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DENVER -- Major U.S. retailers pulled from their Colorado stores a tabloid newspaper that came out Friday featuring graphic death-scene photos of the students who staged the 1999 Columbine school shooting, a move that the publication equated with censorship.
King Soopers and City Markets, the Colorado banners of Kroger Co., which also operates approximately 1,000 convenience stores, stopped distribution of the June 4 issue of the National Enquirer. The issue features a cover story with the headlines "Columbine Killers," "Photos of their death," and "How the two high school gunmen really died," according to Reuters.
Dallas-based 7-Eleven Inc., which operates more than 5,800 stores in North America, including 240 in Colorado, followed the supermarkets' move, "out of respect for people in Colorado," said Margaret Chabris, a spokeswoman for 7-Eleven.
Supermarket chain Safeway Inc. also banned the issue, which went on sale nationwide Friday, from its 120 Colorado stores. "There's censorship and then there's incredibly poor taste and insensitivity on the part of the publisher. That was the rationale for the decision," said Safeway spokesman Brian Dowling.
Two photos inside the magazine depict shooters Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold on the floor, both bleeding from visible gunshot wounds to the head. The cover story concludes from the photos that the teenagers did not commit double suicide, as widely reported, but that Harris shot Klebold.
"We were all deeply wounded by this horrific loss of life and do not believe it serves the public to offer this issue in our stores," said Brian Murty, vice president of Albertson's Inc.'s Rocky Mountain division, in a written statement.
Boise, Idaho-based Albertson's, the number-two U.S. supermarket operator, decided not to sell the issue last week in response to "a significant amount of calls" from concerned customers who had already heard about the forthcoming photos, Murty told Reuters.
Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has authorized its store managers nationwide to pull the issue if there are complaints in their communities.