent Cindy Stevenson said in a statement they were “in a state of shock” following the shootings Monday at Virginia Tech, where an English major was suspected of killing 32 people before committing suicide.

“We know all too well how a shooting of this magnitude affects an entire community,” the statement said. “Our hearts are breaking for the victims and their families. We offer them our deepest and most sincere prayers and condolences.”

DeAngelis has been praised for guiding Columbine students and parents through years of difficult healing after the April 20, 1999, massacre in which two students killed 12 fellow students and a teacher before committing suicide.

He did not immediately return a call for comment Tuesday. School district officials said he had been deluged with calls from the news media.

After a 53-year-old drifter took several students hostage and killed one at Colorado’s Platte Canyon High School in October, DeAngelis spent several days offering his experience in helping that community begin healing.

“I don’t think Columbine High School or Platte Canyon High School will ever return to normalcy,” DeAngelis said at the time. “You have to move on, you have to cope, you have to heal, but our lives are changed forever.”

In Denver, Gov. Bill Ritter said he sent a letter to Virginia Gov. Timothy Kaine offering to help the state cope with the shootings. Ritter, who worked on a task force that looked into the Columbine shootings, said the biggest task facing Virginia now is to help the survivors and victims’ relatives recover.

“Colorado still struggles beneath the weight of the Columbine High School shootings,” Ritter wrote. “I extend to you and to the Commonwealth of Virginia the benefit of our experiences and lessons learned. As a member of the Columbine Review Task Force, I believe we in Colorado can provide you with guidance and advice in the days ahead. I believe we had particular experience in dealing with the witnesses and victim family members that may inform you as you go forward.”

Ritter also ordered Colorado state flags lowered to half-staff to honor the victims at Virginia Tech. The flags will fly at half-staff until Sunday evening, mirroring President Bush’s order for federal flags.

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