Columbine Tragedy: 20 years later

‘I don’t have the answers,' father says 20 years after daughter's death at Columbine

Rick Townsend, father of Lauren Townsend


Rick Townsend’s daughter Lauren has been gone for 20 years, and the thoughts still cross his mind.

“I wonder what she’d be like today,” Townsend said. “We lost graduation. A wedding. Grandkids. Sometimes I just sit and think about it.”

Townsend has devoted himself to keeping the memories of Lauren and the others who died with her in 1999 alive. He’s president of the Columbine Memorial Foundation, which maintains the memorial to the Columbine victims in Clement Park, adjacent to the high school.

“We’re here to remember those that died, support those who were injured, and honor those affected by the shooting,” Townsend said.

The school and the memorial are places of great importance to Townsend — the memorial as a place of remembrance, but the school as a place of life.

“The school is a vital part of the community,” Townsend said. “It was before this happened, and it still is today. Getting rid of the old library, where so many died, and building the new one made it so the school could be a valid, highly functioning high school, and not a monument to death and tragedy.”

Townsend said he still struggles to understand.

“I don’t know why these shootings are still happening,” he said. “People think because I lost a child to one I must know something others don’t, but I don’t know any more than they do. There’s the availability of guns, but it’s a multifaceted thing. There’s mental health issues. You can’t solve it by doing any one thing. I don’t have the answers.”

But Townsend does know that he’d like to see a more loving world.

“There’s a need to connect to people. We can commit to being more kind and accepting and considerate of others. Try to pass that along to others.”


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