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Potential Colorado mass shooting avoided due to gunman’s suicide

By CM Chaney · November 1, 2023

In brief…

  • Heavily armed man found dead in Colorado theme park bathroom before opening
  • Diegu Barajas Medina, 20, had AR-style rifle, handgun, explosives, body armor
  • Note found stated "I am not a killer, I just want to get into the caves"
  • No prior indications of attack plans; reason for not acting unclear
A potential mass shooting was averted when a heavily armed 20-year-old killed himself inside a Colorado theme park before carrying out an apparent planned attack.  Martin Lewison / Wikimedia

A potential mass shooting was thwarted in Colorado on Saturday morning when a heavily armed 20-year-old man took his own life inside a women’s bathroom at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park.

Diego Barajas Medina of nearby Carbondale entered the closed theme park while carrying an AR-style rifle, a handgun, explosives, and wearing tactical body armor and clothing resembling a police SWAT uniform, authorities said.

A note left on the bathroom wall stated, “I am not a killer, I just want to get into the caves,” according to Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario. Officials found the weapons and explosives nearby, some real and some fake. It is unclear if Medina left the note.

The incident occurred before the park opened, and no employees or visitors were present. The park is located on a mountaintop above the Colorado River and features cave tours, rides and attractions popular with autumn visitors.

Authorities said there were no prior indications from Medina’s home or school suggesting plans for an attack. The FBI will help investigate his phone and social media. Improvised explosives were also found in Medina’s vehicle in the parking area.

Sheriff Vallario believes Medina intended to use the arsenal based on the extent of his preparations. However, the reason he chose not to act remains unclear. The weapons were untraceable “ghost guns” lacking serial numbers.

Medina lived with his mother and brother in Carbondale. A search of his bedroom found no explosives or other suspicious materials. He had no known criminal record or previous encounters with police.

While the potential loss of life was averted, the tragic incident serves as a reminder of the importance of community, said Glenwood Caverns general manager Nancy Heard.