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Local News
Posted: Friday, 29 September 2006 3:01PM

Colorado Gunman Said Sent Letter Warning of Death

BAILEY, Colo. (AP)  -- The gunman who took six girls hostage in a high school standoff that ended in his suicide had sent his brother a long, rambling letter warning of his impending death, investigators said Friday.

The 14-page letter from Duane Morrison was postmarked Wednesday in nearby Shawnee - the same day of the attack.

Morrison claimed in the letter that it was not a suicide note, Sheriff Fred Wegener said.

"However, many times, the letter references suicide," Wegener said. "This letter clearly acknowledges his pending death. It also apologizes to his family for his actions that will occur."
 
The letter contains no reference to Platte Canyon High or any other school, nor is there a time reference, authorities said, leaving investigators with no known connection between the gunman and this mountain town of about 3,500 people 35 miles from Denver.

Morrison, 53, sexually molested all six girls before SWAT teams stormed the classroom, the sheriff said. During a gun battle with police, Morrison shot 16-year-old Emily Keyes to death and then killed himself.

The letter "doesn't tell me a lot of why," the sheriff said, but it does suggest "he probably intended to kill both the young ladies and then kill himself, or have us shoot him."

Investigators identified Morrison was a petty criminal who had a Denver address but apparently had been living in his battered Jeep. They also traced the handgun used in the shooting to Morrison's brother.

One of the hostages, Lynna Long, told the Rocky Mountain News that she was groped above the waist but believes Emily "got it worse." Lynna said that she was afraid to look, "but you could hear Emily saying, `No. Please don't.'"

The newspaper said Lynna and her mother had agreed to allow Lynna to be identified by name.

Lynna said all the girls had been told to stand facing a wall, and she could not see what Morrison was doing, but she knew the other girls were being molested because "you could hear the rustling of clothes and elastic being snapped and zippers being opened and closed."

Authorities say they knew of no connection between Morrison and the hostages he held for four hours after bursting into a college prep English class.

The sheriff said Morrison had approached a male high school student on the day of the attack and "asked about the identity of a list of female students." Wegener said he was not sure if it was a written list or names rattled off by Morrison.

It was not disclosed whether the list included the girl who was killed.

Video from cameras outside the school showed Morrison sitting in his Jeep in the parking lot for about 20 minutes and then mingling with students as classes changed, nearly 35 minutes before the siege began, KCNC-TV in Denver reported.

Classes were canceled for the rest of the week as the community tried to come to grips with the bloodshed, which evoked memories of the 1999 shooting rampage that left 15 dead at Columbine High School, less than an hour's drive away.


Copyright 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
 
 
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