In downtown Perry, Iowa, on Friday, residents wore blue to support each other, reflecting the school district’s mascot, the blue jay.
A Catholic priest offered grief counseling to shaken residents. The public library set up a “sympathy card” station to make cards for Dan Marburger, the principal of Perry High School and one of the victims of the school shooting on Thursday that claimed the life of a sixth grader.
Local residents spent much of Friday absorbing the violent act that had occurred just as school had resumed from winter break. The authorities said that a student, Dylan Butler, 17, had shot Mr. Marburger and five students, killing one student, identified on Friday as Ahmir Jolliff. The gunman died from a self-inflicted gunshot, the police said.
To the people of Perry, a town of 8,000 about 40 miles northwest of Des Moines, the shooting struck an unusually intimate, painful chord. Neither the victims of the shooting nor the gunman were strangers: Mr. Marburger was a well-known figure in town, a friendly, outgoing educator — his daughter referred to him as a “gentle giant” — who cared deeply for his students.
Mr. Butler was described as a little odd by people who knew him, but not the kind of person they would suspect of violence. He was the son of Jack Butler, manager of the Perry Municipal Airport and the city’s former public works director, someone who Perry residents said was an active and generous member of the community.
“That’s pretty hard for a lot of people in town, just knowing them and like, we can’t possibly believe that that happened,” said David Sheffer, owner of the Tin Pig Tavern in Perry.
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