The gunman who took six girls hostage Wednesday at Platte Canyon High School in Bailey, Colo. “terrorized our community,” Park County Sheriff Fred Wegener said Thursday.
Wegener identified the gunman as Duane Morrison, 54.
Morrison shot Emily Keyes, 16, as SWAT team members stormed the classroom in which he was holed up, and then turned his gun on himself. Keyes later died.
Wegener said Thursday Morrison does not appear to have had any connection to the mountain community west of Denver and was evidently living out of his vehicle.
The motive remains a mystery, he said.
Morrison took the six female students hostage around noon Wednesday in a classroom at the high school.
One student who came face-to-face with Morrison described him as “an old guy who came on a mission.”
Cassidy Grigg said the gunman lined students up against the chalkboard in an English class and told them one-by-one to either leave, or stay.
Authorities were able to evacuate the students and staff of the high school and an adjoining middle school safely.
Morrison talked directly to police negotiators initially, but later communicated only through his hostages, whom he traumatized and assaulted, Wegener said.
Morrison eventually released four of his hostages one-by-one, Wegener said, and then broke off negotiations after talking “about 4 o’clock and something would happen at 4.”
Wegener said he decided to send a SWAT team in to try to save the two remaining hostages rather than wait to see what Morrison planned to do.
“This is something that has changed my school, changed my community,” Wegener said. “My small county’s gone.”
Both the high school and the middle school are closed for the remainder of the week.
A church was designated as a gathering place for students, families and school staff members.
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