DENVER, Colorado — Monday marked a week since Australian twins Kristin and Candice Hermeler shot themselves at a Colorado shooting range -- a week which revived the spectre of Columbine here, as eerie links emerge.
Candice, who failed to kill herself at the Family Shooting Centre in Cherry Creek State Park last Monday afternoon, remains in stable condition, her parents at her bedside battling to come to terms with the tragedy.
The double suicide bid, shocking as it already was, took on more chilling air after links emerged with the 1999 Columbine High School massacre, in which 13 people were gunned down by students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold.
First investigators found a photocopy of a Time magazine cover about Harris and Klebold, who went on the rampage at their school in the tiny town of Littleton, less than 20 miles west of Cherry Creek State Park.
Then it emerged at the weekend that Krisin Hermeler had written two letters to a Columbine student who was once bullied by Harris, and who survived the massacre only because the two killers told him to stay out of school that day.
In the handwritten letters, sent just two months after the killings, Kristin Hermeler praised Brown for having forgiven Harris despite having been bullied by him in 1998.
In the first she referred to how "Eric (Harris) had threatened your life for a year at one stage and in spite of this you gave him a second chance.
"As someone who has been rejected, victimized and ostracized in their life, I would like to thank you for giving him that chance," she said, lamenting that Harris and Klebold had been "rejected and victimized by so many others."
In the second letter she refers to the massacre, saying: "Not a day goes by that I do not think about what happened. I cannot imagine how hard it must be for you dealing with everthing.
"Words could never tell you how sorry I am," she adds.
Local police have downplayed the Columbine link, notably saying that the surviving twin Candice, when asked about the Time magazine cover found in their hotel room, said she didn't "give a hoot" about the massacre.
For the local sheriff's office the case has already been closed: killing yourself is not a crime in Colorado, and the shootings have been classified as one suicide and one attempted suicide.
But one local newspaper columnist reflected how the massacre, in which Columbine High School students Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold killed 13 people in the tiny town of Littleton in 1999, still casts a shadow here.
"This time Columbine's reach seems to have extended literally halfway around the world and may possibly have brought twin sisters from Australia to an Arapahoe County shooting range," wrote Mike Littwin in the Denver Post.
"One sister, Kristin, is dead. The other, Candice, survived a self-inflicted gunshot wound to her head to tell the story of their suicide pact -- and now must try to somehow live with it," he added.
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