Gunman holding hostages in US high school in Bailey, Colorado killed

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Duane Morrison, 53, took several girls hostage Wednesday at Platte Canyon High School in Bailey, Colorado and later killed himself after police reportedly stormed the school.

"It is a hostage situation, an adult is holding the hostages, he claims to have explosives," said Lance Clem, a spokesman for the Colorado State Police Department.

At least two schools, Platte Canyon High School and Fitzsimmons Middle School were evacuated and the main highway between Bailey and Shawnee, Colorado, Highway 285, was closed to all traffic until further notice.

A SWAT team and the bomb squad were also deployed in the area. Six hostages were initially taken, but four were released. The remaining hostages were two girls who were being held hostage in a classroom located on an upper floor and reports say that the girls may have suffered some injuries during the raid.

According to the secretary of the school district's superintendent, Jan Howard, students in both schools are in a "safe location", but police say that parents are not able to pick up their kids due to the closure of the main highway.

Several shots were fired according to the sheriff's department, which are believed to be the "loud noise" that prompted the evacuation of the rest of the two schools.

The police had "limited contact" with Morrison and the hostages. Contact with them had been "a little bit sporadic," said spokeswoman with the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office, Jacki Kelley.

"It's very sketchy at this stage but we can confirm that a man carrying a weapon is inside the building and two girls are being held hostage. The man entered a classroom at about noon and had an exchange with a teacher and fired more than one shot. We have no reports of any injuries. We know he is armed with a weapon because shots were fired but we do not know what kind of a weapon it is," added Kelley.

Morrison was found to have used a revolver and a semi-automatic pistol when police removed his body after the raid. Upon further investigation, Morrison was also found to have been a homeless man who lived out of his car.

Park County Sheriff Fred Wegener said authorities decided to storm the classroom after Morrison cut off negotiations and set a 4 p.m. deadline. Wegener wouldn't say what Morrison threatened to do. He said authorities used explosives as they entered the classroom, only to have the suspect fire at officers, shoot one of the girls and then himself.

"We have almost no information on this suspect. We don't know who he is. We don't know what he wants," said Kelley.

According to Sheriff Wegener, Morrison also sexually assaulted at least one of the hostages while holding them captive.

During the raid on the school, Morrison shot one of the hostages, identified by acquaintances and a co-worker as 16-year-old Emily Keyes. She was reported to have been bleeding heavily and was taken to a Denver hospital in critical condition, but was declared dead, a hospital spokeswoman said.