On April 20, 1999, two teenage boys fatally shot 13 people and injured 24 others at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado. A Mother Jones investigation shows that the nation’s deadliest high school shooting has inspired at least 74 plots or attacks across 30 states. To gauge just how deep the problem goes, we examined scores of news reports and public documents and interviewed multiple law enforcement officials.

The data we have compiled reveals some disturbing patterns. In at least 14 cases, the Columbine copycats aimed to attack on the anniversary of the original massacre. Individuals in 13 cases indicated that their goal was to outdo the Columbine body count. In at least 10 cases, the suspects and attackers referred to the pair who struck in 1999, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, as heroes, idols, martyrs, or God. And at least three plotters made pilgrimages to Columbine High School from other states.

As one longtime security specialist explains in our investigation into a growing national effort to stop mass shooters before they strike, “It’s a cult following unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.”

Mother Jones is not publishing our research on Columbine copycats beyond the numbers and analysis below. Though much of the case-level details we’ve collected are publicly available, we have chosen not to make them easily accessible in one place, where they might potentially be used by would-be copycats searching for inspiration or information. For more of our reporting on the copycat problem stemming from Columbine and other high-profile attacks, read the main investigation here.

One More Thing

And it's a big one. Mother Jones is launching a new Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on the corruption that is both the cause and result of the crisis in our democracy.

The more we thought about how Mother Jones can have the most impact right now, the more we realized that so many stories come down to corruption: People with wealth and power putting their interests first—and often getting away with it.

Our goal is to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We're aiming to create a reporting position dedicated to uncovering corruption, build a team, and let them investigate for a year—publishing our stories in a concerted window: a special issue of our magazine, video and podcast series, and a dedicated online portal so they don't get lost in the daily deluge of headlines and breaking news.

We want to go all in, and we've got seed funding to get started—but we're looking to raise $500,000 in donations this spring so we can go even bigger. You can read about why we think this project is what the moment demands and what we hope to accomplish—and if you like how it sounds, please help us go big with a tax-deductible donation today.

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