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High school in Perry, Iowa, sees multiple individuals injured by gunfire, suspected shooter no longer alive, report police

Authorities in Perry, Iowa, disclosed that several individuals were shot at the city’s high school on Thursday, as students began their first day back in classes following their annual winter break.

Two individuals sustained gunshot injuries and were transported by ambulance to Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines, about 40 miles (64 kilometers) southeast of Perry, a town with a population of about 8,000. Dallas County Sheriff Adam Infante mentioned that the shooting occurred before school was scheduled to commence, resulting in minimal presence of students and faculty at Perry High School.

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An anonymous law enforcement official informed The Associated Press that the suspected perpetrator had succumbed to an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. The official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, was not authorized to publicly disclose investigation details.

The shooting took place amidst the backdrop of the Iowa caucuses and in close proximity to the campaign activities of Republican presidential candidates.

According to Infante, an active shooter was reported at 7:37 a.m. Thursday morning, with officers arriving within seven minutes. During a press briefing, he stated that multiple individuals with injuries were located, but the exact count and their conditions could not be confirmed. A spokesperson for UnityPoint Health, which oversees the Des Moines hospital, confirmed the arrival of the two gunshot victims.

A large number of emergency vehicles encircled the building housing the town’s middle school and high school.

Zander Shelley, 15, was in a hallway waiting for the school day to commence when he heard gunshots. He swiftly sought shelter in a classroom, as recounted by his father, Kevin Shelley. Zander sustained minor injuries and took refuge in the classroom before texting his father at 7:36 a.m.

Kevin Shelley, a garbage truck driver, mentioned to his employer that he had to leave immediately. “It was the most frightened I have ever been in my life,” he shared.
Upon the conclusion of jazz band practice, 18-year-old senior Rachael Kares and her peers heard what she described as four separate gunshots.

“We were all startled,” stated Kares. “Our band teacher urged us to ‘Run!’ So we did.”

Kares, alongside numerous other schoolmates, fled past the football field, amidst the sounds of people instructing them to evacuate. She recalled hearing additional gunshots as she escaped, although the exact count was unknown to her. Her primary concern was reaching home to her 3-year-old son.

“At that moment, my only focus was getting out, as I had to ensure I reached home with my son,” she expressed.

FBI agents from the Omaha-Des Moines office were present at the scene, assisting in the investigation led by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.

“There are numerous speculative figures circulating,” remarked Perry’s mayor, Dirk Cavanaugh. “Currently, we lack confirmed details of the individuals involved.”

Erica Jolliff confirmed that her ninth-grade daughter was escorted from the school premises at 7:45 a.m. Distressed, Jolliff remained in search of her sixth-grade son, Amir, an hour later.

“I simply want reassurance that he is unharmed and safe,” Jolliff stated. “They are not providing me with any updates.”

18-year-old Jasmine Augustine arrived at the high school shortly after the incident unfolded on Thursday morning. She had been dropping off a friend at the high school and his brother, who attends the town’s elementary school nearly a mile (1.61 kilometers) away.

“While at Casey’s convenience store, I witnessed a speeding car. Initially, I presumed it was a regular traffic stop,” she recounted.

Augustine revealed that upon reaching the high school, she was informed about an active shooter, prompting a swift decision to vacate the area.
“Subsequently, a substantial number of law enforcement officials arrived,” stated Augustine, whose sister is a student at the high school but was not in close proximity to the incident. Jasmine and her father picked up her sister from the armory afterwards.

The high school is part of the 1,785-student Perry Community School District. The town of Perry exhibits greater diversity compared to the overall state of Iowa, with census data indicating that 31% of residents are of Hispanic origin, a sharp contrast to the state’s less than 7%. Those figures also indicate that nearly 19% of the town’s population was born outside the U.S.

The shooting took place amid the context of the Iowa caucuses and near the whereabouts of Republican candidates’ campaigning endeavors.

Phone messages left for the Perry School Board’s president and vice president, along with an email message for Superintendent Clark Wicks, had not been responded to at the time.

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