Mollie Holt

Columbine survivor

Video transcript

My name is Mollie Holt. I was as senior in 1999 at Columbine High School when the shooting occurred, and I was at lunch at the time of the shooting.

So that day I got out of class early and had I not gotten out of class early I would have been there for it, and I think about that all the time, like I'm getting goosebumps even thinking about it. You know, some days I went to lunch and some days I didn't and then I stayed there. But I think about that all the time. I could have helped somebody if I was there. Why wasn't I there?

I have definitely struggled with severe depression and addiction since everything happened at Columbine. Every day is a struggle. I feel like I wear a mask, because on in the inside I am struggling so bad, but I don’t want people to know that, and I’ve always been brought up and taught to be a strong person, and so I don’t let that side out.

But it definitely affects me. I miss my coach every day. But I definitely deal with severe depression and addiction as a result.

Remembering those who died

Mr. Sanders was my fastpitch softball coach all four years, and he meant the world to me. I think about him all the time. He was a great man. He was selfless. And he had a great sense of humor. He was an excellent coach. He was always there for you no matter what. I felt nothing but support and love from him, and I still feel like even though he is not physically with me, that he is with me everyday, he protects me, helps guide me. I miss him with all my heart.

If I could tell him one thing, it would just be thank you. Just, thank you for being there for all of us. Thank you for putting your life on the line so that kids would survive.

I had photography class with Rachel Scott and Cassie Bernall and it was really tough when we went back to school because that table was empty and it was eerie just to look at an empty table and think the two girls that were sitting here are dead, they're gone.

Interactions with the shooters

When they told us who it was, I couldn't believe it, because I had so many classes with the two individuals that - and I'm definitely not defending them in any way, but I definitely was shocked, couldn't believe it, couldn't believe it at all that anyone would do anything of that nature. They were just quiet… even to this day it blows my mind that they went through with that. I never would’ve thought in a million years.

It felt like, it was like a combination of someone punched me in the gut, and it felt like I was falling, like I jumped off a building. So I lost my breath and I felt extremely anxious, sick to my stomach, but in shock, and I think even knowing that it took a while for it to sink in that these two did this. I just never would have thought in a million years. They were so quiet.

One of them [the shooters] was very smart… I'm sure they both were, but you know, I only knew the one, better than the other.

[He] was very smart and helped me study for tests. He gave me answers to quizzes, you know things that you do in high school that probably aren’t the best idea but. He did that. He would joke around with me about softball. I'm a goofy person. He would joke around with me about how goofy I was, my taste in 80’s music, we had that in common, and then just my father's military experience.

So my father came and spoke to one of my classes about his time in Vietnam. And after the class was over one of them came up to me and wanted to know all about my dad's experiences in Vietnam and you know, I thought, ‘Okay that's normal,’ but now that I think about it, the questions that he asked me and my dad had nothing to do with his time in Vietnam or his role in the military. Moreso ‘Did you kill anybody? Have you ever seen anybody die? What's that feel like?’ and I know that kids have a morbid fascination with things but I found that kind of odd that he didn't ask any questions about my dad being a helicopter pilot or the several tours he did in Vietnam.

It was just kind of morbid questions and it just seemed odd. Even my dad made a comment afterwards that that kid has quite a fascination with death. And I guess back then I just didn't see it but now I do.

Looking back on that, that was not normal. You should've seen the look on his face when he was talking to my dad. He was very excited, he was all in 100 percent on what my dad had to say. Just about, you know, death and dying.

Nowadays if somebody was to talk to me like that I would probably say something to somebody. Or just leave them alone, because there's no trust there anymore.

Can peers help prevent school shootings?

I am very cautious of what people say to me now, and I take a lot of stock in what they say, whereas back then I did not. So if somebody talks to me like that nowadays I usually step back and distance myself from them and I'll think about why are they talking to me about said subject. There has to be a reason why and I feel like yes, I have this mindset now that I definitely wouldn’t have then, and it just takes time with years.

I think it's tough as a child, or I mean even as a teen, I don't think you possess those skills yet fully. And that's frustrating, because thinking back on that now is so different to me and it seems so obvious. But back then none of it did. Gosh, I just I just don't think even with all the tools in place nowadays for kids with school violence, I just don't think the maturity level is quite there. It wasn't for me and I was a senior you know?

That was the first mass school shooting and there was nothing in place to prepare us for that, there were no tools, there was no nothing, and it just breaks my heart that the people that were there were there and witnessed what they saw. I think about it all the time all the time.

I think we've we've learned… I wouldn't say a lot, I think we've learned from it. But I also feel like it has paved the way to give certain kids excuses or something to shoot for. Like you know what, nobody understands me and I'm upset. ‘Hey I should do was what happened at Columbine. These two boys are an inspiration to me!’

So that part, I don't think we've learned much from, I feel like it's being glamorized if anything. And obviously all the school shootings since, I mean things are put in place to prevent that and it's still happening. It's sad, it's so sad to me. You would think that after that happened that we wouldn't be hearing about this, which seems to me like every couple months. And I just feel like it's glamorized anymore.

Finding healing

After everything happened, I went to go see a psychiatrist, probably a month after everything happened. And he diagnosed me as bipolar. And I know that that is not a side effect of things happening, of what happened, but I know that it probably pushed it along because I know that most people aren't diagnosed til they're in their mid-20s and I was 18.

But it's definitely affected me, you know, it… there are days where it takes all I have to even get out of bed.

A couple years ago, I was going through some old photos and I came upon this letter from Mr. Tonelli, a teacher at Columbine High School, that he had written to my parents in June of 1999. And basically it said that my parents raised a wonderful daughter and that God has special plans for me. He appreciated that I was there to make sure everybody else was okay instead of myself.

Nothing in this world has touched me more than that letter has touched me. I can’t think of anything even close. That letter means so much to me, and I wished I had known about it earlier. Because I feel like that had I known, it would have given me the confidence needed to carry through life, and I think, help people.

Mollie Holt was the pitcher on the Columbine High School softball team in 1999. Her coach was Dave Sanders, who was killed in the gunfire. Mollie knew the two shooters who killed 13 people and has struggled with depression since the shooting.