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Iowa high school principal dies 10 days after shielding students from mass shooting

Dan Marburger, the principal at Perry High School, was injured in the 4 January that also claimed the life of a 11-year-old

Andrea Blanco
Sunday 14 January 2024 20:22 GMT
Community mourns deadly Iowa school shooting

An Iowa high school principal who “gave the ultimate sacrifice” as he protected his students during a mass shooting earlier this month has succumbed to injuries he sustained during the rampage.

Dan Marburger, the principal at Perry High School since 1995, died 10 days after the 4 January attack at the school that also left an 11-year-old child dead and six others injured. The shooter, a 17-year-old student, died by suicide after he indiscriminately opened fire in the cafeteria as students gathered for breakfast.

In the aftermath of the shooting, the Department of Public Safety said that Marburger had acted selflessly by shielding students and staff from the bullets.

Marburger’s family announced on Sunday that he had died from the serious injuries he sustained.

“Dan Marburger gave the ultimate sacrifice,” the description of a GoFundMe page read. “He fought hard and gave us 10 days that we will treasure forever.”

Governor Kim Reynolds has ordered all flags in Iowa to be lowered to half-staff on Sunday, and remain at half-staff until sunset on the day of Marburger’s funeral.

Dan Marburger, principal at Perry High School, has succumbed to injuries he sustained during a 4 January mass shooting at the school that also left an 11-year-old student dead (WHO13)

“Our entire state is devastated by the news of Dan Marburger’s death,” Gov Raynolds said in a statement. “Dan courageously put himself in harm’s way to protect his students, and ultimately gave his own life to save them. He will forever be remembered for his selfless and heroic actions. May he rest in peace.”

Marburger was described by family members as a loving father, grandfather and husband who had devoted nearly three decades of his life to thousands of students throughout his career.

“Being the principal at Perry High School since 1995, also means that Dan’s family includes those who have ever walked the halls of Perry High School,” the GoFundMe page, which has since raised more than $88,000 for Marburger’s family, read. “The love and admiration he has for any current and former students and staff characterize the pride that Dan has for his building.”

Sixth grader Ahmir Jolliff, the other fatal victim in the shooting, was remembered by loved ones as a joyful boy who loved soccer and singing.

“He was so well-loved and he loved everyone,” Ahmir’s mother, Erica Jolliff, told the AP last week. “He’s such an outgoing person.”

Students and supporters gather in the rotunda to protest gun violence during the opening day of the Iowa Legislature (Copyright 2024 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)
Community members gather in Wiese park for a candlelight vigil following the morning shooting at the Perry Middle School and High School complex on January 04, 2024 in Perry, Iowa. A 17-year-old student identified by authorities as Dylan Butler opened fire at the school on the first day back from the winter break, killing a student and wounding five others (Getty Images)

Four other students and two staff members were wounded before the shooter died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound

Authorities have identified the shooter in the 4 January attack as Dylan Butler. Although police have not officially provided a motive in the shooting, two friends of Butler and their mother told The Associated Press said Butler was a quiet person who had been bullied for years.

Butler had a pump-action shotgun and a small calibre handgun. Mitch Mortvedt, the state investigation division’s assistant director, said that authorities also found a “pretty rudimentary” improvised explosive device and rendered it safe.

Officials were looking into “a number of social media posts” he made around the time of the shooting, Mortvedt added.

Shortly before the shooting, Butler posted a photo on TikTok inside the bathroom of Perry High School, officials said. The photo was captioned “now we wait” and the song “Stray Bullet” by the German band KMFDM accompanied it. Investigators have also found other photos Butler posted posing with firearms.

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