Park Ranger Suspect

January 2, 2012 by staff 

Park Ranger SuspectPark Ranger Suspect, The suspect in the deadly shooting of a Mount Rainier National Park ranger was found dead in a ditch Monday, police said. Benjamin Colton Barnes was suspected of killing the ranger following a New Year’s Day traffic stop.

The 368-square-mile park in Washington state had been closed as dozens of officers searched for the armed gunman over snowy and rugged terrain.

Pierce County Sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said late Sunday afternoon that Barnes, a 24-year-old believed to have military experience and survivalist skills, was their “strong person of interest” in the slaying of Margaret Anderson. Authorities recovered Barnes’ vehicle, which had weapons and body armor inside, Troyer said.

Authorities believed the gunman was still in the woods with an assault rifle. They asked people to stay away from the park, and for those already inside to leave.

Troyer said there were about 100 people hunkered down in lodges and cabins on the mountain. They were told to stay put because they could be in the line of fire. Armored vehicles were being brought in to ferry them safely out of the park.

“We do have a very hot and dangerous situation,” he said.

At around 10:20 a.m. Sunday, a park service employee had unsuccessfully tried to pull a man over during a routine traffic stop.

Anderson set up a road block with her vehicle in the middle of the road, said park spokeswoman Lee Taylor. The man pulled up to Anderson about 11 a.m., jumped out, fired and ran off, she said.

Troyer said when authorities arrived they were also shot at, but no one else was hit. About 150 officers, including officials from the Washington State Patrol, U.S. Forest Service and FBI, were on the mountain. They had not made contact with the gunman and did not know where he was, Troyer said.

A military-style, armored vehicle was seen as police deployed resources into the evening.

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