NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A man who allegedly shot and killed a Washington state park ranger, who grew up in New Jersey, died, officials said Monday.
Police said 24-year-old Benjamin Colton Barnes, an Iraq War veteran, opened fire on Mount Rainier National Park ranger Margaret Anderson, 34, late New Year’s morning, killing her.
Barnes apparently could not survive the wrath of Mother Nature. Searchers discovered Barnes’ body in a remote area of the park, where he was found chest deep in snow, wearing only jeans and a t-shirt.
“The condition he was in and the clothes he had on him, he was not equipped make it a night or two in the winter,” said Pierce County Sheriff Spokesman Ed Troyer. “He appears to have not been a victim of any type of violence other than the weather.”
Police said after blowing through a checkpoint for tire chains — which are sometimes necessary in snowy conditions — Barnes shot and killed Anderson, who grew up in Westfield, N.J. Barnes then apparently escaped into the heavily wooded park.
The 34-year-old married mother of two had set up a road block to stop Barnes from entering the national park, when he opened fire on her. Badly injured, Anderson reportedly called for help, but Barnes, who police say may have suffered from post traumatic stress, fired at the ranger’s backup for 90 minutes. By the time they reached Anderson, it was too late, CBS 2′s Hazel Sanchez reported.
“There’s nothing she could have done. That guy had some high-powered weapons. Nobody was going to win that gun fight,” Troyer said.
Authorities believe Barnes had fled to the park following an earlier shooting at a house party near Seattle that left four people injured.
“It feels so odd,” ranger Kevin Bacher said. “We have never had an incident like this at Mount Rainier National Park. It is rare to have an incident like this in a national park at all.”
About 120 park visitors were put in a basement for protection during the manhunt.
Anderson, who went to Westfield High School, is the daughter of Paul Kritsch – the pastor of Redeemer Luther Church.
“She was the best daughter you could ever ask for, a wonderful mother and wife,” Kritsch, of Scotch Plains, N.J., told 1010 WINS. “We were very proud of her. She always did her job to the best of her ability and was well-respected by the people who worked with her.”
Anderson became a park ranger for the National Park Service in 2000.
Anderson is survived by her husband, who is also a park ranger, and their two young daughters, ages 4 and 2.
Police say Anderson was armed, but was shot before she could get out of her car. She had two young daughters and was married to another Rainier ranger, who was also working at the park at the time of the shooting.