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Duane Roger MORRISON

 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 


Platte Canyon High School shooting
 
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Rape - Hostage crisis
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: September 27, 2006
Date of birth: 1952
Victim profile: Emily Keyes, 16
Method of murder: Shooting
Location: Bailey, Colorado, USA
Status: Committed suicide by shooting himself the same day
 
 
 
 
 
 

Duane Roger Morrison (c. 1952—September 27, 2006) was the lone gunman of Denver, Colorado who stormed into Platte Canyon High School and took six female students hostage, killing one of them, identified as 16-year-old Emily Keyes.

Morrison later shot and killed himself. Paramedics at the scene pronounced him dead. Morrison had previous minor legal problems, including a July 2006 arrest for obstructing police and a 1973 arrest for larceny and marijuana possession.

Platte Canyon High School shooting

On September 27, 2006, 11:40 AM MDT, Morrison entered the school carrying a backpack, in which he had stated there were explosives. A police report was filed later saying that he fired his handgun when the teacher did not do what he asked.

He appeared to have no apparent motive in the classroom, but told the male students to exit the classroom, leaving him with six female students hostage. It has been reported that he sexually assaulted the hostages while in the classroom.

While other students were evacuated from the school, Morrison allegedly negotiated with law enforcement about the goal of having all six hostages released. Only four of the six were released. Negotiators had raised the intensity of the conversations with Morrison. When Morrison broke off negotiations for the last time, the decision was made to enter the room.

Police broke open the door with explosives. Morrison then began firing at police and shot one of the hostages, 16-year-old Emily Keyes, before taking his own life. The police entered after Morrison committed suicide, and the injured girl was taken to a nearby hospital in Denver, where she was pronounced dead. The other girl Morrison had captured survived. The investigators did not find any sign of explosives.

At 3:40 PM MDT, it was said that a gurney was removed. In one of them was Keyes; the other did not have a body. Park County coroner Sharon Morris was then quoted as saying the body of Morrison was still in the classroom as of 6 PM. District officials closed Platte Canyon High School and Fitzsimmons Middle School immediately after Morrison's crimes, but they have since reopened.
 

Emily Keyes, the victim.

 
 

The Platte Canyon High School shooting was an incident that occurred at Platte Canyon High School in Bailey, Colorado, on September 27, 2006. 53-year-old Duane Roger Morrison entered the school building, claiming to be carrying a bomb.

He was initially reported as a bearded 35-year-old man with a camouflage backpack and dark hooded sweatshirt. Morrison took six female students hostage and sexually assaulted them, later releasing four.

When police entered the classroom, Morrison opened fire before shooting hostage Emily Keyes in the head. The other remaining hostage escaped unharmed, and paramedics confirmed that Morrison had committed suicide.

Keyes was pronounced dead at 4:32 p.m. MDT (23:32 UTC) at Saint Anthony's Hospital in Denver, Colorado after undergoing emergency surgery.

The incident brought to attention the Columbine High School massacre of 1999, during which two teenage students carried out a shooting rampage 38 miles away in Littleton, Colorado, as well as the importance of school safety.

Entry and hostage-taking

About 11:40 a.m., Duane R. Morrison (who had been arrested in 1973 for larceny and possession of marijuana and on a separate occasion arrested for obstructing police in Littleton, Colorado) entered the school carrying a gun and a backpack, which he claimed contained explosives. One report attributed to the local police stated that Morrison fired a single shot using his handgun when a teacher did not do what he asked.

A sixteen-year-old student named Katrina Keller reportedly saw Morrison entering the school before the time specified by police. She stated that she had been walking past a vacant classroom and saw a man inside wearing a hooded sweatshirt, apparently angry. Keller did not report the incident to the school office.

Other students reported that they witnessed Morrison sitting in a yellow Jeep in the school parking lot at around 10:45 a.m., almost an hour before he entered the school. Morrison was believed to have been living in the car, camping out near Bailey.

Videos taken from security cameras outside show that Morrison was in his Jeep for at least 20 minutes, mingling with students as classes changed, 35 minutes before the siege began. Earlier, Morrison had spoken to a male high school student that day and "asked about the identity of a list of female students".

After entering a classroom on the second floor, where teacher Sandra Smith taught honors English, Morrison fired his handgun into the air and instructed all of the students to stand facing the chalkboard. Sheriff Wegener informed the media that all the girls were molested, though he did not know "how much or to what degree".

Lynna Long, a 15-year-old sophomore and one of the six hostages, stated that Duane Morrison lined the girls up facing a chalkboard and then sexually assaulted all of them; Long stated that she knew that the other hostages were being molested because of "the rustling of clothes and elastic being snapped and zippers being opened and closed".

Negotiations and evacuations

A "code white" alert was sounded over the intercom and students were instructed to remain in their classrooms. Negotiations with Morrison began with the goal of allowing the six remaining hostages in the room to be released. He spoke via telephone and used the student hostages as relayers between the negotiators and himself, as he did not want to speak directly with officials.

After four of the six girls were released, negotiators heightened the intensity of their indirect discussions with Morrison. During this time Keyes managed to send her family a brief text message stating, "I love u guys" in response to a text message ("R U OK?") her father, John-Michael Keyes, had sent using his cell phone after receiving word that an incident was occurring at the high school. When Keyes' father sent the message "Where are you?", he received no response.

A total of 800 students from both Platte Canyon High School and the nearby Fitzsimmons Middle School were rapidly evacuated. Morrison's demands were unknown, although police confirmed that his primary concern was a request for the police to back away.

All students, except the hostages, were safely evacuated by 12:10 p.m. and by 3:00 p.m. all had been taken to Deer Creek Elementary School. Parents were able to gain little information from authorities, who remained silent regarding the issue while the crisis continued.

Shooting

Deaths

  • Emily Keyes killed by a shot to the head.

  • Duane R. Morrison (gunman) committed suicide.

By the time the four student hostages were released, a bomb squad, SWAT team from Jefferson County, and agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives were sent to the scene. Ambulances parked in the end zone of the high school's football field. A 4 mile (6 km) stretch of U.S. Route 285 was closed. Morrison explicitly stated that he would stop negotiating at 4:00 p.m.

Park County sheriff Fred Wegener (whose son was in the school building at the time of the incident) said that police had chosen to storm the second-floor classroom after the man ended negotiations, stating that "something would happen at 4 p.m."

SWAT team members witnessed Morrison assaulting the girls, and Wegener made the decision to save the hostages by force, stating later, "My decision was either wait—[and have the] possibility of having two dead hostages or act and try to save what I feared he would do to them. ... Because I'd want whoever was in my position to do the same thing, and that is to save lives."

The police burst through the door at approximately 3:45 p.m. After using the hostages as human shields against the Jefferson County SWAT team, Morrison shot at the policemen, and then at hostage 16-year-old junior Emily Keyes, who was trying to run. Morrison committed suicide soon thereafter.

Keyes was taken by helicopter to a hospital in Denver, where she was pronounced dead at 4:32 p.m. The other hostage survived with no physical injuries. Investigators found no sign of explosives in the man's backpack, but an assault rifle was found in a clearing adjacent to a river about a mile north of the school.

The coroner of Park County, Sharon Morris, confirmed that the body of Morrison (which had four bullet wounds, three nonfatal from police and one fatal shot from his own gun) was still in the second-floor classroom as of 6:00 p.m. District officials stated that both the high school and Fitzsimmons Middle School would be closed for September 28 and September 29; a counseling center set up at a local church would open at 7:00 a.m. for students.

Aftermath

Platte Canyon High School reopened a week after the shooting on October 5. Memorials had been erected along the highway leading to the school that carried messages such as "Be Strong" and "Random Acts of Kindness".

A number of students prayed in front of the school before the day began and students were given donated teddy bears as they left. Fifty counselors were present during the day for students. Superintendent Dr. James Walpole noted that of 460 high school students, only 10 were absent.

The service for Emily Keyes was held on September 30, the day that Governor Bill Owens later declared "Emily Keyes Day". About 5,000 motorcyclists took part in the "Columbine to Canyon Ride", which occurred in memory of the victims of both the Columbine and Platte Canyon disasters.

The procession of motorcycles was so long that the first to get to Platte Canyon High School arrived as the final motorcyclists departed from Columbine High School, two riding alongside each other.

The efforts initiated toward increased school security had come to a standstill several years after the Columbine High School massacre as federal and state funding toward safety was cut in favor of higher test scores. Although an increase of communication with law enforcement was evident in the Platte Canyon High School shooting, Del Elliot of the University of Colorado noted that "[the vast majority of school districts] are so totally absorbed with CSAP and academic requirements that they aren't spending a lot of time and resources on this issue".

By October 11, investigators had conducted 124 interviews and had found 174 pieces of evidence related to the case. They were also investigating the Amish school shooting in Pennsylvania, which had occurred five days after the shooting in Bailey.

As a result of the September 27 incident, Platte Canyon High School increased its security, leaving only one school entrance unlocked. It plans to install more security cameras. Park County Sheriff Fred Wegener proposed having a guard there during the school day, but he stated that that particular suggestion was outside the current budget.

Police announced that a suicide letter written by perpetrator Duane Morrison to a family member was being analyzed by the FBI. Morrison's family gave the letter to police, who then submitted the document to the FBI Behavioral Unit in Quantico, Virginia.

Wikipedia.org

 
 

Gunman, hostage die

Gunman kills girl, self as SWAT team storms class after 4-hour standoff

By Carlos Illescas, Karen Rouse and Joey Bunch - Denver Post Staff Writers

September 27, 2006

Bailey - A teenage girl was fatally shot Wednesday afternoon just after authorities stormed a Platte Canyon High School classroom to end a standoff with a gunman who had taken hostages.

The gunman fired at approaching SWAT officers and then at the girl before shooting himself. Police did not identify the man, who died at the scene.

The girl was flown to St. Anthony Central Hospital in Denver, where she was pronounced dead at 4:32 p.m. Hospital spokeswoman Bev Lilly said she believed the girl was shot in the head.

Authorities did not release the name of the victim, but friends of the family said she was 16-year-old Emily Keyes. Lynn Bigham, a friend of the victim's, described Emily as "sweet and affectionate."

The gunman had taken a total of six female hostages, and all but two had been released by the time Jefferson County SWAT deputies charged into the room shortly before 4 p.m., about four hours after the standoff began.

"We were afraid of the worst, and we had to do what we had to do," Park County Sheriff Fred Wegener said. "I don't know why he wanted to do this."

The man, wearing a dark hooded sweatshirt and carrying a backpack, entered the school at 11:40 a.m., apparently looking for someone specific, according to witnesses, although police would not confirm that.

He entered Sandra Smith's honors English class and fired a shot in the air, then told all the students to stand facing the chalkboard, said Tom Grigg, whose son, Cassidy, was in the classroom.

Then, the gunman approached each boy in the class and told them to get out.

"A guy came up and pointed a gun at (Cassidy) and told him to leave," Grigg said. "He said, 'No, I want to stay with the girls,' and the guy put the gun in his face and said, 'You. Out of here."'

Police would not say whether the gunman sexually assaulted any of the girls. But Grigg said his son told him, "There were some really bad things that happened in that classroom." He did not elaborate.

Once school officials realized the threat, they issued a "code-white" alert over the intercom, meaning the school was in lockdown.

Park County sheriff's deputies secured the building and tried to negotiate with the gunman, who refused to speak directly to them. The hostages were used to relay messages to authorities, Wegener said.

The man released four of the six girls, one at a time, but kept two inside the room as negotiators intensified their discussions with him, Wegener said.

At 3:30 p.m., the sheriff said, the gunman gave them a 4 p.m. deadline when he would stop negotiations.

"It was then decided that a tactical solution needed to be done in an effort to save the two hostages in the room," Wegener said.

With Park County officials securing the inner perimeter of the school, the Jefferson County SWAT team entered the classroom, Wegener said.

The gunman had shielded himself with one of the two girls, the sheriff said. He declined to say whether deputies fired any shots in the classroom.

At 3:40 p.m., a gurney was brought out of the school with the girl. A second gurney that came out was empty.

Earlier in the day, as the standoff dragged on, frantic parents searched for information about the status of their children.

Patti Browning's son was on a field trip to Denver when he called her to let her know he was OK. "That was a relief," she said, "but I'm still worried for all the others."

Dawn Mack, whose daughter attends Conifer High School, was at Deer Creek Elementary School, where evacuated students were taken, to check on her friends' children. She had heard all sorts of rumors, including that some children were being molested by the gunman.

"You don't know what's going on," Mack said. "You don't know what to believe. ... In that condition, your mind just goes out there."

About 3 p.m., cheers erupted when buses turned toward Deer Creek, where the evacuated students were taken. Parents waved joyfully, many shouting, "I love you," when they spotted their children through bus windows.

Sarah Mendoza was overcome with emotion when she spotted her son, who attends Fitzsimmons Middle School, which is adjacent to the high school.

"This is a parent's worst nightmare," she said. "I can't tell you how happy I am."

The standoff was eerily similar to the Columbine High School shooting seven years ago, as televised images showed students lining up and boarding school buses.

At Deer Creek on Wednesday, Bill Twyford of Bailey said he received a text message about 20 minutes before noon from his 15-year-old son, Billy. The message said, "Hey, there's a gun-hijacking in our school right now. I'm fine. Bad situation, though."

As police negotiated with the gunman, deputies told students to put their hands on their heads and go into the gymnasium.

"People were crying and people were going around looking for their friends and trying to cheer themselves up," said sophomore Randell Callahan. "All the teachers from the high school were in there."

Park County Coroner Sharon Morris said the body of the gunman was still in the second-floor classroom as of 6 p.m. Morris said she knew the identity of the gunman but is still in the process of notifying the family and could not release his name.

A 4-mile stretch of U.S. 285 that was closed during the standoff is expected to remain closed until noon today.

Platte Canyon High School and Fitzsimmons Middle School will be closed today, said Platte Canyon counselor Jim Orcutt. District officials have set up a counseling center for students and their families at Platte Canyon Community Church in Bailey. It will open today at 7 a.m.

 
 

Gunman assaulted girls before killing himself

Standoff leaves 16-year-old dead

By Anslee Willet and Dennis Huspeni - The Gazette

A 53-year-old man sexually assaulted girls he held hostage Wednesday at a Park County high school before fatally shooting one and killing himself.

Duane Roger Morrison of Denver held six girls captive at Platte Canyon High School in Bailey southwest of Denver before letting four of them go, one by one.

“He did traumatize and assault our children,” Park County Sheriff Fred Wegener said this morning, describing the assaults as “sexual in nature.” He didn’t say how many of the girls were assaulted during the four-hour ordeal.

Morrison shot 16-year-old Emily Keyes as SWAT team members stormed the English classroom where he was holed up with two of the girls. Keyes, a junior, later died at a Denver hospital. Autopsies are scheduled today on Morrison and Keyes.

Keyes grew up in Bailey and had a twin brother, Casey, said Sabrina Blea, also 16. She described Emily as friendly, bright, an athlete who played volleyball.

“She liked to talk a lot,” Blea said. “About how people need to change and live life good. She’s so innocent. I can’t believe it.”

Morrison, who had been living out of his car but had a Denver address, had a semi-automatic pistol and a revolver.

Investigators haven’t found a link between him and the school, and the motive “still remains a mystery,” the sheriff said.

“This is something that has changed my school, changed my community,” said Wegener, a 36-year resident of Bailey. “My small county’s gone.”

Morrison began the takeover about 11:30 a.m. Wednesday when he walked into a classroom, fired a shot at the floor and ordered students to line up at the chalk board. He then allowed some to leave, but kept six girls hostage.

Morrison initially talked with negotiators, then did so by having his hostages yell replies down a hallway. Before he broke off communication, Morrison said “something would happen at 4 p.m.,” Wegener said.

SWAT team members witnessed Morrison assaulting some of the girls, and relayed the information to the sheriff. Wegener said his decision to move in on Morrison was prompted by the vague deadline threat, Morrison cutting off negotiations and the SWAT team’s observations of what Morrison was doing to his hostages.

“My decision was either wait — (and have the) possibility of having two dead hostages or act and try to save what I feared he would do to them,” Wegener said. “We had to try to save them.”

As SWAT members rushed the classroom, Morrison fired at them, shot the girl, then shot himself, Wegener said. SWAT members fired back.

Asked about his decision to send in the SWAT team, Wegener said: “Being a sheriff in a small community, knowing all the parents, knowing the kids — my daughter graduated last year, my son’s a junior here — it is very difficult. Because I’d want whoever was in my position to do the same thing, and that is to save lives.”

As the hostage situation began, the school went into “Code White,” and teachers instantly reacted by locking students in classrooms and keeping them away from doors and windows. Eventually, SWAT team members led students out of the building to safety.

Students were bused to a nearby elementary school, where they were reunited with frantic parents who scrambled to find their children.

“All we could do is pray,” said Mary Sasser, who has a 15-year-old daughter at the school. She heard the sirens as deputies rushed by and followed.

Court records show Morrison was arrested in July in the west Denver suburb of Lakewood on a charge of obstructing police in Littleton. He also was arrested in 1973 for larceny and marijuana possession.

Morrison’s stepmother said she and her husband, Bob Morrison, “have no record of him being, having any trouble before.”

“We just know the way he was raised,” she said, but declined to elaborate. She declined to give her first name.

She said she and her husband, who live in Tulsa, Okla., had not heard from Duane Morrison recently.

She said Duane Morrison’s mother died 30 or 35 years ago.

“His father was in the services and he grew up in different places,” she said.

It was unclear how the gunman entered the school, but Katrina Keller, 16, may have been one of the first to spot the intruder. She said she was walking by an empty classroom about 11 a.m. when she spotted a man inside. He was wearing a hooded jacket and looked angry, she said. But she didn’t report him to the school office.

“I should’ve said something,” she said. “If I’d said something, it might not have been this bad.”

Others just wondered why.

“It’s Bailey,” said 15-year-old Sophie Sasser, her eyes red from crying. “Not a lot of things happen in Bailey.”

 
 

High school hostages were sexually assaulted

Shooting victim identified as 16-year-old junior

By Rocky Mountain News Staff and Wire

September 27, 2006

The teenage girl shot to death during a hostage standoff at Platte Canyon High School has been identified as Emily Keyes, a 16-year-old junior, by friends and classmates.

She died about 4:30 p.m. after undergoing emergency surgery at St. Anthony's Central hospital, according to hospital spokeswoman Bev Lilly.

Keyes underwent emergency surgery about 4 p.m. after being flown from the school.

The full horror of the days events are still emerging. A knowledgeable law enforcement source who spoke on the condition he not be identified said that the gunman sexually assaulted some of six female students who were held hostage at the school.

The gunman has not been identified. He carried a handgun into the school about 11:30 a.m. and fired a shot into the ceiling as he took over a second floor classroom.

Authorities negotiated the release of four of the girls one by one over the course of the afternoon. An unknown number were sexually assaulted before they were released, the source said.

One of the two hostages who were not released, a 16-year-old junior, died after being shot by the attacker when police burst into the room about 3:45 p.m. to end the stalemate.

Park County Sheriff Fred Wegener said he made the decision to send officers in to end the stalemate about 3:30 p.m. because the gunman had given a 4 p.m. deadline. In a Wednesday night press conference he was asked if he was second-guessing himself.

"Yes, I eventually have to go face a family who’s daughter is dead," Wegener said. "Yes. What would you do?"

The sheriff said his own son was in the school building when gunman took over the school.

Wegener said the man shot at officers who stormed into the classroom, then shot the victim and then killed himself, as officers rushed in.

The other remaining hostage was pulled to safety by deputies.

The sheriff said investigators have some leads on the identity of the gunman but are not yet certain who he was. His body remains in the school.

He said the gunman talked with negotiators and released four of his six hostages one by one until negotiations broke off around 3:30 p.m.

The gunman ordered all of the male students out of the classroom when he took over, and made all of the girls stay, according to accounts from students in the classroom next door.

Authorities found at least one suspicious device that looked like a bomb and are still checking the school.

The school sits in a narrow, winding canyon carved by the South Platte River about 35 miles southwest of Denver. and shares a campus with Fitzsimmons Middle School. The two schools have an enrollment of about 770 students, with 460 in the high school.

Superintendent James Walpole said there will be no school Thursday or Friday at the schools because the campus is a crime scene. Counselors will be made available to students and staff, he said.

Communication among the law enforcement agencies on the scene worked better than they did at the Columbine shootings April 20, 1999, when officers with various jurisdictions were unable to talk to one another because of incompatible radio systems.

The Metro Area Communication vehicle was sent to the scene to help the multiple agencies communicate. The technology in the truck allows the different radio systems to be patched together to create one large radio system.

"It was purchased for this very reason, when you have a multi-agency incident," said Sonny Jackson, spokesman for Denver Police Department. "This is the first time it has been called out of the Denver area."

The U.S. Department of Justice purchased 25 of the trucks for cities across the nation. One of the $500,000 vehicles was sent to Denver about a year ago.

"It's a better means of communicating," Jackson said.

 
 


Duane Roger Morrison

 

Emily Keyes, the victim.

 

 

 
 
 
 
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