PERRY, Iowa (Associated Press) — Multiple people were injured in a shooting inside a small-town Iowa high school early Thursday, as students preparing for their first classes after winter break were forced to duck into classrooms, barricade themselves in offices or run for an exit, before the suspected shooter was found dead.
Authorities in Perry, Iowa, did not say how many people were shot, but hospitals confirmed receiving at least three patients.
The suspect died of what investigators believe is a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and at least one of the victims is a school administrator, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press. The official was not authorized to publicly discuss details of the investigation and spoke to The AP on condition of anonymity.
Perry has about 8,000 residents and is about 40 miles (64 kilometers) northwest of Des Moines, on the edge of the state capital’s metropolitan area. It is home to a large pork-processing plant, and low-slung, single story homes spread among trees now shorn of their leaves by winter. The high school and middle school are connected, sitting on the east edge of town.
High school senior Ava Augustus said she was in a counselor’s office, waiting for hers to arrive, when she heard three shots. She and other people barricaded the door, preparing to throw things if necessary, with a window being too small for an escape.
“And then we hear ‘He’s down. You can go out,’” Augustus said through tears. ”And I run and you can just see glass everywhere, blood on the floor. I get to my car and they’re taking a girl out of the auditorium who had been shot in her leg.”
Three gunshot victims were taken by ambulance to Iowa Methodist Medical Center in Des Moines, a spokesperson for its health system said. Some other patients were transported to a second hospital in Des Moines, a spokesperson for MercyOne Des Moines Medical Center confirmed, declining to comment on the number of patients or their statuses.
In Washington, U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland was briefed on the shooting. FBI agents from the Omaha-Des Moines office are assisting with the investigation led by the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation.