Police say heavily armed man killed himself rather than carry out attack at Colorado amusement park
Oct 30, 2023, 12:09 PM | Updated: 3:24 pm
DENVER (AP) — A heavily armed man killed himself rather than carry out an apparent plan to shoot up a mountaintop amusement park in Colorado, authorities said Monday.
The 20-year-old man was found dead at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park on Saturday morning before it opened to the public, apparently entering the park while it was closed. He was armed with an AR-style rifle, a handgun and explosives and was wearing body armor and tactical clothing, similar to what a police SWAT team member might wear, authorities said.
A message saying, “I am not a killer, I just want to get into the caves,” was written on a wall of a women’s bathroom where the man was found lying on the floor, Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario said. Nearby was a handgun and explosive devices, some real and some fake, he said.
Vallario could not say for certain that the suspect left the message.
Multiple improvised explosive devices were also found in his vehicle, police had said. Authorities searched the rest of the park for other explosives but suggested no others were found.
“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,” Vallario said.
The park would likely be crowded on a fall weekend during hunting season when people go to the mountains to see the changing autumn colors, Vallario said. And given the park’s isolated location, which visitors take a gondola to normally, it would have been difficult to get any wounded to the hospital, he said.
The man, whose name has not been released, was from the nearby town of Carbondale, where he lived with his mother and brother, Vallario said. He had no known criminal history or prior encounters with law enforcement, the sheriff said.
The weapons found on the suspect were ghost guns, which do not have serial numbers and therefore cannot be traced. The man’s clothing had patches and emblems that gave the appearance of him being associated with law enforcement.
Some of the suspected explosives turned out to be fakes — including several that looked like hand grenades — but others were real, the sheriff said. However, there was no evidence to suggest that explosive devices had been placed elsewhere inside the park, he said.
The park is located on a mountain above the Colorado River in western Colorado. Its attractions include cave tours, an alpine coaster and a pendulum swing ride perched on the edge of a cliff that sends riders over the river canyon.
Brown reported from Billings, Montana.