Authorities Search Snowy Park for Rambo-like Killer
An Iraq veteran with survivalist skills escaped into the snowy woods of Mt. Rainer after killing a ranger who tried to stop him and then battling a local swat team. The shooting took place about one mile south of Paradise on the park's south side.
The Seattle Times identified the victim as Ranger Margaret Anderson and the shooter as Benjamin Colton Barnes, 24.
Anderson, mother of two children, had set up a roadblock to stop him after he was reported to have a wounded four people at a New Year’s eve party in which liquor and guns were mixed. He was being chased by another park ranger when he encountered Anderson.
The Times said the driver of the car she was trying to stop got out and shot her with a shotgun.
Body armor survivalist gear and weapons were found in Colton’s car when he fled after the nearly 90-minute gun battle.
Casings from an automatic weapon were found outside the vehicle. "He had come up here fully armed with equipment to hide out," park spokesman Ed Troyer said.
"We believe we have a good track on him. But he's way out ahead of us."
The 125 park visitors and 17 park staff were put in the Jackson Visitor center until it was safe for them to leave.
Court records show Colton is an Iraq War veteran suffering PTSD who had threatened suicide a year ago.
His estranged wife had sought to restrict access to their one-year-old child because of instances of violence.
The violence began at a party in nearby Skyway. Four people at the party were hospitalized in Seattle, two in critical condition.
“It was quite a shootout,” said King County Sheriff’s Sgt. Cindi West said. She said one of the people at what was described by media as a “show and tell” party may have returned fire.
Reports from the park visitors said Anderson, whose husband, Eric, also was a ranger at Mt. Rainier, apparently had begun to back away from the scene. Holes were visible in the windshield of the ranger who the Times said was living her dream job.
There are varying reports about the snow level in Mt. Rainer, but according to Lee Taylor, a spokeswoman for the National Weather Service, confirmed via a phone interview that levels are well below average. Lee said that, although a bit of snow may fall tonight, there are still decent amounts of snow in the park, with temperatures in the high 30s and 40s.
Update 2:10pm EST: King5 TV out of Seattle, WA, reports that the veteran's body has been found in ditch.