The Morning After

By the time the sun came up on January 19, 2000, the whole world, it seemed, knew what had happened at Boland Hall. A small swarm of news helicopters hovered in the January air, their pilots barking breathless descriptions of the scene below to the 13 million radios in commuter cars jammed onto metropolitan highways and broadcasting live pictures of the mayhem into half as many television sets.

Boland Hall, fire trucks
Boland Hall, fire trucks
On the ground, it looked like a war zone. Near the front of the building, a small squad of firefighters who had been up all night now caught a quick break. They leaned against the back of a ladder truck or sat on the hard pavement beside it. A couple of them puffed away on cigarettes.

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The first firefighters on the scene had no idea what they were walking into. They had been told it was a couch fire. It wasn't until they saw the smoke billowing from the building that they realized the magnitude. They were caught so off-guard that they had to enlist students to help them hoist ladders to the third-floor windows until backup arrived. They also had to struggle with a frozen fire hydrant, which further slowed their efforts. But once the lines were laid and the firemen were in a position to, as they put it, "put the wet stuff on the red stuff," it took less than a minute to extinguish the blaze.

Now that it was all over, there was just a grim silence as the firefighters watched a steady stream of shrieking ambulances rush the more-than 50 injured kids to University Medical Center in nearby Newark, or to the stainless steel and cold tile burn unit at St. Barnabas in Livingston. It had taken a while for the evacuation to get started, so long, in fact that one of the police officers who first arrived on the scene commandeered an ambulance and drove an injured kid to the hospital himself.

Aaron Karol, victim
Aaron Karol, victim
The silence teetered on the edge of cold despair as the firefighters spotted the three ambulances that were in no hurry at all. Those were the ambulances that held the bodies of the three freshmen, Frank Caltabilota, Aaron Karol and John Giunta. The firefighters had done all they could. Now there was nothing left to do but watch.

John Giunta, victim
John Giunta, victim

1. The Fire

2. The Heart of the Fire

3. A Swirling Sea of Smoke

4. The Morning After

5. Where Were You When the Fire Started?

6. The Probe Begins

7. The Cops are Rattled

8. The Meeting

9. Under Questioning

10. The Fat Lady Sings

11. The Godfather, Part I

12. Hardball

13. The Godfather, Part II

14. Closure

15. Photo Gallery

16. Bibliography

17. The Author

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Kids Who Kill, Part 1
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Columbine Massacre

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