A survivor of the Columbine massacre reaches out to one of the shooter’s moms
In April 1999, Anne Marie Hochhalter was paralyzed below the waist after being struck by a bullet in the shootings at Columbine. Months after that, her mother — who had been battling depression — committed suicide. To say this woman, now 34, has been to hell and back is an understatement.
Yet she still found it in her heart to reach out to the mother of the boy who shot her during that horrible rampage, and changed her life forever. Hochhalter took to Facebook yesterday to post a letter to Sue Klebold, the mother of Dylan Klebold — one of the Columbine shooters.
Dylan, and his classmate, Eric Harris, killed 13 people and then themselves. Sue Klebold just wrote a book, A Mother’s Reckoning. All the proceeds from her book will go towards helping those with mental illness — a fact that touched Hochhalter enough to reach out to her and tell her what her life has been like since the shooting, and how she’s moved on.
“I have no ill-will towards you,” Hochhalter writes. “Just as I wouldn’t want to be judged by the sins of my family members, I hold you in that same regard. It’s been a rough road for me, with many medical issues because of my spinal cord injury and intense nerve pain, but I choose not to be bitter towards you.” She explains that she understands “agonizing” over what could’ve been done differently, as she’s struggled with the same feelings over her mother’s death.
She confesses that she’s held on to a letter Klebold wrote her after the shooting, and posts a picture of it. All these years, she’s held on to that mother’s forgiveness. She didn’t have to reach out to her. She didn’t have to attempt to absolve her of any guilt she’s been carrying. But she did.
Klebold will appear on 20/20 tonight and talk with Diane Sawyer about the shootings, and her new book. It’s the first time she’s spoken publicly about the violence and the death of her son. In her book, she admits she’s lived with tremendous guilt over the lives her son took and the horror he caused. It’s pretty poignant for Hochhalter to reach out the day before the mother is scheduled to speak about it for the first time.
“A good friend once told me, ‘Bitterness is like swallowing a poison pill and expecting the other person to die.’ It only harms yourself,” Hochhalter writes. “I have forgiven you and only wish you the best.”
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