Iowa school shooting: 1 dead, 5 injured, young shooter commits suicide, police say

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PERRY, Iowa (AP) — Teen armed with shotgun and unleashed pistol Terror at an Iowa high school on the first day of school of the new year, authorities said, killing a sixth-grade student and wounding five others as people barricaded themselves in classrooms, barricaded offices and fled the barrage of bullets.

The suspect, a 17-year-old student at Perry School, died from what investigators believe was a self-inflicted gunshot wound, an Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation official said. An administrator, later identified by his soul mater as Perry High School Principal Dan Marburger was among five injured Thursday as students returned from winter break.

Authorities identified the shooter as Dylan Butler, 17, but did not provide information about a possible motive. Two friends and his mother who spoke to The Associated Press said Butler was a quiet person who had been bullied for years.

Authorities said Butler had a pump-action shotgun and a small caliber handgun. Mitch Mortvedt, deputy director of the state investigation division, said during a news conference that authorities also found a “pretty rudimentary” improvised explosive device and took it to safety.

The suspect’s motive is under investigation and authorities are investigating “several social media posts” he made around the time of the shooting, Mortvedt added.

A law enforcement official briefed on the investigation said federal and state investigators were interviewing Butler’s friends and analyzing Butler’s social media profiles, including posts on TikTok and Reddit.

Shortly before Thursday’s shooting, Butler posted a photo on TikTok inside the bathroom at Perry High School, the official said. The photo had the title “now we wait” and was accompanied by the song “Stray Bullet” by the German band KMFDM. Investigators also found other photos Butler posted posing with firearms, according to the official, who was not authorized to publicly discuss details of the investigation and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

Sisters Yesenia Roeder and Khamya Hall, both 17, said along with their mother, Alita, that Butler was bullied relentlessly since elementary school, but that the situation escalated recently when his younger sister began being bullied as well. His parents brought him to school, they said, and that was the “last straw” for Butler.

“I was suffering. She got tired. He got tired of the harassment. She got tired of the bullying,” said 17-year-old Yesenia Roeder Hall. “Was it a good idea to shoot up the school? No. God, no.”

Calls to Perry Community Schools Superintendent Clark Wicks, as well as school board members, went unanswered Thursday, and an emailed request for comment was not immediately returned.

Police arrived minutes after an active shooter was reported at 7:37 a.m. Thursday, authorities said.

Dallas County (Iowa) Sheriff Adam Infante speaks outside Perry High School in Perry, Iowa, Thursday, Jan. 4, 2024, following a shooting at the city's high school.  (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Dallas County (Iowa) Sheriff Adam Infante speaks outside Perry High School in Perry, Iowa, Thursday, Jan. 4, 2024, following a shooting at the city’s high school. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks during a news conference following a shooting at Perry High School, Thursday, Jan. 4, 2024, in Perry, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds speaks during a news conference following a shooting at Perry High School, Thursday, Jan. 4, 2024, in Perry, Iowa. (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Perry High School senior Ava Augustus was waiting for a counselor in the school office when she heard three gunshots. Unable to escape through a small window, she and others blocked the door and were ready to throw things if necessary.

“And then we heard ‘It’s down.’ You can come out,’” Augustus said through tears. ”And I run and you can see glass everywhere, blood on the ground. “I get to my car and they are taking a girl who had been shot in the leg out of the auditorium.”

Three gunshot victims were treated at Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines, a spokesperson said. Others were taken to a second hospital, a spokesperson for MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center confirmed.

Mortvedt said one person was in critical condition but the injuries did not appear to be life-threatening and the others were stable.

Hundreds of people gathered for a candlelight prayer vigil Thursday night in a park where students had been taken hours earlier to reunite with their families after the shooting. Shielded against frigid temperatures, they listened to pastors of many faiths and heard a message of hope in both English and Spanish.

A post on the high school’s Facebook page said it would be closed Friday and that counseling services would be available to students, teachers and others in the community.

“This senseless tragedy has shaken our entire state to its core,” said Governor Kim Reynolds.

In Washington, President Joe Biden and US Attorney General Merrick Garland were briefed on the shooting.

Mass shootings in the United States have long sparked calls for stricter rules. gun laws of gun safety advocates, and Thursday’s did so in a matter of hours. But the idea hasn’t been viable for many Republicans, particularly in rural, Republican-leaning states like Iowa, which will hold its first caucus in the country. presidential assemblies January 15.

As of July 2021, Iowa does not require permission buy a gun or carry a firearm in public, although it requires a background check for anyone who buys a gun without a permit.

Perry has about 8,000 residents and is about 40 miles (65 kilometers) northwest of Des Moines, on the edge of the state capital metropolitan area. It is home to a large pork processing plant and low, single-story houses dotted among trees that have now lost their leaves for winter. The high school and high school are connected and are located on the east end of the city.

The high school is part of the 1,785-student Perry Community School District. Perry is more diverse than Iowa as a whole. Census figures show that 31% of its residents are Hispanic, compared to less than 7% statewide. Those figures also show that nearly 19% of the city’s residents were born outside the US.

Zander Shelley, 15, was in a hallway when he heard gunshots and ran into a classroom, according to his father, Kevin Shelley. Zander was grazed twice and hid in the classroom before texting his father.

Kevin Shelley, who drives a garbage truck, told his boss he had to flee. “It was the biggest scare I’ve ever had in my entire life,” he said.

She later posted a photo on Facebook of her son being treated at Methodist Medical Center and said the boy was feeling fine.

“I’m still shaking,” he added, “and although I don’t show it, I’m not okay.”


Fingerhut reported from Sioux City, Iowa. Associated Press writer Scott McFetridge and photojournalist Andrew Harnik contributed to this report from Perry, Iowa; Jim Salter contributed from O’Fallon, Missouri; Josh Funk contributed from Omaha, Nebraska. Trisha Ahmed of Minneapolis; Lindsay Whitehurst of Washington; Mike Balsamo of New York City; and John Hanna of Topeka, Kansas. AP researcher Rhonda Shafner contributed from New York City.

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