Local and federal police are combing through phone records, emails, social media accounts and interviewing the family and friends of a man they say was armed with guns, bombs and body armor when he was found dead at a Glenwood Springs amusement park.
A preliminary investigation and autopsy by the Garfield County Coroner’s Office suggests the man, identified as 20-year-old Diego Barajas Medina, died by suicide. During a press conference on Monday, Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario told reporters his department and the FBI were still trying to piece together whether Medina was planning to carry out an attack but said it appeared the community had “dodged a bullet.”
The sheriff’s office said Medina’s body was found by Glenwod Caverns Adventure Park employees on the morning of Oct. 28. He was armed with several bombs, a semi-automatic rifle, a semi-automatic pistol and several magazines of ammunition. More bombs were found in his car parked nearby. Medina, who lived in nearby Carbondale, also appeared to be wearing a ballistic helmet and body armor adorned with law enforcement patches.
Officials with the sheriff’s office say early clues point to the possibility that Medina was planning an attack.
“By the same token, we have no definitive reason to believe that that was his plan,” said Garfield County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Walt Stowe. “We don’t know.”
A message written on the bathroom wall near Medina’s body adds to the mystery: “I am not a killer, I just want to get into the caves,” it said. Police have not confirmed if Medina wrote it.
In the days since his death, a rough picture of Medina's background has started to form. He graduated from Roaring Fork High School in 2021 and shared a room with his older brother in the apartment they lived in with their mother, David Medina told NBC News. David Medina described his younger brother as a quiet person who would play video games into the night.
“He wouldn’t talk to any of us,” David Medina told the network, adding that his brother wanted to be a police officer and owned guns and a tactical vest. “I didn’t think he was a dangerous person.”
Other parts of Medina’s life and his possible intentions are still unclear.
Medina wasn’t known to the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, and Stowe believes he didn’t have a criminal record with other police agencies.
If Medina had carried out a mass attack, the park’s location would have made it hard for first responders to access and evacuate the injured, Stowe said. Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, known for its rollercoasters and kids' rides, sits about 2,000 feet above the small city of Glenwood Springs and can only be accessed by a gondola or a narrow dirt road used mainly for maintenance.
Medina’s death and unanswered questions have left many residents and local police in disbelief. While there have been several high-profile mass shootings on the Front Range, there’s been nothing like that in Glenwood Springs or other parts of largely rural western Colorado. The park is in a town of only 10,000 people, surrounded by mountains and wilderness.
This is an “eye-opener,” Stowe said. “This can happen anywhere, anywhere in America.”
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