Heavily armed man killed himself rather than carry out attack at amusement park, say police

The would-be gunman was found with ghost guns and a mixture of real and fake explosives

Graig Graziosi
Tuesday 31 October 2023 17:19 GMT
Related video: 2023 on pace to have highest number of mass shootings in US history

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Louise Thomas

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A man with an arsenal of weapons died by suicide, apparently as a way to stop himself from carrying out a mass shooting at an amusement park, according to police

On Saturday morning, a maintenance worker at the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park found Diego Barajas Medina, 20, dead in one of the park's bathrooms. The worker found the man wearing body armour and tactical gear and armed with an AR-15 style rifle, a handgun and explosives.

A note was written on the wall of the women's bathroom — where the man’s body was located — according to Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario.

Mr Vallario said he could not be certain that the message was left by Medina.

When police searched Medina's vehicle, they found multiple improvised explosive devices. No other explosives were found throughout the park.

"Given the preparation, given the amount of weapons and ordinance he had it almost seemed very highly likely he intended to use those against the community. He chose not to," Mr Vallario told the press.

People riding the Giant Canyon Swing at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs, Colorado
People riding the Giant Canyon Swing at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs, Colorado (AP)

The sheriff said the park is usually crowded on fall weekends, filled with guests hoping to chance a glimpse of the changing leaves before the arrival of winter. The park is relatively isolated, and guests typically reach it by gondola. That isolation could have made an attack at the park that much worse, according to Mr Vallario.

“If he had (gone) through with … the worst-case scenario, it could have been devastating for no other reason (than) just trying to get aid and help and the number of first responders up there, let alone get victims down the mountain,” he said, according to CNN.

Medina was reportedly carrying ghost guns, which have no serial numbers and thus cannot be traced. He wore clothing bearing patches similar to law enforcement, and carried some fake explosives — like faux hand grenades — among his real ordinance.

He had no criminal history and no known previous encounters with law enforcement, according to the Associated Press.

“We don’t see any history, we don’t see any reason, we don’t see any motive. He was just completely under the radar, Mr Vallario said. “To the best of my knowledge at this point … there was nothing to indicate any type of warning, or any type of concern on the part of family, friends, school, what have you.”

Despite the mystery surrounding Mr Medina's motives and final moments, Mr Vallario expressed some relief that the little mountain community appeared to have narrowly avoided tragedy.

“We are, to say the least, extremely lucky that he did not fulfill whatever plan he may have intentioned,” Mr Vallario said Monday. “It could have caused a devastating impact on this community, potential for many, many people to be killed and injured.”

The park has been closed since Medina's body was discovered.

If you are experiencing feelings of distress, or are struggling to cope and you are based in the USA, and you or someone you know needs mental health assistance right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Helpline on 1-800-273-TALK (8255). This is a free, confidential crisis hotline that is available to everyone 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you are based in the UK, you can speak to the Samaritans, in confidence, on 116 123 (UK and ROI), email jo@samaritans.org, or visit the Samaritans website to find details of your nearest branch. If you are in another country, you can go to www.befrienders.org to find a helpline near you.

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