Columbine Survivor Paralyzed in Shooting to Mother of Shooter: 'I Have Forgiven You and Only Wish You the Best'
Anne Marie Hochhalter wants Sue Klebold to know that she doesn't hold her accountable for her son
brightcove.createExperiences(); Columbine survivor Anne Marie Hochhalter, who was paralyzed from the waist down in the 1999 school shooting, says she harbors no grudge against Sue Klebold, the mother of one of the two shooters, ahead of Klebold’s interview on 20/20 Friday night.
Hochhalter, 29, posted an open letter to Klebold on Facebook Thursday, to let Klebold know that she holds no anger towards her.
“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.”
“A good friend once told me, ‘Bitterness is like swallowing a poison pill and expecting the other person to die.’ It only harms yourself. I have forgiven you and only wish you the best.”
Hochhalter was one of the 23 injured survivors from the 1999 school shooting at Columbine High School in Colorado, where 13 others died at the hands of two students, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. The shooting left Hochhalter paralyzed from the waist down. Just six months later, Hochhalter’s mother took her own life.
Hochhalter spoke with Denver’s 9News about her decision to reach out to Sue.
“I wanted to show people that forgiveness is possible and that holding on to bitterness and anger — it just ruins yourself,” she told 9News Thursday.
“You can t change what happened in the past and if I looked forward and focused on the positive in my life that s what s really important and that s what helps and makes me get up every day.”
Hochhalter also shared a letter Sue had sent as Hochhalter recovered in the hospital, apologizing for her son’s actions.
“With deepest humility we apologize for the role our son, Dylan, had in causing the suffering you and your family have endured,” Sue wrote at the time. “It is still terribly difficult for us to believe that the son we knew could play a role in causing harm to you and others. The reality that he shared in the responsibility for this senseless tragedy is beyond our comprehension.”
“It just was so genuine and filled with sorrow and compassion,” Hochhalter told 9News. “The fact that she made an effort spoke volumes.”
Hochhalter said that Sue had tried to reach out again in 2004, but Hochhalter wasn’t yet ready to meet with her.
“If she did reach out to me now I would be willing to talk to her, only if she wants to,” Hochhalter told 9News. “If I can help her by telling her I forgive her, maybe that’s one less person that she has to worry about if she even does worry about me.”