Iowa principal dies after trying to protect students during high school mass shooting

The family of Dan Marburger, the Perry High School principal shot during a mass shooting earlier this month, announced he has succumbed to his injuries.

The attack carried out by a 17-year-old student happened around 7:30 a.m. at the high school on Jan. 4. Eleven-year-old Ahmir Jolliff was also killed in the shooting. Six others were wounded but are recovering.

Marburger was called a hero by many in the days after the shooting. He put himself in harm’s way so students could try to escape from the teenage shooter who opened fire in the cafeteria as students were gathering for breakfast before class, the Associated Press reported.

The state Department of Public Safety said Marburger “acted selflessly and placed himself in harm’s way in an apparent effort to protect his students.”

News of his passing is attributed to a post on a GoFundMe page by his wife Elizabeth Sunday morning, saying he passed away, 10 days after the shooting, at 8 a.m. Sunday. Friends of the Marburger family are hoping to raise $100,000.

As of Sunday morning, they had reached nearly 70% of that goal. Marburger was a long-time fixture at Perry Community Schools, where his daughter Claire is also an educator.

In a statement Sunday, Gov. Kim Reynolds said “Our entire state is devastated by the news of Dan Marburger’s death. Kevin and I offer our deepest condolences to his wife and family as we pray for their comfort during this very difficult time. Dan courageously put himself in harm’s way to protect his students, and ultimately gave his own life to save them. He will forever be remembered for his selfless and heroic actions. May he rest in peace.”

Republican Presidential Candidate Asa Hutchinson said “America lost a hero today. I know all of Iowa is suffering because Dan Marburger died from his sacrificial effort to protect his students. He worked everyday to improve the lives of his students and on that day, he literally saved the lives of students. This is a day to remember a great man and do what we can to help a community get through their pain and loss.”

“I join all Iowans in mourning the loss of Perry High School Principal Dan Marburger. No one should ever have to give their life to save children from a rampage in a school—a sacrifice Principal Marburger ultimately made,” State Auditor Rob Sand said. “Dan Marburger’s courageous actions at Perry High School on the morning of January 4, 2024, saved lives and ensured the safety of many of his students form harm’s way. Thank God for Dan Marburger, and may he rest in peace. Please keep Dan’s family and community in your prayers at this time.”

Gov. Reynolds ordered all flags in Iowa to be lowered to half-staff on Sunday and remain at half-staff until sunset on the day of Mr. Marburger’s funeral and internment.