Deadly Influence: The Social Media Murders - What is the Columbine Effect?

What is the Columbine effect? (Image via Unsplash)

The Sesler family murders, which took place in 2012, were a perverse outcome of the Columbine effect. The investigations into the triple homicide revealed that the 22-year-old YouTuber, Trey Sesler, had plotted a mass murder at his former high school, Waller High School. The plan was possible owing to the widespread influence of the Columbine High School mass murder, also known as the Columbine Effect.

Trey drew inspiration from the 1999 Columbine High School and carried the same weapon as Eric Harris back in the day: a Hi-Point model 995 carbine rifle. He allegedly intended to be one of the biggest mass murderers in history, as he aimed to kill 70 people in a pep rally.

The new episode of Deadly Influence: The Social Media Murders, titled Killer Content, showcases a consequence of the Columbine Effect as it airs on June 24, 2024, at 9 p.m. EST on Investigation Discovery. The official synopsis reads,

"Successful teenage film reviewer Trey is building an online empire on YouTube, attracting hundreds of thousands of views. But it can't last, and soon, he finds himself dragged into a shocking world of guns, abuse and revenge."

What happened at the 1999 Columbine High School massacre?

On April 20, 1999, Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, became the site of a horrific act of gun violence and mass murder. Two high school seniors from Columbine High School, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold, had planned the attack for over a year with a detailed map of the place.

The pair had initially planned to detonate homemade bombs in the cafeteria during the lunch hour. According to the Denver Post, Harris and Klebold carried 95 explosive devices, which included 48 crickets or carbon dioxide bombs, 11 propane container bombs, 27 pipe bombs, two duffle bag bombs containing over 20 pounds of liquefied petroleum gas tanks, Molotov cocktails, and over 40 gallons of flammable liquid.

The 18-year-old Harris and the 17-year-old Klebold had a secondary plan to conduct a shooting besides the bombing. Thus, Harris carried a Hi-Point 995 carbine and a Savage-Springfield 67H pump with enough ammunition, while Klebold carried a 9mm Intratec TEC-DC9 semi-automatic handgun and a Stevens 311D double-barreled shotgun. The pair also carried knives with them.

Armed with an arsenal of weapons, Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold planted the bombs in the cafeteria and the parking lot. As the bombs failed to detonate due to poor construction, the pair resorted to their firearms and began a harrowing attack, which lasted for 49 minutes in total.

Harris and Kelbold took the lives of a teacher and 12 students before they took their own lives in the library by shooting themselves in the head, per the Denver Post. The mass shooting at Columbine High School was the first and most significant school shooting ever to take place in American history.

What is the Columbine Effect?

The focus of the new Deadly Influence episode showcases Trey Sesler's plan to conduct a school shooting at Waller High School. The long-lasting impact of the 1999 massacre was the root cause of many copycat killings, which became known as the Columbine Effect.

Trey Sesler committed the triple homicide of his parents and his elder brother, Rhonda, Lawton, and Mark Sesler, before he moved forward with his plan. However, he refused to move ahead and left for a friend's place instead, per Texas Monthly.

Per Chron, the investigators combed through Trey's computer and internet records to find that serial killers heavily influenced him, besides the Columbine Effect. Not only did he grade the killings of at least eight serial killers, but he also heavily researched mass killings at Columbine High School and Virginia Tech.

Trey Eric Sesler was sentenced to life in prison without parole for the Sesley family murders.

Catch all the details of the result of the Columbine Effect as the fourth episode of Deadly Influence: The Social Media Murders airs on ID on Monday.

Edited by Somava
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