A sixth-grade student slain during a mass shooting at a rural Iowa high school has been identified as 11-year-old Ahmir Jolliff, officials said Friday.
Jolliff was shot three times during the “horrific” Thursday bloodbath at Perry High School on the first day back from winter break, the Iowa Department of Public Safety said in a release.
Jolliff, a student at Perry Middle School, was one of eight shot at the combined high school and middle school 40 miles northwest of Des Moines.
Three staff members and four other pupils “received wounds of injuries of varying degree,” the state DPS said.
The suspected shooter — 17-year-old Dylan Butler, a student at the high school — died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, authorities said.
Jolliff, who was known as “Smiley” at home, had been so excited about returning to school after the holidays that he left three minutes before his mom and sister, a ninth-grader, according to his mother, Erica Joliff.
The tuba-playing youngster, who loved soccer and sang in the choir, kept a box of toys for his fellow neighborhood kids on the family’s front porch, she added.
“He was so well-loved and he loved everyone. He’s such an outgoing person.”
Perry High School Principal Dan Marburger, who valiantly tried to protect his students, remains in critical condition, according to the agency.
The educator had tried to calm down and “distract” the school shooter so that other students could escape, his daughter has claimed.
“The investigation thus far confirms Principal Marburger acted selflessly and placed himself in harm’s way in an apparent effort to protect his students,” Iowa DPS said.
Because of his selfless actions, the Uvalde Foundation For Kids, a national nonprofit organization formed in response to the May 2022 school massacre in Uvalde, Texas, announced Saturday morning that it started an emergency fund to assist with Marburger’s medical bills.
The organization is also honoring the principal with its “Heroism Award.”
Two other students remain hospitalized while the other victims have since been treated and released, DPS said.
Gunman Butler allegedly endured years of relentless bullying that had recently engulfed his sister in the leadup to his violent rampage at his rural Iowa high school Thursday, community members said.
The 17-year-old was armed with a pump-action shotgun, a small-caliber handgun and a makeshift explosive device when he opened fire at Perry High School at 7:47 a.m., police said.
Butler fatally shot Jolliff and injured five others, including his principal, Marburger, before turning the gun on himself.
Butler had plans to kill many more — his body was found with the not-yet-detonated improvised explosive device, which cops described as “pretty rudimentary.”
The teenager is believed to have acted alone, though his motive remains unclear.
“The investigation is ongoing. Investigators have seized large volumes of digital and social media evidence that will take time to review. Background investigations, as well as eyewitness accounts and victim interviews, are continuing,” the Iowa DPS said.
The agency said the Division of Criminal Investigation’s report will be submitted to the Dallas County Attorney’s Office “to determine what additional course of action, if any, should be undertaken.”
Butler posted a cryptic video to his since-deleted social media in the moments before the harrowing rampage on the small-town campus.
In the TikTok video, Butler posed in a bathroom stall at the school with a blue duffle bag at his feet along with the caption: “now we wait.”
The group “changetheref” — which was formed to “empower our future leaders” — posted Jolliff’s picture on Instagram, noting, the boy “will be forever 11 years old, because he went to school and a madman with a weapon murdered him in cold blood.”
With Post wires