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Video catches teens honing skills to kill

Denver, Oct. 23 (Reuters): Only six weeks before carrying out the Columbine High School massacre, two teenage gunmen went target practising and wondered what it would be like to shoot someone in the head, a videotape released yesterday showed.

The target practice video depicts Dylan Klebold, 17, Eric Harris, 18, and three friends firing illegally sawed-off shotguns and a semi-automatic pistol in the foothills southwest of Denver.

The three weapons were later used in the April 20, 1999, rampage at the Littleton, Colorado, high school where the two students killed 13 people before killing themselves, in the deadliest school shooting in US history.

The videotape shows the five friends laughing at the damage done by the weapons to bowling pins and trees that were used as targets.

At one point, the gunmen show their bloodied hands, ripped open by the recoil from the high-power weapons. “Guns are bad; when you saw them off and make them illegal, bad things happen,” an off-camera voice said. Klebold also boasts of the “exit and entry” holes blown into a bowling pin. “Imagine that in someone’s brain,” Klebold said.

The tape was made public by the Jefferson county sheriff’s office at the urging of Colorado attorney general Ken Salazar, who formed a task force to seek the release of evidence from the investigation after some victims’ families said police kept details from them.

Brian Rohrbough, father of slain student Daniel Rohrbough, pushed for releasing the tape in the hope that other shootings might be avoided. “In all of the school shootings across the country, there have always been tremendous red flags,” Rohrbough said. “On this tape what they said they were going to do, they did.”

“This video is a shocking reminder of what can happen when a society makes it easy to obtain weapons,” Senator Frank Lautenberg, a Democrat from New Jersey and gun control supporter, said after viewing the tape.

Mark Manes and another friend also seen on the tape, Philip Duran, pleaded guilty and were sentenced to prison for selling Klebold and Harris an illegal semi-automatic pistol and for possessing an illegal weapon. Manes’ attorney, Robert Ransome, objected to the release of the tape, which he said he turned over to authorities in the first place.

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