LITTLETON, Colo. (AP) — The principal of Columbine High School, who helped shepherd students to safety during the 1999 shootings there, is retiring after 18 years of leading the school.
In a letter to parents Tuesday, Frank DeAngelis said he would step down at the end of the school year.
“People said, ‘I’m amazed you’re still there, that you have the strength,’” DeAngelis told KMGH-TV. “This place provides strength for me.”
DeAngelis was in his office the morning of April 20, 1999, when two student gunmen launched an attack on the school, killing 13 people.
He shepherded a group of about 20 students to safety that day, and he survived with no physical injuries. However, he has said the shootings left him with severe anxiety attacks that felt like heart attacks. He said the attack contributed to the end of his marriage of 17 years because he didn’t want to talk about what he was going through.
DeAngelis said he’s healthier now and believes schools everywhere are safer because people are now more likely to report suspicious behavior.
When people think about the Columbine shootings, DeAngelis said he hopes they think about the teacher and 12 students killed and the lessons they left behind.
“Hopefully that’ll be inspiration for others to know it doesn’t matter how much tragedy enters your life, there’s hope for a brighter future,” he said.
Information from: KMGH-TV, http://www.thedenverchannel.com