Grieving from a distance
Heather Husband stared at her TV through tears Tuesday afternoon as her former high school turned into a battleground.
As her sorority sisters comforted her, the University of Arizona freshman waited anxiously for her younger brother to emerge from Columbine High School - then ran for a phone.
"God, I was really, really scared," she said.
As the most violent high school killing in U.S. history unfolded in her hometown of Littleton, Colo., Husband heard a busy signal for hours until she reached her mother.
The family lives about 10 minutes from the school, which she described as a "typical, everyday high school - a good high school - with good school spirit."
Heather's brother, John Husband, was among the first students to escape the massacre that left 14 Columbine classmates and her former basketball coach dead.
John Husband, 16, was in the weight room when explosions triggered the fire alarms. Teachers yelled at her brother and his classmates, telling them to run as the bombs exploded and the gunfire ricocheted through high school hallways.
John's best friend, Seth Houy, and his sister Sarah were in the library when the killers entered and said, "Anyone in a white hat, stand up. We're going to kill you."
Seth, a sophomore, tossed his white hat underneath the desk and grabbed his younger sister. The two, along with Sarah's friends, found their way out a backdoor of the library as gunshots rang out.
Heather, who graduated from Columbine last year, didn't know Eric Harris, 18, or Dylan Klebold, 17 - the students in black trenchcoats who reportedly took their own lives after killing their classmates.
She said students dressed in the black garb while she was at Columbine, but "a lot of people didn't know them." Heather Husband said the rumors about the "Trenchcoat Mafia's" agenda to kill minorities and athletes was probably the result of feeling like outcasts.
"I think they just had a lot of hate toward the world for a lot of different reasons," she said. "This was a lesson for everyone - that people should be nice to other people."
But one of the kindest people at Columbine High School was a casualty of the shooting spree, she said. David Sanders, her basketball coach during her freshman and sophomore years, died in the library.
"He was awesome," she said. "He was just the nicest guy, and he went out of his way to help out whenever he could.
"And what happened there - every time I think about it, I just start crying," she said.
Mark Levine, a local college grief counselor, encouraged students dealing with the tragedy to contact a 24-hour hotline at 323-9373. The UA offers help from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Counseling and Psychological Services division of the university's health center.
Levine said students dealing with the Colorado tragedy need to find a "non-judgmental" listener who can offer support.
"I think even long distance, we can feel this grief," he said. "I think people need a compassionate guide who will allow someone to talk and feel listened to."
Littleton residents were mourning about 900 miles away yesterday, as the bodies were removed from the high school and 1,500 people gathered at a local church for a memorial service.
As dusk set in Tucson, Heather Husband, 19, wanted to be with her family.
"I wish I could go home. No one here relates to me and no one knows how great a school it was," she said. "So much of me was tied into that school because it held so many happy memories."