January 2, 2012 by staff
Margaret Anderson, A MANHUNT is under way for a former Iraq war veteran who gunned down a mother-of-two park ranger and shot four others in a separate incident. Margaret Anderson, 34, who was married to another park ranger, was gunned down on New Year’s Day after setting up a roadblock to stop a driver who had failed to pull over when flagged by other rangers in Mount Rainier National Park.
The gunman, named last night as Benjamin Colton Barnes, 24, stepped out of the vehicle and opened fire with a shotgun.
It took authorities nearly 90 minutes to get to Mrs Anderson because Barnes continued to fire an assault rifle at SWAT team officers as they tried to assist her.
Barnes fled on foot into the wilderness where officers were tracking him through the snow. Police found weapons, body armour and survivalist gear in his vehicle.
He was already wanted for the shooting of four people about eight hours earlier at a party where police said an early-morning session of “show and tell” with guns among several armed partygoers ended with a shoot-out.
Witnesses told the police Barnes was asked to leave the party earlier in the night before returning and opening fire.
Barnes is reported to be a former soldier with previous run-ins with the law. He allegedly shot Anderson with a high-powered assault rifle before fleeing into the wilderness on foot around 6.11pm (AEDT) local time.
Nighttime temperatures below -1C were expected as law enforcement officers search the expansive 953 square-kilometre national park in Washington state, south of Seattle.
A car with weapons, body armour, and survivalist gear was discovered, although it was initially unclear if that car belonged to Barnes.
Law enforcement personnel have flooded the national park, centred on the spectacular snow-capped volcanic Mount Rainier, which is south of Skyway.
Park spokeswoman Lee Taylor told CNN about 85 visitors were being sheltered in the park visitors’ centre until it was safe for them to evacuate.
The park, which had only just opened for New Year’s Day, was immediately closed after the shooting.
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