Twelve years after the massacre at Columbine High School, a pipe bomb and two propane tanks were found at a Littleton, Colo., mall on Wednesday. Is it just a coincidence or something more?
As with most tragedies, the anniversary of Columbine has a tendency to reveal insecurities that are embedded into the fibers of the community. It’s a day that will force you to recall exactly where you were standing when you realized something was terribly wrong. You remember, if just for one day or a few fleeting moments, how one event can forever alter lives.
(More on TIME.com: See the ‘school shooter’ video game that lets players reenact Columbine)
On Wednesday, the tightknit community of Jefferson County was effectively reminded of tragedy when a small fire broke out in a mall less than two miles away from Columbine. About 25 schools in the area were put on lockdown–just as they were on April 20, 1999–and the mall and its surrounding lots were evacuated. Later, as cops surveyed the scene, they came across two propane tanks, along with a makeshift pipe bomb — the same weapons that were part of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold’s arsenal. Thankfully, the devices didn’t detonate in either case.
As the FBI and local law officials seek a person of interest in the case at Southwest Plaza Mall, murmurs of whether or not this is a copycat crime — albeit, a less disastrous one — are echoing throughout the area. According to Denver’s Channel 9News, investigators are looking into the case to determine if there’s a connection, and are treating the event as an incidence of “domestic terrorism,” in which any suspects will receive federal charges.
(More on TIME.com: See evidence from the Columbine murders)
The mall, which is almost always full of students from neighboring schools, reopened on Thursday morning, with authorities releasing little information about the impending investigation. But for area residents, the threat was an unnecessary reminder of the day that changed everything, and will sit, unsettled, on top of the heavy burden of pain that has clouded the quiet suburban city for 12 years.