Parents of Columbine High School shooting victims chopped down two of 15 memorial trees to protest the inclusion of the gunmen's families, two newspapers reported today.
The felling of the two 10-foot linden trees occurred during a rally Sunday at the West Bowles Community Church, according to the Denver Post and Denver Rocky Mountain News
The 15 trees had been planted about two weeks ago by church members in an effort to pay tribute to the families of all who died in the April 20 massacre, including the parents of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold who killed 12 students and a teacher, then committed suicide.
About 50 protesters gathered Sunday to affix 13 of the trees with names of the shooting victims. Then they watched silently as the two trees left nameless were cut down by Al Velasquez and Rich Petrone, whose son and stepson, respectively, were killed in the massacre, the newspapers said. Cheers resounded as the trees fell.
"It makes me sick to even have to hear the names Klebold and Harris in the same sentence as my kid," said Velasquez, whose son, Kyle, was killed in the assault.
Petrone, stepfather of slain student Daniel Rohrbough, said the church "can honor murderers, but they're not going to honor Dan with them."
No arrests were made.
Church youth group members propped the trees up after the protest.