PERRY — Authorities say a sixth-grade student is dead and five others were wounded after a 17-year-old high school student opened fire at the high school in Perry in central Iowa on Thursday morning.
The suspect, identified as Dylan Butler, is dead after a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation assistant director Mitch Mortvedt says authorities were called to the school shortly after 7:30. “At 7:37 AM on January 4th, 2024, the Perry Police Department responded to an active shooter event at Perry High School. Meanwhile, Dallas County communications was also receiving multiple 9-1-1 calls of an active shooter at the high school. Perry police officers responded within minutes. They immediately made entry and witnessed students and faculty either sheltering in place or running from the school. Once inside, they located multiple individuals with gunshot wounds. Officers immediately attempted to locate the source of the threat and quickly found what appeared to be the shooter with a self-inflicted gunshot wound.”
Mortvedt says Butler had a pump action shotgun and a small caliber handgun, but a search of the school also turned up an explosive device. “As additional officers responded, a systematic search of the school took place. Officers located during the search of the school an improvised explosive device. The State Fire Marshal and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms rendered the device safe.”
Mortvedt says authorities are also looking into social media posts that Butler made. “Butler also made a number of social media posts in and around the time of the shooting. Law enforcement is working to secure those pieces of evidence. All evidence thus far suggests that Butler acted alone.”
Mortvedt says the injured include an unnamed school administrator. “There are six victims, one of them who is deceased. That individual was a sixth-grade student at Perry Middle School. The other five are being treated at area hospitals. Four of the surviving victims are students and the fifth is a school administrator.”
Mortvedt says over 150 local and state law enforcement officers responded to the scene within an hour. He says the investigation is ongoing.
Perry Police Chief Eric Vaughn was emotional as he praised teachers, staff and students for “acting bravely and heroically” on Thursday. “All of our condolences to the victims and their families,” Vaughn said, pausing before continuing to read from his statement. “They need your thoughts and prayers as well as time and space to process and to grieve.”
Governor Kim Reynolds opened Thursday afternoon’s news conference with a message to the Perry community. “This strikes at the heart of everything that we hold dear. This senseless tragedy has shaken our entire state to the core and I want this community to know that every Iowan stands with you,” Reynolds said. “It’s impossible to understand why anything like this happens, but I want you to know we will work tirelessly to get the answers so that we can prevent it from happening again.”
Reynolds has ordered all flags in the state to be lowered to half-staff until sunset on Sunday in support of the students, families, teachers and staff of Perry schools and the Perry community.
(This story updated at 5:00 AM Friday January 5th)