By Nick Provenza, The Seattle Times –
SEATTLE — A man was found dead in Mount Rainier National Park this morning and he is believed to be the suspect in the shooting death of park ranger Margaret Anderson Sunday morning, according to law enforcement sources.
Sources say the body, believed to be that of Benjamin Colton Barnes, was found about 10:20 a.m., but other details, including where exactly the body was found, weren’t immediately available. Authorities coordinating the search for Barnes had said they believed him to be in the Paradise area of the park.
Barnes is suspected in the fatal shooting of park ranger Margaret Anderson in the park about 10:30 a.m. Sunday morning after she set up a roadblock to stop a car that was fleeing another officer.
Anderson apparently was in her car when she was hit by a bullet that pierced the door of her vehicle, park spokesman Kevin Bacher said. It’s not believed she had time to draw her weapon.
Some 200 searchers, led by the FBI, were working in steep terrain to find Barnes, who had to make his way through chest-deep snow. He didn’t have snowshoes, Bacher said, but the searchers did.
Barnes’s initial contact with rangers was at a checkpoint where those entering the park are asked if they have proper tires and tire chains for their vehicles, Bacher said.
Barnes blew through that checkpoint, so rangers put out the call to look out for him, Bacher said.
When Barnes saw Anderson’s car, he stopped, got out and fired at her car. Meanwhile, the ranger pursuing Barnes’s car pulled up a distance behind and Barnes turned and fired, shooting out the windows of that car, which was driven by ranger Dan Camiccia. He was not injured.
“We have never had an incident like that at Mount Rainier National Park,” Bacher said.
This is the first slaying of a ranger in the park, although rangers have died on the mountain itself.
“Our rangers are very much in shock this morning … we absolutely take it personally. Everybody knew Margaret,” Bacher said. “Everybody was friends with Margaret. She didn’t have an enemy in the world,” he said.