Mount Rainier National Park reopens; recordings of initial reports of gunfire released

ShootingsBenjamin Colton BarnesNational ParksIraq War (2003-2011)

Mount Rainier National Park reopened to the public Saturday morning, six days after a park ranger was killed by a gunman and authorities closed the recreational area. On Friday, ranger and police audio recordings were released of the initial reports of gunfire.

Ranger Margaret Anderson, 34, a mother of two young daughters, died of gunshot wounds New Year’s Day as she tried to stop a car that had sped past a park checkpoint. The driver, Benjamin Barnes, 24, an ex-soldier and Iraq war veteran, opened fire on Anderson, killing her in her SUV.

Park ranger and police audio recordings were released Friday of the first moments the shooting began.

“I need district calls,” a recording says. “Mount Rainier is calling. They had a felony stop, shots fired. Officer down at the Longmire entrance to the park.”

“We are hearing multiple gunfire...”

“You are hearing gunfire, you said?”

Later, one says, “It’s about 6 miles up. You will notice everybody up there. We have not been able to approach the ranger that’s still down.”

“How many shots did you hear up there?”

“Just a couple.”

After about 90 minutes, a recording says, “We have her.”

“You’ve got the ranger?”

“Contact, it does appear she didn’t survive.”

After the shooting, Barnes fled into the woods, sparking a police and multiagency manhunt in the snowy woods for the gunman. It was suspended at nightfall, but Barnes’ body was found the next day, on Monday; he had drowned in a creek.

The park was closed to the public afterward to give employees and families time to grieve

The park was scheduled to reopen Saturday at 8 a.m. The News Tribune of Tacoma said the snow-play area at Paradise will remain closed until further notice, however.

A memorial service for Anderson is scheduled for 1 p.m. Tuesday at Pacific Lutheran University in Parkland, near Tacoma.

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