PERRY, Iowa (FOX 9) - A 17-year-old boy killed a sixth grader and wounded five others in a shooting at Perry High School in Perry, Iowa, on students' first day back after the holiday break, authorities said.
When police responded to the school at 7:37 a.m., they found the shooter, 17-year-old Dylan Butler, a student at Perry High School, with a self-inflicted gunshot wound as well as an improvised explosive device in the school. At the same time, authorities located six people who had been shot, including a sixth-grade student who was killed.
Officials said Butler was armed with a pump-action shotgun and a handgun. He made a "number" of social media posts in and around the time of the shooting, authorities said at a Thursday afternoon press conference. They believe Butler acted alone.
Officials did note the incident happened before the school day began, so there were fewer people there than if school had started for the day.
"The community is safe," Dallas County Sheriff Adam Infante said during a Thursday morning press conference. "School didn’t start yet luckily, so there were very few students and faculty in the building."
Vigils have been planned in the community for Thursday evening. The school plans to be closed on Friday, with counseling services available this weekend at the public library.
Perry High School is part of the 1,785-student Perry Community School District. Perry is about 40 miles northwest of Des Moines. The shooting occurred in the backdrop of the Iowa caucuses and not far from where Republican candidates were campaigning.
Witnesses recount Perry High School shooting
Emergency crews respond to the Perry High School shooting in Perry, Iowa, on Jan. 4, 2024. (FOX)
High school senior Ava Augustus told The Associated Press she was in a counselor’s office, waiting for her counselor 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."
Zander Shelley, 15, was in a hallway waiting for the school day to start when he heard gunshots and dashed into a classroom, his father, Kevin Shelley, told The Associated Press. Zander was grazed twice and hid in the classroom before texting his father at 7:36 a.m.
Rachael Kares, an 18-year-old senior, was wrapping up jazz band practice when she and her bandmates heard what she described as four gunshots, spaced apart.
"We all just jumped," Kares told The Associated Press. "My band teacher looked at us and yelled, ‘Run!’ So we ran."
Kares and many others from the school ran out past the football field, as she heard people yelling, "Get out! Get out!" She said she heard additional shots as she ran, but didn’t know how many. She was more concerned about getting home to her 3-year-old son.
Reactions to the shooting at Perry High School
In a statement on social media, Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said, "Our hearts are broken by this senseless tragedy. Our prayers are with the students, teachers and families of the Perry Community. I have been in contact with law enforcement agencies and am continuing to monitor the situation. I will be joining their press conference today."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.