Gunman Identified In Colorado Shooting - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

9/28/06

Gunman Identified In Colorado Shooting

Park County Sheriff Fred Wegener, left, hangs his head during a news conference in Bailey, Colorado, Wednesday Park County Sheriff Fred Wegener, left, hangs his head during a news conference in Bailey, Colorado, Wednesday
The injured female hostage is carried from an ambulance to a medical helicopter. She was later pronounced dead. The injured female hostage is carried from an ambulance to a medical helicopter. She was later pronounced dead.
A Platte Canyon High School student is reunited with her family Wednesday shortly after the school was evacuated. A Platte Canyon High School student is reunited with her family Wednesday shortly after the school was evacuated.

A gunman who killed a student hostage and then himself during a high school standoff was 54-year-old Dwayne Morrison, police said Thursday.

Park County, Colorado, Sheriff Fred Wegener said Morrison "traumatized and assaulted" his hostages and the assault "was of a sexual nature."

When his body was removed, Wegener said, authorities found a semi-automatic pistol and a revolver.

A witness to Wednesday's standoff said the gunman wanted to take only girls hostage.

Cassidy Grigg, 16, told NBC's "Today" that the gunman first forced the male students to leave the classroom when he took a class hostage Wednesday afternoon at Platte Canyon High School, in Bailey, southwest of Denver.

Grigg said the gunman fired a warning shot while entering the classroom and told students to line up facing the chalkboard.

"He was going from right to left and he tapped me on the shoulder and he told me to leave the room," Grigg told "Today."

"I couldn't turn around and I told him, you know, I said, 'I don't want to leave,'" said the young man.

"It was apparent to me that he wanted the females in the class. He turned me around and he pointed the gun in my face and told me that it would be a good idea if I just left," Grigg said.

As he left the classroom, Grigg said, another female student was just coming in the door. He pushed her out of the doorway and they left the building together, he said.

Grigg said his initial reaction was to stay in the room with the female students.

"I wanted the girls to have some support in the room," he said.

The gunman held as many as six girls hostage and had released four before police stormed the classroom. The gunman fatally shot 16-year-old Emily Keyes, whom Grigg said he knew as a friend.

"Emily was one of my first friends," Grigg said. "She was always sweet, she always welcomed people. She was just friendly, she was a good person in general."

Authorities still have not publicly identified the gunman, but the Park County Sheriff's office is expected to hold a news conference on Thursday morning to release more details, a sheriff's dispatcher said.

Grigg said no one recognized the man, who he said was trying to look like a student by carrying a backpack and wearing a hooded sweatshirt.

"He was just an old guy that came on a mission and I think he got what he wanted," he said.

Sheriff: 'Scared to death'

Park County, Colorado, Sheriff Fred Wegener said he was "scared to death" as he was deciding whether to order police to storm the classroom.

"Nobody wants anything to happen like this at their school," said Wegener. He said his own son was in the building. Asked whether he was second-guessing his decision, Wegener said, "I have to go and eventually I have to face a family about the fact their daughter is dead. So what would you do?"

When police arrived, the gunman told them he had a bomb in his backpack, Wegener said, but after it was over, he said, "It looks like there was nothing in the backpack."

The gunman released four of the girls, one at a time, as he talked with the police directly through the classroom door and later through the hostages, police said.

The gunman made threats that "something will happen" at 4 p.m. and his behavior became "more and more agitated," Wegener said. The suspect was shielding himself with one of the hostages.

He cut off communication with authorities about 3:30 p.m.

"It was then decided that a tactical solution needed to be done in an effort to save the two hostages that were in the room," Wegener said. "Entry was made. The suspect shot one of the hostages and then shot [and killed] himself -- that's what it looks like at this time."

Authorities blew open the door with explosives, according to a sheriff's statement. "The gunman fired a handgun at entering SWAT officers, and then at Keyes. The gunman then shot himself. During the gunfire, tactical teams pulled the additional hostage from the room and she fled the building on foot."

Asked what the deadline was for, Wegener said he was not sure.

"I don't know why he wanted to do this," Wegener said, adding that he was "still somewhat shocked that this could happen in a rural county."

Investigators were attempting to determine, among other things, how the gunman entered the building, Wegener said.

During the standoff, U.S. Highway 285 in front of the high school and adjacent Fitzsimmons Middle School were shut down in both directions. Students at both schools were evacuated and taken to a nearby elementary school.

Officials said about 450 students are enrolled at Platte Canyon and 340 at Fitzsimmons.

School Superintendent Jim Walpole said classes at both schools will be canceled Thursday and Friday, as the buildings remain sealed as a crime scene. Crisis counselors were available for students and parents, he said.

Bailey is about 40 miles southwest of Denver.

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