LITTLETON, Colo. - April 20 marks 15 years since the mass shooting that killed 12 students and teacher Dave Sanders at Columbine High School in Littleton.
About 50 people honored the victims with a remembrance program yesterday at the permanent Columbine Memorial in Littleton's Clement Park.
Colorado Ceasefire Capitol Fund organized the program at the park amphitheater ahead of the anniversary that falls this year on Easter Sunday. The program included speeches from family members of two Columbine shooting victims and two victims of the Aurora movie theater shooting.
"Today, 15 years later, Columbine is a school again," said Coni Sanders, who lost her father Dave Sanders, in the shooting. "Columbine is a flower, Columbine is a community."
Columbine High School Principal Frank DeAngelis spoke a few years ago about his memories from the tragic day. He was in his office when the shootings began.
"I came right by this trophy case and all of a sudden I'm thinking, 'I'm going to die,'" he explained.
With shots being fired, he saw one of the gunmen and heard glass breaking all around him.
"Did you even know where you were going?" we asked.
"No," he said, "Something just kicked in."
He said he remembers seeing a group of girls trapped in the crossfire. He ran with them toward a room -- that was locked.
"I have 35 keys, and this is the thing that was so amazing, the one key that opened every door is the key I pulled out," DeAngelies said.
DeAngelis has been pretty open about the personal toll the shootings had on his life. His marriage of 17 years fell apart, and doctors warned him of raised blood pressure and cholesterol levels.
DeAngelis said he is now healthier and remains very positive.
He said he believes schools everywhere are safer. And while there have been other school shootings, he points to the many cases where violence hasn't happened because more people are aware.
"(Cases) where students are reporting things about their friends or something that may not have been right," DeAngelis said.
DeAngelis, says while the name "Columbine" will forever be associated with the tragic shootings, he hopes people will also think of the 13 victims -- and the lessons they've left behind.
"Hopefully that'll be inspiration for others to know it doesn't matter how much tragedy enters your life, there's hope for a brighter future," he said.
DeAngelis plans to retire at the end of the academic year, after more than 30 years at Columbine High School.