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Mt. Rainier National Park Ranger Shot and Killed

Posted by Lauren Braden at Jan 01, 2012 02:15 PM |
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A federal law-enforcement park ranger was shot and killed at Mount Rainier National Park earlier today. The gunman remains at large. He is on foot and armed with a long rifle.

Please see the bottom of the post for recent updates.

A federal law-enforcement park ranger was shot and killed at Mount Rainier National Park earlier today. The gunman remains at large. He is on foot and armed with a long rifle.

The ranger has been identified as 34-year-old Margaret Anderson.

At this time, the park is closed and will remain closed until further notice.

There are really no words for the sadness we feel for the loss of Margaret Anderson from this horrific shooting today. Our thoughts are with her family, friends, and the co-workers and volunteers at Mount Rainier who worked alongside her. And of course, we are all hoping this situation gets resolved quickly without further harm or loss of innocent life.

Details are just emerging and this incident is still very much in progress. The incident occurred a few miles below Paradise near Barnes Flat. According to Kevin Bacher, Mt. Rainier National Park's volunteer program manager and spokesman, a park ranger attempted to pull over a car driven by a man near Paradise Ranger Station shortly after 10am. The suspect fled in his vehicle. Then, near Barnes Flat at a roadblock that had been set up, the man opened fire and wounded Anderson. Officers were unable to reach the Anderson for about two hours because of additional gunfire.

According to the Tacoma News Tribune, Mount Rainier National Park has been closed until further notice, and the public is being urged to stay out of the area. News helicopters have been asked to not fly overhead.

Many people are still inside the park. In the Tacoma News Tribune:

Melinda Simpson, operations manager for Mount Rainier National Park guest services, reports that the Jackson Visitor Center went into lockdown at 11:30 a.m., and the National Park Inn at Longmire at 1 p.m. The Paradise Inn was already closed.Simpson said she got all the guests together in the lodge at the National Park Inn and is trying to keep the mood "rational and sane" and keep guests comfortable.She said there is a strong sheriff's department presence around Longmire.People are still out hiking and snowshoeing at Rainier. They are being asked to return to the lodge or to their cars by officers who are searching for the suspect.

Anderson is survived by a husband and two kids. Her husband is also a ranger at Mount Rainier National Park.

We will update this story as more information becomes available. Feel free to leave your comments and condolences below or on our Facebook page.

UPDATE 7:20pm 1/1/12

Mount Rainier National Park has posted on its twitter feed that the park will remain closed Monday, January 2nd, 2012.

UPDATE 6:45am 1/2/12

The Officer Down website has set up a Memorial Page for Ranger Margaret Anderson where you can leave reflections and condolences.

Also, some good news. Here is an update from Kevin Bacher at MRNP on twitter: @RainierVIPs "Visitors and VIPs escorted out safely under cover of darkness, AP reports. Thank God (and law enforcement)."

UPDATE 9:00am 1/2/12

Kevin Bacher with MRNP just spoke at a press briefing and gave us additional information.

On the mood at Mt. Rainier among staff and on Margaret Anderson:

"The mood around our headquarters this morning was somber and subdued. We're a very small staff up here, and everyone knew Margaret. She didnt have an enemy in the world, she was one of the most positive people you would ever meet, a dear friend, both here at the park and also at the community. Her kids went to the daycare run by my neighbor where my kids were in daycare when they were younger. She went to my church.

I know her family members are flying in from the east coast today and we have a family liason to find out what they need, how people can help and express their grief and their love for Margaret and her family."

Most visitors to the park have been escorted out to safety already. On the safety of visitors that are still in the park:

"There's a group of two that is camped out at the Reflection Lake area of the park. We are definitely concerned about the safety of the individuals that are out at Reflection Lake. That's why we are going out to contact them and to escort them out of the park."

Park officials know which visitor parties are still in the park because they have backcountry permits. There are also visitors that are on a summit of the mountain but those are evidently out of the area of concern.

On the search for the suspect, 24-year old Benjamin Colton Barnes:
"I wouldn't want to speculate on whether he survived the night without knowing what kind of gear he had with him. It's certainly possible to survive the night -- if he had those skills and if he had some of that gear, he could have been very comfortable last night. I think all of us are hoping that that is not the case. I don't think any of us would be sorry if he was not in a condition to fire on our searchers this morning."
"We think we have a pretty good idea of where he is hiding out in one of the canyons up at Paradise. The plans for today are that searches will be conducted both on the ground and in the air. There are about 200 people that are engaged today. I know that we have canine units as well. Our searchers are on snowshoes."

"The concern is to make sure that we know where he is and to make sure that he does not escape into an area where he could cause more harm to people."

UPDATE 11:15am, 1/2/12

The Seattle Times as well as other news outlets are reporting that the gunman is dead.

UPDATE 1/9/2012 

The National Park Foundation has established a memorial fund in honor of Margaret Anderson, who was shot and killed in the line of duty at Mount Rainier National Park. The fund is being established to benefit Anderson’s two daughters, ages 3 and 1. You can donate here.


Mt. Rainier National Park Ranger Shot and Killed

What a tragedy, I hope the gunman goes away for a very long time

Posted by:

Jeb on Jan 02, 2012 05:43 AM