(Note: Most loyal Alternative Right readers are aware that I extensively researched the Columbine High School massacre of April 20, 1999 en route to composing my novel The Columbine Pilgrim. While studying Columbine, I’ve befriended many other people, who for one reason or another find themselves drawn to the scrutiny and analysis of this most sensational and horrific of all high school spree killings in history.
Recently, through Utah-based Columbine researcher Reta Wallis, I was fortunate enough to meet Columbine survivor Richard Castaldo. Over the course of speaking to Reta and myself, Mr. Castaldo—whose crippled body is still riddled with bullets fired from the rifles of the Columbine gunmen-- has spoken of his memories of that day, and in so doing, has revealed certain crucial details that he has never told anyone before.
Now, as an exclusive story broken here at Alternative Right, Richard’s sure to be controversial account is told for the first time, on the eve of the 13 year anniversary of the Columbine shooting.)
A survivor of the brutal massacre at Columbine High School 13 years ago has come forward with a startling new revelation concerning the events of that infamous day of horror and carnage.
Richard Castaldo, who as a 17-year old Columbine High School junior was among the first of the Columbine students to be shot by seniors Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold on April 20, 1999, now says he’s long kept certain details of the event secret for personal reasons.
But in an exclusive set of interviews with this reporter and his assistant, Castaldo has revealed his secret: After Dylan Klebold shot him, Castaldo now maintains, Eric Harris pointed his rifle at Castaldo and asked if he believed in God.
As frightened as he felt, Castaldo said he responded with candor.
“I answered honestly,” Castaldo says. “I told him ‘no’. I told him ‘no,’ and I ‘m alive because of it.”
Castaldo, who was initially sprayed with bullets from Harris and Klebold while sitting outside of the cafeteria, also recalls how his friend Rachel Scott, who sat close by, was felled by the same torrent of gunshots.
According to Castaldo, Rachel Scott did not immediately die. Like him, she was wounded badly and in terrible pain, having been shot several times in the chest and legs. Castaldo’s wounds were in his back, side, and left arm; they resulted in a shattering of his spinal cord and a likely lifelong paralysis.
As the two lay together on the ground, with noise, chaos, and tumult exploding all around them on a high school campus suddenly under siege, Castaldo could hear Scott crying, and tried his best to comfort her.
“I asked in vain if she was okay,” he remembers. “Obviously, I knew she wasn’t. I never got an answer.”
Then moments later, Eric Harris returned to the scene. Castaldo’s memory has wavered over the years concerning what Harris said to Scott. His earliest memory, however, was apparently that when Harris asked her if she believed in God, Scott answered, “You know I do,” after which Harris shot Scott in the head, killing her.
Today, he doesn’t recall her answer, but he assumes that Scott, who was a devout Christian, answered, “Yes.”
“That was why he shot her, I guess,” Castaldo said. “And he (Harris) thought I was the same way, which I’m not.”
Castaldo was and remains an agnostic. He answered Harris’s question—“Do you believe in God?”—in the negative, and believes that this is why Harris ultimately allowed him to live.
Though his reply was truthful, Castaldo admitted he sometimes regrets not having answered differently.
“I’m not always happy I didn’t have the balls to say ‘yes,'" he said.
Castaldo said he greatly respects the Scott family, even though he doesn’t share their religious convictions. He kept Harris’s question, and his answer, secret because he felt “awkward” about the entire affair.
“A lot of religious people hang their hat on this issue, and they want me to verify a belief that I don’t personally share,” he said.
Castaldo’s recollection of events calls into question the official account, promoted by FBI agent Dwayne Fuselier and publicized in Dave Cullen’s bestselling book Columbine. In Fuselier’s analysis, Harris likely never returned to the spot outside of the cafeteria to deliver the killing shot to Rachel Scott. Instead, Fusiler thinks that Harris immediately accompanied Klebold back into the building to continue the shooting rampage in the school’s hallways and the library.
Fuselier also theorizes that Rachel Scott very likely died immediately after being struck with the initial hail of bullets. Castaldo, however, said he clearly recalls Rachel crying for some time after being shot prior to Harris’s return to the scene.
Harris’s alleged questioning of Scott and Castaldo regarding their belief in God calls to mind an earlier controversy in investigations of Columbine. In the months following the massacre, some held that junior Cassie Bernall was shot dead by Harris and Klebold in the school’s library after Bernall answered “yes” to a question put to her by the killers: “Do you believe in God?”
This alleged incident inspired the bestselling book She Said Yes, written by Bernall’s mother Misty Bernall. However, it is now widely believed that Bernall was killed instantly at the scene and that the question was instead put to junior Valeen Schnurr, whom Harris and Klebold did not kill.
Castaldo’s revelations, if true, would seem to confirm that Harris and Klebold were motivated by anti-Christian animus, among numerous other hatreds.
The “basement tapes,” never released to the public, which the killers recorded in the weeks leading up to the massacre, apparently include Harris and Klebold gleefully mocking Jesus Christ, and cheering on the Romans who crucifed him.
In these tapes, Harris and Klebold also speak derisively of “Christian whores” at their school, one of whom they refer to by name as “Rachel.”
Castaldo, who appeared in Michael Moore’s 2002 documentary “Bowling for Columbine,” now lives in Los Angeles, California.