Perry, Iowa, witnessed a tragic incident on Thursday as multiple individuals were shot at the city’s high school, marking a devastating start to students’ return to classes after the winter break. The shooting unfolded before the scheduled commencement of the school day, with few students and faculty present at Perry High School.
Two victims, both suffering from gunshot wounds, were rushed to Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines, approximately 40 miles southeast of Perry. Dallas County Sheriff Adam Infante stated that the suspected shooter, believed to be the cause of the violence, succumbed to a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The law enforcement official providing this information spoke to The Associated Press anonymously due to the sensitivity of the ongoing investigation.
The shooting, which transpired against the backdrop of the Iowa caucuses, occurred shortly after Republican presidential candidates were campaigning in the vicinity. Reports of an active shooter surfaced at 7:37 a.m., prompting law enforcement response within seven minutes.
During a press conference, Sheriff Infante revealed that officers discovered multiple individuals with injuries, though the exact number and their conditions remained unconfirmed. UnityPoint Health, the operator of the Des Moines hospital, confirmed the admission of two gunshot victims.
The high school, shared with the town’s middle school, was surrounded by numerous emergency vehicles, emphasizing the severity of the situation. Witnesses recounted moments of chaos and fear, with students fleeing classrooms upon hearing gunshots.
Zander Shelley, a 15-year-old student, managed to escape harm by seeking refuge in a classroom. His father, Kevin Shelley, described the harrowing experience, emphasizing the intense fear he felt upon receiving his son’s distressing text messages.
Rachael Kares, an 18-year-old senior, shared her account of hearing four spaced gunshots during jazz band practice, prompting a swift evacuation. Many students, including Kares, ran out past the football field amid shouts urging them to leave the premises.
The FBI, alongside local law enforcement, was involved in the investigation led by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation. As information trickled in, the community grappled with uncertainty, with some parents still searching for their children.
Perry’s mayor, Dirk Cavanaugh, emphasized the lack of confirmed numbers regarding those involved in the incident. Distraught parents, anxious for their children’s safety, awaited updates as law enforcement worked to gather accurate information.
The Perry Community School District, encompassing 1,785 students, serves as the backdrop for this tragic event. Perry’s diverse population, with 31% Hispanic residents, adds complexity to the community’s response. As authorities continue their investigation, the town of Perry mourns the impact of this senseless act of violence on its educational institution.