View Full Version : Retiring official recalls Columbine tragedy - Garth mention

12-07-2006, 08:44 PM

Retiring official recalls chaos in wake of Columbine shootings

Associated Press
Dec. 7, 2006 01:07 PM

BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. - Retiring after decades in government, the man who helped manage the aftermath of the Columbine High School shootings looked back this week on the deluge of phone calls from frantic parents, the White House and scores of people in between.

"I've never experienced anything like it ... and I hope I never experience anything like it again," said Ron Holliday, who was the Jefferson County administrator at the time.

Holliday, 62, will retire Friday as Summit County manager, a position he took after leaving the Jefferson County job.

Two teen gunman killed 12 students and a teacher before taking their own lives at Columbine on April 20, 1999.

Word reached Holliday at about noon, and by 12:30, "we knew something was going on," Holliday told the Summit Daily News in Thursday's editions.

Holliday went to the county dispatch center, where communication panels were flashing and clusters of people were trying to make sense of the situation.

"On one phone, you have those kids trying to revive (mortally wounded teacher Dave) Sanders. Then over here, you have communication with the SWAT team," he said.

Holliday said the dispatch center was so busy that he and his team had little time to think about the scale of the tragedy until he took calls from President Clinton and network anchors.

Holliday also helped with the logistics of a memorial service attended by Vice President Al Gore. He said country music superstar Garth Brooks provided his entire sound system and road crew for the memorial and loaned his private jet to fly in dignitaries, but he wanted his help kept secret.

Brooks' publicist did not immediately return a call Thursday.

For months after Columbine, Holliday said, he wondered when the impact of the shooting would fade but then realized it never would.

"It just never stopped. It was like, When was this going to end?' " Holliday said. "The answer we came up with: It's never going to end."