A female Rainier National Park ranger was fatally shot on New Year’s day. The 368 square mile park was closed while hundreds of officers conducted a manhunt for the gunman over the snowy, rugged terrain.
Benjamin Colton Barnes, 24, was a “strong person of interest” in the slaying of Margaret Anderson, 34, according to Pierce County sheriff’s Ed Troyer. Barnes’ vehicle was recovered with weapons and body armor inside, said Troyer. One park spokesman stated Barnes was an Iraq War vet.
Investigators determined the incident began about 10:20 a.m. when a man sped past a checkpoint. One ranger began following him, and Anderson eventually blocked the road with her car to stop the driver.
The gunman fired shots at Anderson and the ranger behind her, but only Anderson was hit. The shooter escaped on foot.
Authorities were following tracks in the snow and planned to bring in an airplane with heat-seeking capabilities. “We believe we have a good track on him, but he’s way ahead of us,” they said Sunday evening. “We do not know what resources the shooter has. We’re not sure what we’re up against. We know that he has a weapon, but we don’t know how many.”
Park Supt. Randy King reported Anderson had two young daughters and a husband who was working as a ranger elsewhere in the park at the time of the shooting. “It’s just a huge tragedy — for the family, the park and the park service,” he said.
In nature, the cardinal unforgivable sin is ‘stupidity’. The ancient Greeks observed even the gods cannot protect a foot from their folly.
“Hey you!–OUTA the gene pool!!” -M. Nature-
Reminiscent of the fatal shooting of an Olympic National Park Ranger a couple of years ago when an officer, a young mother, was shot trying to corner a desperate man for a petty infraction (expired tabs), hundreds of deputies are conducting a dragnet in response to the New Year’s day homicide. Ranier National Park has been closed to visitors and those present have been asked to leave during the manhunt.
In the earlier corollary, a man recently divorced, harassed by his ex-wife and mother-in-law, who’d had nary a parking ticket in his life as a logger, broke down when confronted by a young female ranger over expired tabs (and no driver’s license due to falling behind in child support after his ex-wife had bankrupted his company in divorce proceedings presided over by Mason County Superior Court Commissioner Adamson) while he vainly attempted to flee to the remotest spot he knew at a trail-head in the furthest reaches of the Park in order to heal from the psychological wounds inflicted upon him. He broke down and killed the ranger, then later a civilian before police cornered him in a Port Angeles quickie-mart gas station parking lot, gunning him down in the parking lot in front of surveillance camera footage posted on Youtube the same day. The fact he was a genuinely likable guy doesn’t excuse what he did in his last hours on this earthly coil in the throes of a mental breakdown.
But was it worth either of these women’s lives to be put at such great risk cornering a fugitive (unknown to them) in such a manner over the pettiest of infractions? Radical reformation of National Park policies must be undertaken to better balance enforcement with the lives and safety of Park employees and the public. One should not be engaging in warlike tactics over a parking ticket or a checkpoint trespass.