Colorado · School Violence

Man takes 6 girls hostage at their school, sexually assaults them, kills one and self

September 27, 2006
Bailey, Colorado
Duane Roger Morrison enters Platte Canyon High School, takes six female students hostage, sexually assaults them, kills one, then shoots himself

Morrison, an unemployed drifter, entered the high school around 11:40 a.m. with a pistol and a revolver, as well as a backpack filled with various items including tape, rope, massage oil, and knives. Morrison then entered a classroom. When the teacher asked what he was doing there, he produced a gun and ordered her, the male students, and several female students to leave. Seven female students remained, though he released one of the hostages before police arrived at the scene.

Morrison had the teenage girls stand facing the classroom’s chalkboard and systematically sexually assaulted each, telling the victims he would kill them if they did not comply.

Police attempted to negotiate with Morrison, securing the release of four of the six remaining hostages. Morrison stated he would end negotiations at 4 p.m., promising “something would happen” at that time. SWAT team members stormed the room at approximately 3:45, and Morrison used the hostages as a human shield until 16-year-old Emily Keyes attempted to run away. Morrison shot at Keyes, hitting her in the right side of her head. She was airlifted to a hospital in Denver but was pronounced dead at 4:32 p.m. Morrison was shot three times by police: once each in the head, shoulder, and hand; none were fatal. Morrison then turned the gun on himself, issuing a fatal wound to his head.

In a 14-page suicide letter, Morrison mentioned he had been abused by his father as a child and wrestled with suicidal thoughts for three decades. Supervisory Special Agent Joe Gordon of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives was quoted by the Denver Post as saying of Morrison’s alleged abuse: “He said his father was always screaming and yelling. That in no way justifies the horrific crime he committed.” Gordon went on to say, based on the contents of the letter, it appeared Morrison only intended to kill himself, and asked his family not to feel guilty for this actions.

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