January 3, 2012 by staff
Ranger Shot, The suspect in a fatal shooting at Mount Rainier was found dead today in the national park. Yesterday, park ranger Margaret Anderson was shot and killed there. Margaret grew up in Wilton, Conn. for part of her childhood and her husband Eric, also a ranger at Rainier, is a native of Hanson, Massachusetts, where his family still lives. And where his mother and some friends are trying to cope with unimaginable sorrow.
The Anderson family of four, picking out a Christmas tree together just a few weeks ago.
Margaret Anderson in front of the tree on Christmas Eve with her two young daughters, Anna, almost 4, and her little sister, 1 and a half year old Katie.
Just eight days later, sorrow for the family.
Margaret, 34, a ranger at Mt. Rainier, in Washington state, was gunned down at a checkpoint New Year’s morning, as she attempted to stop a man from driving into a snow covered section of the park without chains on his tires.
The suspect, 24-year-old Benjamin Colton Barnes, an Iraq War veteran, who family say suffered from post traumatic stress disorder, PTSD, was found dead in the park one day later, after more than 100 people were evacuated from Rainier.
Barnes was wanted in a New Year’s Eve shooting of four people in Skyway, a Seattle suburb.
A survivalist, authorities say he fled the scene and headed for Rainier.
“The chaplain called us and told us that she was gone. Oh it’s unbelievable,” said mother-in-law Cindy Anderson.
Margaret’s husband Eric Anderson is also a ranger at Rainier.
He grew up in Hanson, Mass. and was a 1997 graduate of Whitman-Hanson High School.
His parents still live in town, and we spoke with his mother Cindy by phone where she shared with us the unimaginable, her son having to tell his two young daughters about their mother’s death.
“He told the girls yesterday. And the baby doesn’t understand and the older one, she almost seems like she understands. It’s heartbreaking,” Cindy Anderson said.
Neighbor and family friend Mike O’Connell says he grieves for the entire Anderson family.
“I couldn’t think of anything worse. I don’t know how they’re getting through it. It’s a tough situation so God bless them,” O’Connell said.
The national park is still closed.
When we think of park rangers, we think more of rescues in bad weather and from falls on trails.
But this was a law enforcement job and Cindy Anderson says her son and daughter-in-law were not naïve about that in spite of the beauty of the mountains.
The Anderson family will head from Massachusetts to Washington later this week.
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