The toddler killed Saturday by a gunshot in Yellowstone National Park was identified Monday as Ella Marie Tucker, of Pocatello, Idaho, but exact details of the shooting remained withheld by park officials.
A five-paragraph release from the park said that while rangers were alerted to the incident by a woman at the Grant Village Campground who called 911 to report her daughter had "just shot herself with a handgun," it added that rangers and Park Service special agents "continue to investigate the circumstances surrounding the Saturday morning incident."
The 3-year-old's death was the first gun-related fatality of a Yellowstone visitor in 35 years. In 1978, a 17-year-old California man was shot by a traveling companion following an argument in Boiling River just north of Mammoth Hot Springs.
According to park historian Lee Whittlesey, James Lee Hamar was shot in the back shortly after 7 p.m. on June 10, 1978. He managed to stumble out of the river and into the road. Rangers took him to the park clinic, where he died, Mr. Whittlesey wrote in his book, Death in Yellowstone, Accidents and Foolhardiness in the First National Park.
Prior to that, in 1938 the 13-year-old son of the park's master mechanic accidentally shot himself in the head with a rifle and died, according to park records.
The most recent shooting death in the National Park System occurred January 1, 2012, at Mount Rainier National Park when a law enforcement ranger was gunned down by a man on the run. Margaret Anderson, a 34-year-old law enforcement ranger, was shot and killed when she tried to intercept the man as he fled a routine checkpoint where park visitors were supposed to stop to see if they had chains for their tires.
Her killer was later found dead in the park's backcountry.