John P. Stone, a former Jefferson County Sheriff who headed the office during the Columbine High School mass shooting, died Sunday morning while in hospice care in Eden Prairie, Minn. He was 73.
Elected sheriff in 1998, Stone served one term, which was defined by Columbine, including the sheriff’s office’s initial response to the high school scene, where responders waited to enter the building, as well as controversies involving the aftermath of the April 20, 1999, mass shooting in which two student gunmen killed 12 students, a teacher, and then themselves. Twenty-four people were physically injured in the shooting and countless people, near and far, were psychologically scarred.
In 2002, when Stone decided not to run for re-election, he told The Denver Post: “This was my dream job and it has turned into a nightmare.”
Current Sheriff Jeff Shrader, who served under Stone, recalled his former boss as a kind man who was committed to his family.
“John’s daughter called me this morning with the sad news. I worked with and for John when he was a county commissioner and then when he served one term as sheriff,” Shrader said. “In all the years I knew him, he was a kind and caring man who loved his family deeply. My sincerest condolences to his family and friends.”