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Home National & State Parks Other NPs Benjamin Colton Barnes, Suspect In Ranger Killing, Found Dead On Mount Rainier

Benjamin Colton Barnes, Suspect In Ranger Killing, Found Dead On Mount Rainier

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UPDATE: Mount Rainier National Park will reopen to the public on Saturday, Jan. 7, at 8 a.m. according to a posting on the park's Website. The sledding hill will not be open this weekend.

Park rangers and staff on Tuesday spent the day grieving the loss of one of their own, Park Ranger Margaret Anderson, who was fatally shot New Year's Day.

Plans for a memorial service for Ranger Anderson to be held next week are underway with the date to be determined. A fund is being set up for the family.

ORIGINAL STORY: The manhunt on Mount Rainier for the person who fatally shot Park Ranger Margaret Anderson on Jan. 1, 2012 ended on Monday as SWAT team members recovered the body of Benjamin Colton Barnes, the suspect in the shooting.

Mount Rainier National Park will remain closed at least through Tuesday, Jan. 3, a park ranger told OldWestNewWest.com Travel & History Magazine.

mount_rainier"We're not sure yet when the park will reopen to the public," the ranger said Monday night.

A search aircraft flying over the rugged wilderness terrain late morning on Monday spotted a body lying face down in the snow in the vicinity of Narada Falls. It took several hours before snowshoe-wearing SWAT teams and dogs could reach the body and confirm the identity as that of 24-year-old Barnes.

The actual cause of death is still under investigation, but a park official said Barnes' body was found clothed only in a T-shirt, jeans and one sneaker. The snow in the area in which Barnes was found was chest deep, and temperatures at night were well below freezing.

"We want to thank the local, state, and federal agencies that assisted in the effort to apprehend Margaret Anderson's killer," said Park Superintendent Randy King. "It brings tremendous relief and great comfort to know the park is once again safe. We will now work towards reopening the park."

Approximately 200 personnel were involved in search operations on Monday.

King went on to say, "Our thoughts and condolences are with Margaret's family and their tragic loss."

margaret_andersonAn investigation into the incident is being led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation with National Park Service rangers and Pierce County Sheriff's Department assisting. The NPS Western Incident Management Team is en route to the park to assist with planning a memorial service for Ranger Anderson and with ongoing park needs.

Ranger Anderson, 34, had worked at Mount Rainier National Park for three years. She is survived by her husband Eric, also a ranger in the park, and two young children.

On the morning of Jan. 1 Ranger Anderson had set up a traffic block to intercept a vehicle that had failed to stop at a chain-up checkpoint. Barnes allegedly opened fire on Ranger Anderson, killing her, then fled on foot into the snowy woods.

Barnes, a former U.S. Army private who had served in Iraq, also was a suspect in a separate New Year's Day shooting incident. That shooting injured three men and a woman. According to the King County Sheriff's Department, the shooting reportedly took place at a house party near Renton, Wash.

Mount Rainier National Park has been closed during the hunt for the gunman, with the park evacuating park visitors to get them out of potential danger.

There were 125 visitors in lock down at the Paradise Visitor Center from Sunday noon until 3:30 a.m. Monday. They were escorted out of the park in small groups of five vehicles, escorted by law enforcement officers.

There were also 25 visitors at the National Park Inn at Longmire who were evacuated out of the park. Visitors had been held at these locations for their own safety.

Agencies participating in the search effort include Pierce County Sheriff's Department, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Tacoma Police Department, Washington State Patrol, Customs & Border Patrol, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Forest Service, Pierce County Fire Districts, Lewis County Sheriff's Department, Enumclaw PD, Portland PD, Seattle PD, Snohomish PD, National Park Service rangers, and law enforcement officers from other jurisdictions as well. Resources included K-9 Units, armored vehicles, helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft.


Mount Rainier National Park is open all year. The park was established on March 2, 1899, reaffirming the nation's intent to set aside certain areas of outstanding scenic and scientific value for the enjoyment of present and future generations. It is America's fifth oldest national park, after Yellowstone (established in 1872), and Yosemite, General Grant (now part of Kings Canyon), and Sequoia (all established in 1890).

Mount Rainier National Park encompasses 235,625 acres or 368 square miles. Of that amount, 228,480 acres (97 percent of the park) has been designated by Congress as Wilderness. The park's National Historic Landmark District includes 2.7 percent of the park. The park has over 260 miles of maintained trails and 147 miles of roads.

Generally, 1.5 - 2 million persons visit Mount Rainier each year, In 2010, the park had 1,731,913 visitors.

More information on visiting the park is available at Mount Rainier's Web site,
www.nps.gov/mora .

 
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