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Margaret Anderson, Mt. Rainier park ranger fatally shot, had N.J. roots

andersonMargaret010212_optBY ADELE SAMMARCO
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM

The search for a gunman wanted in the fatal shooting of Margaret Anderson, a Mt. Rainier National Park Ranger, came to an end Monday afternoon. Police found the body of the suspect, Benajmin Colton Barnes, in a drainage ditch wearing only a t-shirt, jeans, and one shoe. Authorities suspect he died from hypothermia.  

Barnes was the primary suspect in the death of 34-year-old Anderson who was fatally shot Sunday morning, New Year's Day, during a routine traffic stop in the park. Police say the suspect did not respond to a request to pull over at a checkpoint, which prompted a ranger to radio for assistance. Anderson responded to that call and set up her patrol car as a roadblock.

That’s when Anderson, police say, was ambushed and shot before exiting her vehicle.

The suspect then fled into the vast national park whose border is about 50 miles southeast of Seattle.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the 368-square-mile park was placed on lockdown and remained closed Monday as about 125 visitors and 17 staff members spent half the night held-up at the Paradise visitor's center, about a mile above where Anderson was shot, after park officials determined it was too dangerous to let them leave.

Authorities say evacuations began shortly after midnight, with visitors being escorted in small groups down to a fire station near park headquarters in Ashford, Washington where they were questioned by the FBI.

Police had called the 24-year-old Barnes, an Iraq war veteran, a "strong person of interest,” who they said was armed and dangerous, and highly trained in survival skills.

On  Monday, a local Seattle television station reported that a body had been found dead within Mount Rainier National Park. Police later confirmed the identity of Barnes.

Mount Rainier National Park spokeswoman Lee Taylor told CNN there is about four to five feet of snow on the ground, including about two feet of fresh powder, where the gunman had escaped.

"There's a lot of snow on the ground, (and) it would be difficult to move through quickly," Taylor told CNN. "And it's heavily forested."

Mount Rainier’s summit elevation is 14,411 feet and is considered to be one of the most dangerous active volcanoes in the world, comprising of 235,625 acres in the Cascade Range.

Authorities say Barnes was considered a suspect in an earlier shooting that broke out at a New Years Eve party in Skyway, Washington that left four people wounded, two of them critically.

In July of 2011, the mother of Barnes’ child had alleged he suffered from post-traumatic stress following his deployments to Iraq. According to court documents, Barnes was involved in a custody dispute in Tacoma during which the mother sought a temporary restraining order against him. In an affidavit, the woman wrote that Barnes was suicidal and possibly suffered from PTSD after his deployment to Iraq in 2007-2008.

She said he was easily irritated, angry and depressed and kept an arsenal of weapons in his home, according to court records.

Police recovered the abandoned blue Pontiac registered to Barnes which contained weapons, body armor and survival gear.

It has been legal for people to take loaded firearms into Mount Rainier since 2010, when a federal law went into effect that made possession of firearms in national parks subject to state gun laws.



 
Comments (4)
4 Wednesday, 11 January 2012 10:49
Cathy Truelove
I strongly support Americans' rights to carry a weapon. I think that one of the reasons this country isn't attacked more often is because the enemy understands that American citizens are, in itself, an army. Years ago when plane hijacking was so popular, I felt that in order to stop a hijacker, every person on the plane could pull their weapon and point at the hijacker. THAT would make a hijacker think twice! I feel that there are a LOT more good people in this country than bad.
3 Tuesday, 10 January 2012 11:52
K Hudgens
In my many years of law enforcement experience, I have found that working in states where open carry and permits for law abiding and loyal armed citizens around when I was making traffic stops in the "boonies" by myself made me feel very comfortable...so I see it as a two way street. There are citizens who have had very little contact while growing up with no firearms around and I understand and sympathize with thier position. However, the climate has changed drastically with undo negative influence of youth and disturbed individuals on the internet, watching badly directed movies and exposed to abuse while growing up. That is believed to have fed a lot of negative behavior throughout the world. So you be the judge!
2 Tuesday, 03 January 2012 01:02
auggin
There is absolutely no reason for anyone, anywhere (except thoroughly screened law enforcement officials) to possess or carry firearms. It's bad enough that we even need a military. The planet does not need to nurture a mentality that in essence implies that weapons are okay. Firearms kill, period. If a person feels the need to shoot, then buy a camera. Firearms kill animals who have a right to be here just like you and me. If you want to eat animals, go to the store and purchase meat. Firearms kill people accidentally or on purpose. I understand, of course, that weapons will never go away. I am realistic. I am saying that we do not need to enact more laws that justify their use. That is what Mr. Wade is saying, just so you know. Believe it or not, there is a huge number of people in this world's population that agree with me.
1 Monday, 02 January 2012 15:53
FMCDH
It makes for a nice sound bite, but I would like to hear HOW Mr. Wade thinks the old restriction could have prevented this guy from bringing firearms in when the shooter didn't even have any worry about murdering a Park Ranger, and obviously had bigger plans in mind to commit other, highly more serious crimes. If anything, the shooters larger plans may just have been stopped by a citizen or two carrying within the park. With everyone disarmed, its far more guaranteed that the damage would have been much worse had he gotten up to the populated areas around Paradise Lodge.

Mr. Wade seems to believe that a law against carrying firearms is some sort of magic barrier to bad things happening. I wonder what other disconnects from reality Mr. Bill Wade has. Perhaps he should be evaluated for mental instability too.

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