High school hostages were sexually assaulted
Shooting victim identified as 16-year-old junior
Barry Gutierrez © News

Dirk Allie, 15, left, a home-school student, and Shawn Swigert, 15, second from left, a sophomore at Platte Canyon High School, pray the rosary with Colorado Springs Bishop Michael Sheridan at Saint Mary of the Rockies Catholic Church in Bailey. A gunman who held six female students hostage at a Bailey high school sexually assaulted some of them during the standoff. The girl shot to death during the standoff has been identified as 16-year-old Emily Keyes.
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.

Emily Keyes, 16, was shot during the standoff. She died at about 4:30 p.m. after undergoing emergency surgery.

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.

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