An Iowa State principal who risked his life to protect students has died 10 days after a high school shooting
A beloved principal who was wounded after a gunman opened fire at an Iowa high school has died after 10 days in the hospital.
Principal Dan Marburger was among the three staff members and four students injured on Jan. 4 when a 17-year-old student opened fire at Perry High School in the small community of Perry, Iowa.
The sixth-grader, Ahmad Gullev, 11, was killed by three gunshot wounds, and the state coroner ruled his manner of death a homicide, officials said.
His daughter, Claire, said on Facebook that Marburger tried to calm the shooter down and “distract him” so the students could escape. He was hit by several gunshots.
Marburger was in stable condition after the shooting, but on Sunday, Gov. Kim Reynolds announced his death in a statement.
“Our entire state is devastated by the news of Dan Marburger’s death. Kevin and I offer our deepest condolences to his wife and family and are praying for their comfort during this extremely difficult time,” Reynolds said. “Dan courageously put himself in harm’s way to protect his students, ultimately giving his life to save them.” . He will forever be remembered for his heroic and selfless actions. May he rest in peace.”
The Perry Community School District expressed its “deepest condolences” to the Marburger family in a statement.
“Dan was a tremendous leader in our school district and a loving husband, father and grandfather. Our school community is saddened by Dan’s passing. For nearly three decades, Dan was ingrained in every aspect of our Perry Community School District environment, and so are we,” the statement read. “I feel the terrible loss of a loyal and caring colleague.”
Reynolds ordered all flags in Iowa to be flown at half-staff on Sunday and remain there until sunset on the day of Marburger’s funeral, according to the governor’s office.
Claire said her father was known as a “gentle giant” and an “amazing father and wonderful person”.
“He would do anything for us kids, including driving 7 hours back and forth on school nights to college games in Decorah. She stayed long enough to give me $20 and tell me I played well, give me a hug and walk out,” she said in her post.
Marberger has worked in Perry Schools for more than 20 years and played an important role in helping students grieve after tragic accidents and losses.
In 2003, he supported students after a middle school student died when he was hit by a car driven by a 16-year-old sophomore. Two years later, he stood by the community after a 19-year-old former basketball player died of cancer, the Des Moines Register reported at the time.
The shooting occurred at Perry High School around 7:37 a.m. before school started on the first day after winter break.
There weren’t many students on campus, but there was a breakfast program, said Mitch Mortvedt, assistant director of the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation.
Police said the shooter was armed with an automatic rifle and a small-caliber handgun. An “explosive device” was also found.
Authorities have not announced a motive, and the investigation is ongoing.