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 January 16, 2024

Iowa Principal Who Risked His Life During School Shooting Passes Away

In a tragic turn of events, Dan Marburger, the principal of Perry High School in Iowa, succumbed to his injuries following a devastating school shooting.

The peaceful start of a school day was shattered by gunfire at Perry High School, resulting in the death of a principal and a sixth grader, with four others injured.

On January 4, Perry High School, a quiet educational institution in the small town of Perry, Iowa, became the site of a horrific incident. Dan Marburger, the school's respected principal, was critically injured during a shooting that occurred just before the start of the school day. This tragic event followed the winter break, a time typically associated with joy and rejuvenation.

Community in Shock over School Violence

The shooting, primarily taking place in the school's cafeteria, left an indelible mark on the community. In addition to Marburger's grievous injuries, a sixth-grade student tragically lost their life. The incident further resulted in four other individuals being injured, adding to the toll of this senseless act of violence.

As the situation unfolded, the assailant, a 17-year-old student of the school, concluded the rampage by taking his own life. This occurred as police arrived at the scene, bringing a grim end to the episode.

Following the shooting, the state Department of Public Safety lauded Marburger for his bravery. They highlighted how he "acted selflessly and placed himself in harm’s way in an apparent effort to protect his students." This commendation underscored the principal's dedication to his students and staff.

Heroism Recognized in the Face of Adversity

Mitch Mortvedt, a spokesperson for the state Division of Criminal Investigation, acknowledged Marburger's significant actions during the incident. While details were not provided, it was clear that Marburger played a crucial role in mitigating further harm. Superintendent Clark Wicks echoed these sentiments, referring to Marburger as a "hero."

"That’s just Dad," expressed Claire Marburger, Dan Marburger's daughter, in a poignant Facebook post. She described her father as a "gentle giant," reinforcing the image of a man whose size was matched only by his kindness and protective nature.

Located about 45 minutes northwest of Des Moines, Perry is a small town unaccustomed to such violent acts. This incident has brought not only local but also statewide attention, with Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds expressing her deep condolences. Governor Reynolds emphasized the need for a thorough investigation to prevent similar tragedies in the future.

Grieving a Community Leader

The loss of Dan Marburger was a heavy blow to the Perry community. In a town where everyone is connected, the impact of such a tragedy is magnified. His passing, a result of the injuries sustained in the shooting, was mourned by students, colleagues, and residents alike.

The day after the horrific event, tributes began to pour in for Marburger. His actions during the shooting were hailed as nothing short of heroic. His commitment to the safety and well-being of his students shone brightly even in his final moments.

In her tribute to her father, Claire Marburger shed light on the man behind the principal. Her description of him as a "gentle giant" resonated with those who knew him, painting a picture of a compassionate, caring individual, always ready to protect those under his charge.

State and Local Authorities Respond

In the aftermath of the shooting, state and local authorities were quick to respond. Investigations were launched to understand the circumstances leading up to the event. The focus was not only on the shooter but also on the systemic issues that might have contributed to this tragedy.

Governor Kim Reynolds' commitment to a thorough investigation was a testament to the severity of the incident. Her pledge to work tirelessly for answers underscored the state's determination to prevent future occurrences of such tragedies.

The community of Perry, still reeling from the shock, began the difficult process of healing. Schools across the state reviewed their security protocols, and discussions about school safety were reignited, bringing the issue to the forefront of statewide concern.

Remembering a Hero

The memory of Dan Marburger is etched in the hearts of the Perry community. His sacrifice, a stark reminder of the dangers facing educators and students in schools today, has sparked a broader conversation about school safety and mental health resources.

His legacy, however, extends beyond the tragedy. It is a legacy of courage, compassion, and an unwavering commitment to the well-being of his students. Marburger's story is not just one of loss but also heroism, inspiring educators and administrators nationwide.

As the community mourns, they also celebrate the life of a man who was much more than a principal. He was a protector, a leader, and a beacon of hope in the darkest of times.

Lessons to learn from this tragedy

The tragic events at Perry High School hold several important lessons. While these lessons cannot change what has happened, they can guide us in preventing similar occurrences in the future.

  1. Firstly, the importance of mental health resources in schools cannot be overstated. Early intervention and support can be crucial in identifying and addressing issues before they escalate.
  2. Secondly, school security measures need continuous review and updating. This includes not only physical security but also training for staff and students on how to respond to such incidents.
  3. Thirdly, the role of the community in supporting schools and students during crises is vital. A united community response can provide the necessary support and resources for recovery.
  4. Finally, the story highlights the need for ongoing dialogue about gun safety and regulations. It's crucial to balance the rights of individuals with the safety of the community.

It is essential to remember that despite taking all precautions, crime can happen to anyone. We should never blame the victim. Instead, we should learn from each incident and work collectively towards a safer future.

Why this story matters

This story matters for several reasons. It highlights the bravery and sacrifice of educators like Dan Marburger, who put their students' safety above their own. It brings attention to the issue of school shootings, a disturbing trend that has affected too many communities across the nation. The story also underscores the importance of mental health resources and preventive measures in schools. Lastly, it serves as a call to action for communities and lawmakers to address the underlying causes of such violence and work towards effective solutions.


  • Dan Marburger, principal of Perry High School, died from injuries sustained in a school shooting.
  • The shooting took place on January 4, involving a 17-year-old gunman who also died.
  • A sixth-grade student was killed, and four others were injured in the incident.
  • Marburger was hailed as a hero for his actions during the shooting.

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Written By: Rampart Stonebridge

I'm Rampart Stonebridge, a curious and passionate writer who can't get enough of true crime. As a criminal investigative journalist, I put on my detective hat, delving deep into each case to reveal the hidden truths. My mission? To share engaging stories and shed light on the complexities of our mysterious world, all while satisfying your curiosity about the intriguing realm of true crime.
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