The gunman who opened fire at an Iowa high school, killing a sixth-grader and injuring five others including the principal, before turning the gun on himself on Thursday, has been identified as 17-year-old Dylan Butler, who was a senior at the school, police said. Butler was a senior at Perry High School, while the sixth-grader was from Perry's Middle School.
Butler reportedly faced years of relentless bullying, with the situation intensifying recently as it targeted his sister in the leadup to the violent rampage, according to members of the community. Butler was armed with a pump-action shotgun and a handgun, which are illegal for a 17-year-old to obtain in Iowa.
On a Killing Spree
Butler had plans to kill many more, as evidenced by the discovery of his body along with the undetonated improvised explosive device, described by law enforcement as "fairly basic." The device was subsequently rendered safe by fire marshals.
The 17-year-old died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound before first responders reached the school, shortly after 7:40 a.m. The incident prompted the evacuation of 1,785 students on their first day back to classes after the winter break.
The teenager is believed to have carried out the act independently. Authorities have not yet revealed a potential motive behind the incident.
A family that knew Butler described him as a reserved person who had suffered bullying since elementary school.
Yesenia Roeder and Khamya Hall, both 17, along with their mother, Alita, shared with the Associated Press that Butler reached a breaking point when his younger sister became a target of bullying as well.
The family mentioned that school officials never intervened, a situation they considered to be "the last straw" for Butler.
"He was hurting. He got tired. He got tired of the bullying. He got tired of the harassment," Yesenia said.
"Was it a smart idea to shoot up the school? No. God, no."
On the verge of tears, Khamya described Butler as "the kindest person ever" before heartbreakingly suggesting that she and her friends could have played a role in the tragic incident.
"He was there for us when we needed him, and we tried to be there when he needed us, which clearly we weren't there for him enough," she said.
Posted Cryptic Video Before Rampage
Butler posted a cryptic video on his since-deleted social media in the moments leading up to the harrowing rampage on the small-town campus, which housed both a middle school and high school 40 miles northwest of Des Moines.
In the TikTok video, Butler was seen posing in a school bathroom stall with a blue duffle bag at his feet, accompanied by the caption: "now we wait."
The video was overlaid with the song "Stray Bullet" by the rock group KMFDM, which includes lyrics such as "I'm your nightmare coming true, I am your worst enemy," and "Stray bullet, from the barrel of love."
The song "Stray Bullet" by KMFDM was infamously used on the personal website of Eric Harris, one of the perpetrators of the Columbine High School massacre in 1999.
Other videos from the same account, shared on Reddit, show Butler imitating characters such as The Cook from "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and Jeffrey Dahmer, replicating popular mannerisms and lines from the respective shows.
In one clip, he points a stick at a friend as if it were a gun, and in several others, he references being a "stoner."
Investigators have also discovered other photos posted by Butler featuring him posing with firearms, according to insiders who spoke to the Associated Press.
However, it remains unclear whether the firearms used in the rampage belonged to Butler.
As of July 2021, Iowa does not mandate a permit to purchase a handgun or carry a firearm in public, but it does require a background check for individuals purchasing a handgun without a permit.
While the police did not reveal the identities of Butler's six victims, the Easton Valley Community School District confirmed that Dan Marburger, who had been the school's principal since 1995, was one of the survivors.
"Our hearts break to hear of this kind of violence that affects so many people, including many in our community. Our thoughts will also be with the entire Perry community as they grieve through this traumatic event. We will follow up with any updates once we receive more information," the district said in a statement.
The attack came on the first day back to class after winter break. However, Butler opened fire before the opening bell when there were "very few students and faculty" present in the building, Dallas County Sheriff Adam Infante said during a press conference following the shooting.