Man’s suicide at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park puzzles investigators

Who was Diego Barajas-Medina?

Diego Barajas-Medina was a 20-year-old Colorado man who graduated from Roaring Fork High School in Carbondale in 2021. He lived with his mother and brother and was described by friends and family as a “bit of a loner”. He had no prior engagements with law enforcement and no contact with mental health services. He wanted to be a police officer, which could explain his interest in guns and tactical equipment.

What did he do at the park?

On Oct. 28, 2023, Barajas-Medina illegally entered the Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, a popular tourist attraction in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, with two guns, ammunition, and explosives. He broke into the women’s restroom and took his own life. He wrote on the restroom wall, “I’m not a killer, I just wanted to get in the cave.” He was wearing black tactical clothing with patches and emblems that gave the appearance of being associated with law enforcement, body armor, and a ballistic helmet. He had a semi-automatic rifle and a semi-automatic handgun with multiple loaded magazines for each weapon and several hundred rounds of ammunition. He also had multiple improvised explosive devices (IEDs) on or near him. Similar devices were found in his car, which was parked on the premises.

How did the authorities respond?

Park employees discovered his body just before the opening of the park. They alerted the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, which launched an investigation. The Grand Junction Bomb Squad was called to help with the investigation. The bomb squad, along with the Garfield County All Hazards Response Team, made a sweep of the entire park to make sure no other devices were present. The park was closed for two days during the sweep. The sheriff’s office also searched Barajas-Medina’s phone and computer, which showed he visited several websites discussing mass shootings. Toxicology reports showed no traces of alcohol or other illegal drugs in his system.

Glenwood Caverns Adventure park

What was his motive?

The motive behind Barajas-Medina’s actions remains a mystery. The sheriff’s office said they found no connections with criminal groups or evidence that he was working with anyone else to plan an attack. They also found no links between Barajas-Medina and the amusement park. They said he died by suicide “for reasons known only to him.” They also said the firearms discovered with Barajas-Medina were “ghost guns,” unregistered and untraceable guns often assembled at home or built with parts that can be purchased legally online without a background check. A new state law that went into effect Jan. 1, 2024, outlawed assembling untraceable guns in Colorado.

What is the impact of this incident?

This incident has raised questions and concerns about the security and safety of the park and its visitors. The park’s owner, Steve Beckley, said he was shocked and saddened by the incident and thanked the authorities for their swift and professional response. He said the park has implemented additional security measures, such as metal detectors and bag checks, to prevent similar incidents in the future. He also said the park has offered counseling and support to its staff and guests who were affected by the incident. He said the park’s mission is to provide a fun and family-friendly experience for everyone and that he hopes the incident will not deter people from visiting the park.

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