PERRY, Iowa (AP) - A day after a shooting sent bullets flying inside a small-town Iowa high school, leaving a sixth grader dead and five others wounded, the community of Perry is somber. Yellow crime tape still lined the campus that Perry High School shares with the town’s middle school on the east edge of town, flowers and stuffed toys had cropped up in mini memorials, and classes across the district were canceled Friday in favor of counseling.
On Thursday, a 17-year-old student at the school opened fire at the school just after 7:30 a.m., forcing people to hunker down in classrooms and offices shortly before classes were set to begin on the first day back after winter break.
The suspect died of what investigators believe was a self-inflicted gunshot wound, an Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation official said. An administrator, later identified by his alma mater as Perry High School Principal Dan Marburger, was among those wounded.
In a Facebook post later that day, Marburger’s daughter said he was in "surgery all day, and is currently stable."
Claire Marburger called her father a "gentle giant" who would want more attention on the other victims and their families, and less on himself.
Authorities identified the shooter as Dylan Butler but provided no information about a possible motive. Two friends and their mother who spoke with The Associated Press said Butler was a quiet person who had been bullied for years.
Authorities said Butler had a pump-action shotgun and a small-caliber handgun. Mitch Mortvedt, the state investigation division’s assistant director, said during a news conference that authorities also found a "pretty rudimentary" improvised explosive device and rendered it safe.
A law enforcement official briefed on the investigation said federal and state investigators were interviewing Butler’s friends and analyzing Butler’s social media profiles, including posts on TikTok and Reddit.
Shortly before Thursday’s shooting, Butler posted a photo on TikTok inside the bathroom of Perry High School, the official 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, according to the official, who was not authorized to publicly discuss details of the investigation and spoke to AP on condition of anonymity.
Sisters Yesenia Roeder and Khamya Hall, both 17, said alongside their mother, Alita, that Butler was bullied relentlessly since elementary school, but it escalated recently when his younger sister started getting picked on, too.
"He was hurting. He got tired. He got tired of the bullying. He got tired of the harassment," Yesenia Roeder Hall said. "Was it a smart idea to shoot up the school? No. God, no."
Calls to Perry Community Schools’ Superintendent Clark Wicks, as well as school board members, were unanswered Thursday, and an emailed request for comment was not immediately returned.
Police arrived within minutes after an active shooter was reported at 7:37 a.m. Thursday, authorities said.