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Police say man found dead at Glenwood Springs amusement park researched mass shootings, but investigators find few other answers

Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs, Colo., Oct. 2023. (Stina Sieg/CPR News)

More than three months since a man armed with guns and explosives was found dead at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, police say they still don’t know his possible motives or if he was planning an attack at the popular tourist attraction.

Park employees discovered the body of Diego Barajas Medina, 20, in a women’s bathroom on Oct. 28, 2023. Investigators said he was armed with a semi-automatic rifle and a handgun and had multiple loaded magazines and several hundred rounds of ammunition. Investigators also found multiple explosive devices near his body and discovered similar devices in his car. Medina was dressed in a military-style helmet and black tactical clothing emblazoned with patches that could give the false impression he was with law enforcement, investigators said.

Police also found a message on the bathroom wall they presume Medina had written: “I’m not a killer, I just wanted to get in the cave.”

Investigators determined that Medina died by suicide “for reasons known only to him,” the sheriff’s office said in a statement released Thursday.

In the months since the body was discovered, investigators searched Medina’s phone and computer, which showed he’d visited several websites discussing mass shootings, but the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office found no connections with criminal groups or evidence that he was working with anyone else to plan an attack. The agency also found no links between Medina and the amusement park.

Police also probed Medina’s background and medical history and found no previous run-ins with the law and no contact with mental health services. They also interviewed his family, friends, and school officials, who described Medina, who graduated from Roaring Fork High School in 2021, as “a bit of a loner.” He shared a room with his older brother, who told NBC News that Medina was a quiet person who kept to himself.

“He wouldn’t talk to any of us,” David Medina told NBC. He told the news site that his brother wanted to be a police officer, which could explain the guns and tactical clothing. “I didn’t think he was a dangerous person,” he said.

The sheriff’s office also said the firearms discovered with Barajas-Medina were “ghost guns,” unregistered and untraceable guns often assembled at home or built with parts that can be purchased legally online without a background check.

A new state law that went into effect Jan. 1, which has already drawn legal challenges from gun rights groups, outlawed assembling untraceable guns in Colorado.

Reviewing the evidence investigators collected over the past three months, the sheriff's office said Thursday that Medina could have carried out “an attack of devastating proportions,” especially given the remote location of the amusement park, which is situated high above Glenwood Springs and is difficult for first-responders to access.

“As a community, we are fortunate and thankful that this did not happen,” a sheriff’s office spokesperson said in a statement.

Editor's Note: This story contains details of self-harm. If you or someone you know is considering suicide or other acts of self-harm, please contact Colorado Crisis Services by calling 1-844-493-8255 or texting “TALK” to 38255 for free, confidential, and immediate support.



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