GOLDEN, Colo. -- The two students who gunned down 12 schoolmates and a teacher at Columbine High bragged about making pipe bombs and said they were looking for a "ground zero" two years before the bloodbath -- and authorities knew it, the county sheriff said yesterday.
Authorities have said that they knew about violent rants by Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold in 1998, a year before the shootings, and that a search warrant was not acted upon.
But Jefferson County Sheriff Ted Mink, who took office in July, said yesterday that someone had called the sheriff's office a year earlier, in 1997, to tip off authorities about a website run by Harris.
A deputy investigated the tip and forwarded a report and printouts from the website to a sheriff's investigator in charge of computer-related crimes, Mink said.
The investigation of the website apparently stopped there, Mink said. The report was not found until last week, when a deputy came upon it as he was leafing through a training manual, the sheriff said.
On the website, Harris and Klebold described building pipe bombs from scratch.
"Now our only problem is to find the place that will be `ground zero,' " the site says, according to the report. Some families have been sharply critical of the sheriff's office and one of Mink's predecessors -- Sheriff John Stone -- for the handling of the Columbine investigation. They have accused authorities of ignoring or missing warning signs that Harris and Klebold planned to kill.
Sue Petrone, whose son, Daniel Rohrbough, was killed at Columbine, said she was astonished to see the year 1997 on the report.
"That's another chance that someone had to keep my son alive," she said.
Some details about the website's content were released immediately after the shootings, including threats of violence and boasts about the teenagers' ability to build pipe bombs.
Mink said he had asked Colorado Attorney General Ken Salazar to investigate why the 1997 report had not been included in the documents that were reviewed as part of the probe into the massacre.
Mink and Salazar met with families of the victims to discuss the report before it was released.