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Iowa Principal Who Risked His Life to Protect Students in School Shooting Has Died

An Iowa principal who put himself in harm’s way to protect students during a school shooting earlier this month died Sunday, a funeral home confirmed.

Caldwell Parrish Funeral Home & Crematory confirmed the death of Perry High School Principal Dan Marburger after the family announced it on a GoFundMe page.

Marburger was critically injured during the Jan. 4 attack, which began in the school’s cafeteria as students were gathering for breakfast before class. An 11-year-old middle school student was killed in the shooting, and six other people were injured. The 17-year-old student who opened fire also died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot.

The day after the shooting, the state Department of Public Safety said Marburger “acted selflessly and placed himself in harm’s way in an apparent effort to protect his students.”

News of Marburger’s death was first posted on a GoFundMe page for his family. The post, by Marburger’s wife, Elizabeth, said he died at about 8 a.m. Sunday, and said: “Dan lost his battle. He fought hard and gave us 10 days that we will treasure forever.”

The news that Marburger died triggered a flood of support on the Perry Facebook page with nearly 200 people posting condolences within the first hour after it was posted.

In a Facebook post on the night of the shooting, the principal’s daughter, Claire Marburger, called her father a “gentle giant” and said it wasn’t surprising that her father tried to protect his students.

“As I heard of a gunman, I instantly had a feeling my Dad would be a victim as he would put himself in harms way for the benefit of the kids and his staff,” his daughter wrote. “That’s just Dad.”

Marburger had been principal since 1995.

Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation spokesman Mitch Mortvedt said after the shooting that Marburger did some “pretty significant things” to protect others, but didn’t release details. Perry Superintendent Clark Wicks said Marburger was a “hero” who intervened with the teenage gunman so students could escape.

An 11-year-old 6th grader, Ahmir Jolliff, was killed in the shooting. Authorities said he was shot three times.

The shooting happened just after 7:30 a.m. on Jan. 4, shortly before classes were set to begin on the first day back after winter break. Mortvedt said the shooting started in the cafeteria, where students from several grades were eating breakfast, then spilled outside the cafeteria but was contained to the north end of the school.

Authorities said the suspect, identified as Dylan Butler, had a pump-action shotgun and a small-caliber handgun. Mortvedt told The Associated Press that authorities also found a “pretty rudimentary” improvised explosive device in Butler’s belongings, and that experts advised “it was something that they needed to disarm.” It was rendered safe.

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