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NEW YORK - Several leading supermarket chains pulled from their Colorado stores a National Enquirer issue that came out on Friday featuring graphic photos of the students who staged the 1999 Columbine school shooting, Reuters reports.
King Soopers and City Markets, the Colorado banners of Kroger Co., stopped distribution of the June 4 issue of the National Enquirer, which features a cover story with the headlines "COLUMBINE KILLERS," "Photos of their death," and "How the two high school gunmen really died."
Safeway Inc. also banned the issue, which went on sale nationwide on 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.
"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.
Albertson's decided not to sell the issue earlier this week in response to "a significant amount of calls" from concerned customers who had already heard about the forthcoming photos, Murty told Reuters.
Wal-Mart Stores Inc. has authorized its store managers nationwide to pull the issue if there are complaints in their communities.
7-Eleven Inc. followed the supermarkets' move, "out of respect for people in Colorado," said Margaret Chabris, a spokeswoman for 7-Eleven, which has 240 stores in Colorado.
National Enquirer, published by Boca Raton, Florida-based American Media Inc., told Reuters it has the support of parents who were personally touched by the killings. Two parents whose sons were murdered at Columbine are quoted in the article, voicing support for the publication of the photos.
National Enquirer Editor-in-Chief David Perel argued that the photos serve as a deterrent to young people who might emulate Klebold and Harris.
Albertson's, which has 54 stores in Colorado, typically displays the National Enquirer at checkout stands in all its stores, but this is not the first time it has pulled tabloids from its shelves.
"When Columbine first happened, we, on a weekly basis, reviewed not only the National Enquirer, but their competitors, to look for sensitive issues that might upset the community," Murty said.
In the past, Albertson's tried to keep undisplayed issues in stock in case customers asked for them. But they often wound up on the selling floor in error, Murty said. To avoid that situation, he decided not to stock them at all this time.