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Tattoo a clue alleged Mt. Rainier shooter had Riverside links

January 3, 2012 | 10:11 am

Benjamin Colton BarnesThe Iraq War veteran found dead in Mt. Rainier and suspected of killing a park ranger may have ties to Riverside.

In a photo released by officials, a shirtless Benjamin Colton Barnes is seen sporting a tattoo on his stomach of a mission bell and cross -- the symbol that appears at the center of Riverside's city flag and throughout its architecture.

Barnes is accused of fleeing the scene after a shootout at a New Year's Eve party near Seattle.  Two people were wounded and two were critically injured.

He escaped to the mountains wearing a pair of jeans, a T-shirt and one shoe. When he encountered a barricade at one of the entry points to the park, authorities said he shot at the two vehicles blocking the road. Park ranger Margaret Anderson was killed.

Authorities locked down a ski resort while an intense 24-hour manhunt had 200 law enforcement officials canvassing the wilderness where Barnes was believed to be hiding. His body was discovered Monday after an aerial search; authorities said he died of exposure.

On his Facebook page, Barnes listed Riverside as his hometown. His family lives in a rural area of southwest Riverside County, between Canyon Lake and Manifee, reported the Press-Enterprise.

Barnes' former girlfriend, Nicole Santos, said the former Army private suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder stemming from his deployment in Iraq in 2007 and 2008, the newspaper reported. She also said he was suicidal.


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Photo: In a photo released by law enforcement officials, Benjamin Colton Barnes is seen bearing a number of tattoos,including one on his stomach of a mission bell and cross, which appear on Riverside's city flag and throughout its architecture. Credit: Pierce County Sheriff’s Department