- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 21, 2004

LITTLETON, Colo. — The 1999 Columbine High School massacre has come back to broadside Democratic U.S. congressional candidate David Thomas.

A state grand jury report released Thursday said Mr. Thomas, the Jefferson County district attorney, attended a “private meeting” days after the shooting in which county officials agreed not to disclose a 1998 draft affidavit to search the home of teenage gunman Eric Harris.

Later, a related file and notes disappeared from the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, according to the grand jury, which was convened in February at the behest of state Attorney General Ken Salazar.

The secret meeting has some Columbine families accusing Mr. Thomas and Jefferson County officials of violating the state’s open-meeting laws at best, and participating in a conspiracy at worst.

“He says he represents the families, but the families are looking for information, and then they find out that Dave Thomas is in this meeting where they’re agreeing not to tell the families anything,” said Judy Brown, whose son, Brooks, received death threats from Harris before the shooting.

The report’s timing could not be worse for Mr. Thomas, who finds himself fending off criticism about his role in the Columbine tragedy in the middle of a tight congressional race. He is challenging Republican Rep. Bob Beauprez, a first-term congressman who won by just 121 votes in 2002.

The Rocky Mountain News yesterday led with a full-page editorial titled, “In Columbine probe Thomas was a flop.”

“[T]he report released last week by the Columbine grand jury casts new light on Thomas and it isn’t flattering, considering he was sworn to serve Jeffco citizens, not protect the reputation of the sheriff’s office,” said the editorial. “The added irony, of course, is that Thomas is claiming his role in the Columbine investigation makes him the better candidate in the race for Congress in the 7th District.”

A three-term district attorney, Mr. Thomas released a statement Monday saying he had no role in the Columbine investigation and denying he shredded any documents related to the case.

He said he was asked at the private meeting to determine whether there was enough evidence in the draft affidavit to have issued a search warrant for Eric Harris’ home.

“District Attorney Thomas determined there was not enough evidence for a judge to have issued a search warrant,” said a statement released by the campaign. “That was the extent of his involvement.”

Columbine families have long argued that a search of the Harris home could have revealed hidden firearms and pipe bombs that were later used by Harris and gunman Dylan Klebold.

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