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Mt. Rainier: A somber reopening in wake of fatal shooting

January 7, 2012 |  5:39 pm

Mt. Rainier

Mt. Rainier National Park reopened to the public Saturday, six days after an Iraq war veteran shot and killed a park ranger there, triggering a massive manhunt.

Park rangers wore black bands across their badges; entry to the park was free; and a flag at the ranger's kiosk flew at half-staff. A small memorial for the slain ranger sprang up at the kiosk as visitors trickled back into the park, the Associated Press reported. 

 “We're here to take back the mountain today,” said park spokeswoman Lee Snook, according to the AP.

Margaret Anderson, a 34-year-old mother of two, was killed New Year's Day after being called to establish a roadblock for a man who had blown through a safety checkpoint at the park. She was joined by another park ranger, Dan Camiccia.

Authorities believe Benjamin Colton Barnes, 24, approached the roadblock, stopped and opened fired on the rangers. Anderson was fatally wounded; the other ranger was unharmed.

Barnes, who authorities believe was trying to evade capture after a shootout at a New Year’s Eve party, fled the scene, triggering a massive manhunt and evacuation of the park. Some park visitors, on a camping trip deep in the woods, were alerted to the search by a coffee cup dropped from a hovering helicopter.

Ultimately, Barnes was found dead at the bottom of a snowy slope the next day with two weapons he had apparently used in the shooting.

A memorial service for Anderson is planned for Tuesday in Tacoma.


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-- Stephen Ceasar

Photo: Mt. Rainier National Park Ranger Judy Scavone hands park information to visitors at the Nisqually entrance Saturday morning, as the park opened for the first time since the Jan. 1 shooting death of ranger Margaret Anderson. Credit: Elaine Thompson/Associated Press