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columbine - the victims

Corey Depooter
Pressure brought best from brave teen

By Bruce Finley
Denver Post Staff Writer

Corey Depooter April 23 - Corey Depooter was a patriotic guy "your grandfather would like'' who was willing to die for his country.

But not this way.

He was a solid 6-foot athlete who valued adults and American traditions and could give a firm handshake that showed it.

On the day he died, he carried U.S. Marines pamphlets in his backpack, which he showed to his friend Andrea Bannister enthusiastically in their first-period history class. An expert fisherman and dead-eye marksman, Depooter planned to join the Marines, make a career if he liked it, otherwise attend a good college.

He's survived by a 15-year-old sister and two grieving parents in a suburban home that was the only home he ever knew.

Depooter trusted that law and order would allow him a fair chance in life, and didn't expect more than that, according to friends and relatives. When the blood-spattered killers were walking down the hall to the Columbine High School library - where Depooter and dozens of other students were wondering whether to climb out windows - Depooter offered calm advice. Survivor Austin Eubanks recalled him saying: "Stay tight... The cops will come.'

The other students took his advice and huddled under tables, trying to control their shaking.

"But I never really saw him scared,'' said Eubanks, DePooter's best friend, who huddled next to him there. "Even under that table, he wasn't afraid.''

Eubanks and Depooter had talked of suspects Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold before. Both struck them as "weird people,'' Eubanks said.

"They were just different,'' he said. "When I heard the shooting, I thought it could be them. They would be the first people in the school that could be capable of it.''

The killers set down bags on table tops - apparently loaded with explosive devices, Eubanks said. They had two shotguns and a rifle and seemingly more stuff strapped to their paramilitary-style clothing. They aimed their guns under the tables and fired.

Eubanks confessed to sheer terror. He gripped DePooter's hand, his arm.

Head down, Depooter didn't even have to say to be quiet. The two best friends had hunted and fished so often together over three years, Eubanks said he just knew what Depooter was advising.

The greatest trip of their life had just finished. Their parents had agreed to let them go alone to Oklahoma to fish. The trip, planned for six months, started horribly, with Depooter's keys locked in his green Ford truck the night before, then a snow storm that had Depooter driving 30 mph into Kansas, then a wreck that left DePooter shaky and calling his father. They waited out the storm in Colby, Kan., and Depooter's father drove the family's Chrysler minivan out to Kansas to swap because the Ford, though not badly damaged, might not be safe enough for his only son.

The boys persevered. Their trip got better. In the end, Depooter caught the biggest fish of his life - a 7-pound bass - snagged in the brush.

And he'd impressed the hell out of Eubanks' grandfather and uncles in Oklahoma. He was the kind of best friend that, in situations like that, would leave you feeling good about yourself, Eubanks said Wednesday as he grieved.

"He just knew how to handle himself, how to talk... He was respectful to everyone, never looked down on people. He gave everyone a chance.''

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