Cassie Rene' Bernall was the 6th student killed in the Columbine High School massacre at the age of 17.
Cassie was born to Misty and Brad Bernall on November 6, 1981. Along with her brother Chris, she was brought up in a Christian home. According to her parents, Cassie rebelled as a young teenager and began using drugs and alcohol. Her parents state that at one point Cassie became suicidal. Her mother found letters in Cassie's bedroom discussing her thoughts of killing her parents, and they decided to send her to a new school, Columbine High School, for a new start. A year and a half before her death, Cassie decided to go on a weekend church retreat and restored her faith. Cassie's father Brad said "When she came back from that retreat, she was an entirely different person. We had gotten our daughter back."
Massacre At Columbine High School
Just after shooting and killing Steve Curnow and injuring Kacey Ruegsegger, Eric Harris came around the table where Cassie and another girl were hiding. He slapped the top of the table twice with his left hand and said to the two frightened girls: "Peek-a-boo!". He then bent down, pointed his sawed-off shotgun under the table and fired once, shooting Cassie in the right side of the head. She died immediately.
Still, according to witness statements and the Columbine Report, here's what happened to Cassie: When the shooters entered the library she, like many other students, was hiding under the table she'd been sitting at when substitute teacher Patti Nielson entered the library and told everyone to get down. She had her hands over her face, perhaps to keep from seeing what was happening as she could hear other people being shot and killed in the library, near to where she was hiding.
- Craig Scott, a student who was also in the library during the massacre, told investigators that he had heard one of the shooters ask a victim whether or not they believed in God during the shooting, and the victim answer "Yes." Scott said that he recognized the voice as Cassie's, however he did not see the exchange happen as he was hiding under the table at the time. Investigators later took Scott back into the library and asked him to point to where he had heard the exchange come from. He did not point to where Cassie had been in the library, but rather pointed to where Valeen Schnurr, another student that had been shot in the massacre, had been hiding.
- Some media publicized the story of Bernall being asked about her belief in God before her death. The story persisted even decades later. In 2015, Rick Santorum used the scenario during a Republican presidential debate, saying "16 years ago this country was tremendously inspired by a young woman who faced a gunman in Columbine and was challenged about her faith, and refused to deny God"
- Her family wasn't informed of her death until two days after the massacre.
- Bernall's presentation as a Christian martyr has led to her serving as the inspiration for several songs, including Flyleaf's "Cassie"[ and Michael W. Smith's "This Is Your Time". The video for "This Is Your Time" includes a short clip at its beginning of Bernall talking about her beliefs.