Man Armed With Explosives Found Dead at Popular Theme Park

in Theme Parks

Guest ride a roller coaster with mountains in the background

Credit: Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

A heavily armed male was reportedly found dead following an incident at a theme park last week.

While theme parks are designed to give you a thrill, this generally comes with the caveat of making this thrill as safe as possible. Roller coasters as intense as VelociCoaster at Universal Orlando Resort and Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind at Walt Disney World go through vigorous testing routines to make sure guests are totally secure throughout the entire experience.

Guests ride Universal Orlando Resort's VelociCoaster
Credit: Universal Studios

Related: Teenager Killed as Wind Flings Guests 180 Feet From Theme Park Ride

Aside from rides, theme parks take other measures to ensure the safety of parkgoers. All of Disney’s theme parks require guests to undergo a bag search to ensure dangerous items are not brought into the parks. Walt Disney World hotel housekeeping also conducts mandatory daily room checks. Some parks, including Disneyland and Universal Studios, even use metal detectors for an added level of security.

Although it’s rare for anything to slip through the cracks, sometimes incidents do happen. In July, a guest shared their experience of their neighbor allegedly dying from a self-inflicted gunshot wound at Disney’s Old Key West Resort. Back in the 1990s, three security guards were also held at gunpoint by an EPCOT guest demanding to see his ex-girlfriend, who worked at the park.

Spaceship Earth at EPCOT inside Walt Disney World Resort
Credit: Disney

In 2022, another deadly incident took place at Universal Studios Hollywood. A male guest died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound near the then-new Despicable Me: Minion Mayhem attraction. And earlier this summer, a shooting occurred on the grounds of Ohio State Fair.

Now, a similar incident appears to have occurred at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. According to a statement from the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office, a 20-year-old man man – named as Diego Barajas Medina – was found dead in a women’s restroom when park operators arrived on Saturday morning before opening.

The man was reportedly wearing body armor and a helmet, and was armed with a semi-automatic rifle, a semi-automatic pistol, and multiple improvised explosive devices (IEDs). It’s thought that he illegally snuck into the park via a service road after hours.

Guests ride roller coaster at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park
Credit: Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

Related: Oktoberfest Roller Coaster Accident Leaves 8 Injured

“On October 29, 2023 at approximately 4:30 p.m., the scene was deemed safe and the coroner’s office was able to recover the decedent,” said Garfield County Sheriff’s Office. “It is important to realize that given the amount of weaponry, ammunition, and explosive devices found, the suspect could have implemented attack of devastating proportions upon our community, and first responders.”

The local bomb squad and the Garfield County All Hazard Response Team were called to the amusement park, where they carried out controlled detonations of the IEDs. They also conducted a “slow, methodical” search of the property to locate any additional explosives.

A statement from Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park confirmed that the death is being treated as a suicide. During a press conference, Garfield County Sheriff Lou Vallario said that Medina had left a note on the wall next to him that read, “I am not a killer, I just wanted to get into the caves.”

Guest ride a roller coaster with mountains in the background
Credit: Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park

Related: Roller Coaster Returns, One Year After Horror Accident Left Woman With Brain Damage

Medina’s house was later searched and law enforcement are currently working with his mother and brother to establish an explanation for his behavior.

“Although he was very highly prepared, very highly weaponized, he chose not to take advantage of any of that, whatever his preparation was. He chose instead, as we believe at this point, to commit suicide,” said Vallario. “We are, to say the least, extremely lucky that he did not fulfill whatever plan he may have intentioned. It could have caused … a devastating impact on his community, potential for many, many people to be killed and injured. And again, for whatever reason that we may never know, he chose not to take that path. And certainly we all breathe a sigh of relief from that.”

First opened in 1999, Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park sits 7,100 ft high on a mountain above Glenwood Springs, 160 miles west of Denver. Today it’s home to three roller coasters – Alpine Coaster, Cliffhanger, and Defiance – as well as an array of family-friendly attractions. Guests can also enjoy tours of the area’s caverns, including the Historic Fairy Caves Tour, Kings Row Tour, and the Wild Cave Tours.

The amusement park is currently closed and will reopen to guests on November 9, 2023.

Have you ever experienced a scary theme park incident? Share your story with Inside the Magic in the comments!

Comments Off on Man Armed With Explosives Found Dead at Popular Theme Park