Glenwood Caverns, in Garfield County, Colo., escaped disaster Saturday, Oct. 28, after a man outfitted to commit mass murder was instead found dead in a women’s bathroom, the result of an apparent suicide. Next to the victim were guns, ammunition, and bombs. The incident reinforces the notion that mass killings can take place anywhere crowds gather in the U.S.—including adventure parks.
Maintenance crews came across the body of Diego Barajas Medina as they were preparing to open the park on Saturday morning.
The Garfield County Sheriff’s office said that Medina was wearing tactical clothing similar to that used by SWAT teams. He had a rifle, pistol, ammunition, and pipe bombs on him, and police found several explosive devices in his vehicle as well.
It appeared that Medina accessed the park by driving up an access road; Glenwood Caverns is located on a mountaintop and only accessible to the public by gondola.
Given the number of weapons Medina possessed along with the park’s relatively remote location, “We had the potential for something heinous and gruesome to happen in this community and we were fortunate that it did not occur,” said Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario.
He noted that police did not know specifically what Medina planned to do; he left a puzzling note on the bathroom wall that said, “I am not a killer. I just wanted to get into the caves.”
According to the sheriff, there were no warning signs that Medina would become violent, and he had no criminal history. The initial investigation has not revealed any motive for his actions, Vallario said.
Glenwood Caverns was closed for three days as investigators swept the park looking for additional weapons and explosives. In a statement, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park general manager Nancy Heard said, “We appreciate the swift action and thorough work of the Garfield County Sherriff’s Department and Coroner’s Office, as well as the Garfield County All Hazard Response Team and other authorities assisting in the investigation, working together to ensure the park is safe to reopen.”