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A teenaged individual took the life of a sixth grader and injured five others in an Iowa school shooting, as per law enforcement


PERRY, Iowa (AP) — On the first day back to school after the winter break, a 17-year-old unleashed gunfire at a small-town Iowa high school, resulting in the tragic death of a sixth-grader and causing injuries to five others on Thursday. Amidst the chaos, students sought refuge in offices, sought shelter in classrooms, and fled in fear.

The perpetrator, a student at the Perry school, is reported to have died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to an official from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation. It was revealed that one of the wounded individuals was a school administrator, identified later as Perry High School Principal Dan Marburger by an eastern Iowa school district, where he had graduated from high school.

The assailant was identified as 17-year-old Dylan Butler, and no specific motive for the incident has been disclosed by authorities. Two friends and their mother, who spoke with The Associated Press, mentioned that Butler, a reserved individual, had been subjected to bullying for numerous years.

Perry is home to around 8,000 residents and is approximately 40 miles (65 kilometers) northwest of Des Moines, on the outskirts of the state capital’s metropolitan area. The town is characterized by a large pork-processing plant and single-story homes surrounded by wintry bare trees. Situated on the eastern edge of town, the high school and middle school are interconnected.

According to authorities, the perpetrator possessed a pump-action shotgun and a small-caliber handgun. Mitch Mortvedt, the assistant director of the state investigation division, mentioned during a press conference that authorities also discovered a “relatively basic” improvised explosive device and safely neutralized it.

The motive behind the assailant’s actions is under investigation, and authorities are examining “a number of posts on social media” that were made around the time of the shooting, added Mortvedt.

Jody Kurth, the stepmother of a student grazed by a bullet, shares details about the harrowing incident that unfolded on Thursday in Perry, Iowa. (Source: KCCI/CNN)

Sisters Yesenia Roeder and Khamya Hall, both 17, together with their mother, Alita, mentioned that Butler had been persistently bullied since elementary school, and the situation escalated when his younger sister also became a target. They stated that the school staff did not intervene, which they claimed was the breaking point for Butler.

“He was in pain. He reached a breaking point. He couldn’t take the bullying and harassment anymore,” shared Yesenia Roeder Hall, 17. “Was resorting to a school shooting a rational decision? No, absolutely not.”

Ava Augustus, a senior at Perry High School, recounted being in a school office, awaiting a counselor when she heard three gunshots. Unable to escape through a small window, she and others barricaded the door and prepared to defend themselves, if necessary.

“And then we heard ‘He’s down. You can come out,’” tearfully recounted Augustus. “As I ran, there was shattered glass everywhere, blood on the floor. When I reached my car, I witnessed a girl being carried out of the auditorium with a bullet wound in her leg.”

Three of the gunshot victims were receiving treatment at the Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines, as confirmed by a spokesperson. Other individuals were transported to a second Des Moines hospital, according to a spokesperson from MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center.

Mortvedt stated that one person was in critical condition, but the injuries did not appear to be life-threatening. The rest of the victims were reported to be in stable condition.

On Thursday evening, hundreds of community members congregated at a park for a candlelight prayer vigil. Earlier in the day, the park was the location where students were reunited with their families after the shooting. Amidst freezing temperatures, the attendees listened to religious leaders representing various faiths and were offered messages of hope in both English and Spanish.

Dallas County Sheriff Adam Infante confirmed multiple victims in a school shooting in Perry, Iowa, on Thursday. (Source: KCCI/CNN)

A post on the high school’s Facebook page announced that it would remain closed on Friday and that counseling support would be provided for students, faculty, and the wider community.

Gov. Kim Reynolds ordered all flags in Iowa to be lowered to half-staff.

“This senseless tragedy has deeply shaken our entire state,” expressed the governor.

In Washington, President Joe Biden and U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland were briefed on the shooting. FBI agents from the Omaha-Des Moines office are providing assistance in the investigation led by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.

The shooting took place against the backdrop of Iowa’s impending first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses. GOP candidate Vivek Ramaswamy had a campaign event scheduled in Perry at 9 a.m., which was approximately 1 1/2 miles (2.4 kilometers) from the school, but it was canceled to allow for a prayer and an intimate discussion with local residents.

Mass shootings across the U.S. have consistently prompted calls for more stringent firearm regulations from advocates for gun safety. Such calls emerged within hours of the incident on Thursday. However, this proposition has typically encountered resistance from many Republicans, particularly in rural, GOP-leaning states like Iowa.

As of July 2021, Iowa does not mandate a permit to purchase a handgun or carry a firearm in public, although it does require a background check for individuals purchasing handguns without a permit.

Ramaswamy suggested that the shooting demonstrated a “psychological ailment” prevalent in the country. In Des Moines, the rival GOP candidate and Florida Governor, Ron DeSantis, expressed that gun violence is “primarily a local and state matter” during an interview with the Des Moines Register and NBC News.

Perry High School is part of the 1,785-student Perry Community School District. The town has a higher level of diversity compared to the overall demographics of Iowa. Census data reveals that 31% of its residents are of Hispanic origin, a stark contrast to the state’s 7% Hispanic population. The data also indicates that nearly 19% of the town’s populace were born outside the U.S.

Law enforcement reports indicated that an active shooter was reported at 7:37 a.m. on Thursday, and officers responded within minutes. The complex was swiftly surrounded by emergency vehicles.

“The officers immediately sought to locate the source of the threat and promptly discovered an individual who appeared to be the assailant with a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” Mortvedt detailed.

Rachael Kares, an 18-year-old senior, recounted concluding a jazz band session when she and her peers heard what she described as four gunshots, spaced apart.

“We all startled,” shared Kares. “My band instructor looked at us and yelled, ‘Flee!’ So we ran.”

Kares, along with many others from the school, ran beyond the football field, with voices urging, “Evacuate! Get out!” She mentioned hearing additional gunshots as she fled, but was unable to discern the exact count. Her primary concern was reaching her 3-year-old son at home.

Fifteen-year-old Zander Shelley was in a corridor when he heard gunshots and swiftly sought refuge in a classroom, according to his father, Kevin Shelley. Zander sustained minor grazes from the gunfire, hid in the classroom, and sent a text to his father at 7:36 a.m.

Kevin Shelley, who works as a garbage truck driver, informed his superior that he needed to leave. “It was the most frightened I have ever been in my entire life,” he expressed.

He subsequently posted a photo on Facebook of his son receiving medical attention at the Methodist Medical Center, indicating that the boy was doing well. He added: “I am still trembling, and despite not showing it, I am not alright.”

___

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 from Minneapolis; Lindsay Whitehurst from Washington; Mike Balsamo from New York City; and John Hanna from Topeka, Kansas. AP researcher Rhonda Shafner contributed from New York City.



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