Police believe a man armed with guns, loaded magazines and bombs whose body was found inside a woman’s restroom at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park over the weekend had fatally shot himself.
The body of the 20-year-old, who was wearing black tactical gear, was discovered by the maintenance crew worker before the park opened Saturday, Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario said Monday afternoon during a virtual news conference.
The man, who was identified Monday evening by the coroner as Diego Barajas Medina of Carbondale, was armed with an AR-15 and semi-automatic handgun, along with multiple, loaded magazines for both weapons.
“When I first saw this, it was definitely a realization that this type of danger has come to quiet Glenwood Springs, Colorado — rural Colorado, rural America,” Vallario said. “And fortunately for whatever reason we may never know — although he was very highly prepared, very highly weaponized — he chose not to take advantage of any of that.”
Investigators found “I am not a killer, I just wanted to get into the caves” written in large letters on the bathroom wall in a stall near where Medina’s body was found, the sheriff said.
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On the bathroom counter, authorities found a law enforcement-style duty belt holding several magazines with an AR-15 placed on top of the belt, Vallario said.
Medina, who was wearing body armor and what appeared to be a ballistic helmet, was found lying on the ground. Pipe bombs were on the floor near his body. Fake hand grenades were clipped to his belt.
“It certainly could have caused a devastating impact on this community, potential for many, many people to be killed or injured,” Vallario said. “And again, for whatever reason that we may never know, he chose not to take that path and certainly we’re all breathing a sigh of relief from that.”
It would have been very challenging to get first responders to the park, which can attract hundreds of people on any given Saturday in the fall, Vallario said. The adventure park is located high on a mountain above downtown Glenwood Springs and requires a gondola to access.
Authorities said they believe Medina entered the park illegally when none of the park staff were present. The Garfield County coroner is conducting a death investigation. The FBI is also assisting in the investigation.
Investigators are interviewing family and friends to try to better understand a possible motive for Medina’s actions, Vallario said. A graduate of Roaring Fork High School, Medina lived with his mother and brother.
His AR-15 and handgun were both ghost guns, which are untraceable and can be made at home with 3-D printers and are untraceable, Vallario said.
Ghost guns have played a role in recent high-profile shootings in Colorado, including the November 2022 attack on Club Q in Colorado Springs and a shooting in March at East High School, where two administrators were shot.
“We got lucky. Our community didn’t, this time, have to suffer through like other communities have,” Vallario said. “But, again, … we want to find out why. We want to dive into this and see what we can do to prevent these things from happening in the future.”
The sheriff’s office originally said Medina was 22.
Police found several explosive devices, fake and real, with him and in his car. A bomb squad and members of Garfield County All Hazard Response Team made sure no other bombs were planted in the park.
Investigators searched Medina’s home and swept the adventure park “in a slow and methodical manner” for two days before determining that it was safe to reopen.
The sheriff’s office said that Medina’s activities appear to have been isolated to Glenwood Caverns’ property.
Though the park is now safe, the sheriff warned the public to remain vigilant and report suspicious behavior.
“We don’t need to be terrified, we don’t need to be afraid to do anything,” the sheriff said. “We just need to be vigilant, try to keep our eyes out and be aware of our surroundings.”
UPDATE: This story was updated at 4:22 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 30, 2023, with details following a news conference with Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario.