Amidst the dawn of a new year, tragedy struck Perry, Iowa, as a gunman unleashed chaos at Perry High School, claiming the life of a sixth-grade student and leaving five others wounded. The assailant, identified as Dylan Butler, a 17-year-old student at the institution, ultimately took his own life with a self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to Mitch Mortvedt, assistant director of the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.
The incident, which occurred as students returned from their winter break, shook the community to its core. Four of the injured victims were students, with one administrator also among those harmed. The administrator, identified as Dan Marburger, Perry High School’s principal, sustained injuries in the attack. However, the names of the other victims were not disclosed.
Community Grieves as Perry High School Shooting Unfolds in Small Iowa Town:
Residents of Perry, a close-knit town nestled northwest of Des Moines with a population of 8,000, grappled with shock and despair as the tragic events unfolded. Parents raced to the scene, local businesses shuttered their doors prematurely, and the community united for candlelight vigils, seeking solace in shared grief.
At a gathering in a local park, emotions ran high as residents offered prayers and shared harrowing accounts of the day’s events. A Perry high school student recounted mistaking the gunshots for festive balloon pops, while another mourned the loss of the young student, describing him as “an amazing little boy, and he was the sweetest.”
Among those affected, Laura Espinoza, an educator at Perry Elementary School, remembered Mr. Marburger as approachable and compassionate, defying the stereotype of a stern principal. She highlighted his friendly demeanor, emphasizing his willingness to engage with students on a personal level, not merely as an authoritative figure.
The tragedy unfolded against the backdrop of the Iowa caucuses, with Republican presidential candidates campaigning nearby. Law enforcement officials, responding swiftly to reports of an active shooter at 7:37 a.m., arrived promptly at the scene within seven minutes. Emergency vehicles flooded the vicinity housing both the middle and high schools.
Zander Shelley, a 15-year-old student of Perry High School, narrowly escaped harm by seeking refuge in a classroom when gunshots echoed through the halls. His father, Kevin Shelley, revealed Zander’s terrifying experience of being grazed by bullets and hiding until he could alert his father at 7:36 a.m.
Authorities, including FBI agents from the Omaha-Des Moines office, were deeply involved in the investigation conducted by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation. UnityPoint Health, overseeing the Des Moines hospital, confirmed receiving two gunshot victims for treatment amid the distressing aftermath of the incident.
This heart-wrenching episode underscored the devastating toll of such acts of violence, leaving a profound impact on the tight-knit community of Perry and prompting a collective call for unity, compassion, and healing in the wake of unfathomable loss.