Ranger Shot And Killed At Mount Rainier National Park

National Park Rangers protect the public as well as the resource, and at times that requires in the ultimate sacrifice. This moving memorial to Great Smoky Mountains National Park Ranger Joseph D. Kolodski sits beside Blue Ridge Parkway headquarters in Asheville, NC. Stationed in Great Smoky, he died in 1998 "protecting visitors from harm" while responding to an incident on the southern end of the Parkway. Randy Johnson photo.

Editor's note: This updates with information that shooter fired upon other rangers to prevent them from reaching Ranger Anderson, and that nearly 100 visitors and staff are being kept inside the Jackson Memorial Visitor Center at Paradise.

A 34-year-old Mount Rainier National Park ranger was shot and killed in the line of duty Sunday as she tried to apprehend a man who fled a check stop at Paradise. Fellow rangers were prevented from reaching the downed ranger for about 90 minutes as the shooter pinned them down with gunfire.

Park spokesman Kevin Bacher said Margaret Anderson, a law enforcement ranger, was shot shortly after 10 a.m. Pacific at a roadblock set up to apprehend the unidentified man.

"He shot her, and then apparently left the vehicle, and when other law enforcment arrived, he started shooting at them, which kept them from reaching Ranger Anderson," said Lee Snook, another park information officer.

"It was about 90 minutes before they could reach her.”

Whether Ranger Anderson, who was married and had two young children, died on the scene or later at a hospital was not immediately known. Details on the shooting were sketchy.

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Ranger Margaret Anderson. NPS file photo.

While there were reports a rifle was involved, neither Mr. Bacher nor Ms. Snook could not confirm that. Nor could they say why the initial traffic stop was attempted.

"One of our rangers attempted to make a vehicle stop near Paradise, and the suspect fled in his car," Mr. Bacher said. "A roadblock was set up about a mile below Paradise, at a place called Barn Flat, and apparently shots were fired."

In Washington, D.C., Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he was "deeply saddened by the tragic, horrific and cowardly murder today at Mount Rainier National Park."

"The Department of the Interior and the National Park Service will do everything possible to bring the perpetrator of this crime to justice and to ensure the safety of park visitors and other park rangers," the secretary said in a prepared statement. "This tragedy serves as a reminder of the risks undertaken by the men and women of the National Park Service and law enforcement officers across the Department every day, and we thank them for their service. My thoughts and prayers are with Margaret's family in this difficult time."

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Numerous emergency vehicles were at the park's Longmire administrative building Sunday evening as a manhunt continued in connection with the fatal shooting of a park ranger. NPS webcam shot about 4:40 p.m. PST.

Back at Mount Rainier, possibly lending help to the search was the more than 50 inches of snow on the ground at Paradise, snow that makes it "hard to cover your tracks," Mr. Bacher said.

Aiding park rangers in the manhunt were FBI and local law enforcement personnel. Officials closed off access to the park through its Nisqually Entrance, placing roadblocks on the road that leads from Ashford, Washington, to Longmire and on to Paradise inside the park.

All other park roads have been closed by winter's snows. Visitors already at Paradise Sunday morning to cross-country ski, snowshoe, or sled were moved into the Jackson Memorial Visitor Center for their safety. Ms. Snook said about 86 visitors and 13 staff were being held there.

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Roughly 100 people were being kept inside the Jackson Memorial Visitor Center Sunday evening as a manhunt continued for a suspect wanted in connection with the killing of a park ranger. NPS image taking from webcam about 4:40 p.m. PST.

“They have food and shelter for the evening, if that’s necessary," the spokeswoman said. "We're just trying to keep them safe. Where the visitors would have to drive (to leave the park) is right by where the assailant was last seen."

Over the years more than 200 Park Service staff have died or been killed on the job. Kris Eggle, a ranger at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, was shot and killed in the line of duty in 2002 while pursuing suspected drug runners who were armed with AK-47s.

Comments

I just read that the Washington State Patrol has confirmed that the ranger died. She was Margaret Anderson, age 34, mother of two. Evidently the shooting happened around 10:30 am, but the shooter prevented responders from reaching the injured ranger until about 12:45 pm. Very sad.

Terribly sad. The news reports that the ranger, a woman with two children aged 4 and 2, died. I really hope they catch this perp and put him away for life.

Additional sad information is that the ranger has died, and been identified as Margaret Anderson.

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_MOUNT_RAINIER_SHOOTING?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2012-01-01-17-04-52

Horrible. This kind of news always makes me a bit more fearful for the
safety of all my ranger friends at some of the great parks. This kind of
thing is always such a tragedy, but it seems even more shocking when it
happens in our national parks. Nowhere is sacred anymore.

R.I.P. Ranger Anderson. Your family is in my thoughts and prayers.

very sad.....death is bad enough, but to be murdered cannot be described. it is still my strong belief that if you take someone's life on purpose you should yourself receive the death sentence. swiftly.

Excellent reporting, Kurt. Very professional: informative, dispassionate, and well written. I went to journalism school and we learned that this is how reporters are supposed to write. Keep up the good work.

According to my local news tonight (I live near Tacoma), the "person of interest" in this case was also involved in a shooting at a New Year's Eve party in Seattle, and his car was full of survival gear when he abandoned it and fled on foot after the shooting in the park.
I hope the heck they catch him soon. This is scary.
I had thought about going up to Paradise today, but decided against it. I'm glad I made the decision I did, but it's a terrible reason to feel that way.
My heart goes out to Ms. Anderson's family.

What a brave and loyal NPS ranger-medic and most importantly a Mom! I am disheartened by this event and truly concerned about justice being served to her and to the community. I can't imagine what it must be like for Mrs. Andersons family. I am also a medic, NPS volunteer and a Mom of a lil hiker. I can't imagine losing the opportunity to keep exploring. I am always fearful of what may happen many miles from medical assistance with the rugged terrain and trecherous climbs in the Great smokey Mountains but to have another person bring harm to me or to someone in this harsh environment is unthinkable.

Its been a year now since Margaret's death.

She made an immense sacrifice to protect the park's visitors. Without her, we may have seen another shooting similar to Sandy Hook.

Let's not forget her or the other folks that make our parks safe and special.