Suspected Gunman Dead Following Fatal Shooting Of New Jersey Park Ranger In Washington

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.”

Click here to read more from our sister station in Seattle

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.

  • A "Going Postal" Worker

    My heart goes out to Ms. Anderson’s family – be strong, be strong, and may the lord comfort you in this terrible time! You are in my prayers.

    As for this Barnes guy – not sure who we should thank more – Cheney, Wolfowitz, Feith and other ba***rds whose blunt lies led simpletons into believing that Iraq was a threat (when Saddam had really been the main factor containing Iran), leading us into a useless, years-long Iraq war, where some veterans have gone “nuts” from spending WAY too much time in war zones, OR THE NRA and their dim-witted, NASCAR-loving, country-western supporters, who obtusely see background checks for the “criminally insane” as an infringement on their 2nd amendment rights.

    • NoMoreReligiousZealots

      This incident has nothing to do with an illegal or legal war. It has nothing to do with the former administration or the present one. This Barnes character was one of those “survivalist people” before he was in the military. He shot that poor woman because he didn’t want to go to prison for the incident the night before. This has nothing to do with post traumatic stress. You are right about Iraq. Saddam kept those people in line. Iran was always the one we should of unleashed our weapons of mass destruction on.

  • Divine Justice

    He could run but he couldn’t hide.

  • harry

    This is truly a sad situation, but i think that since this young soldier was exposed to so much death and destruction from an illegal war in Iraq that his mind was completely overloaded with violence that he just lost touch with rationality.i feel so sorry for our human race because we have become so inhuman toward each other. i ‘m sorry for both families ……my god bless them.

    • Amtracmarine

      He was exposed to “so much death and destruction”?? How do you know that he even saw combat?? His mind was overloaded by the violence?? Please,
      the guy flipped out at a New Years Eve party,maybe he was drunk and stoned out of his “F’in” mind. Illegal war??? Are you saying that if it were a “Legal War” he would have been fine???

      • A "Going Postal" Worker

        Wait a minute – Harry has a point.

        The Neocons screwed the country – but they screwed our veterans the most. What about the guy in Long Island (Mr. Laffer?) who robbed a pharmacy and kllled a bunch of people?

        I have friends that are Iraq war veterans – they have been INSANELY over-deployed. Then they come back home, and no one will hire them. What a travesty.

        Harry – the human race is stupid. Period! It’s a wonder we haven’t destroyed ourselves yet. The Iraq War was a side-show of both tradedy and STUPIDITY – look at the chronology – 9/11 > Iran offered us use of its air space (the same Iran that almost went to war with the Taliban) > Iranian president Khatami was a moderate, and was reaching out to the west > Bush ’43s IMBECILE “Axis of Evil” Speech in 2002 > We invade Iraq (had “0” to do with 9/11) in 2003 > years-long war with thousands dead/maimed on both sides > Iran’s moderates lose power and a FREAKO (Akhmidinejad) comes into power > while the Neocons tied us up with their Iraq stupidity (f**k you, Wolfowitz), Iran has had the chance to develop nukes. Kind of hilarious how the far right now try to blame “all of the above” on Obama (by the way, I am Republican).

        • Amtracmarine

          Harry has no point and neither do you. What does Laffer have to do with this story?? Laffer wasn’t even a combat Vet.He was an avid Islander fan, do you want to blame pro sports??

          • A "Going Postal" Worker

            Really – maybe YOU need to re-check your facts. Happy New Year, and enjoy your time, down at the rifle range.

            • Amtracmarine

              People that accuse people of not having facts are always Jokes.I would never have said that he wasn’t acombat vet if I hadn’t researched it first.Laffer served in the Army from 1994 until 2002 and attained the rank of private first class, said Mark Edwards, a spokesman for the U.S. Army Human Resources Command in Fort Knox. While in the service, he worked as an intelligence analyst.Oh,by the way,I don’t own a gun as*-hole.

              • Amtracmarine

                Another thing,anyone in combat would have been more than an E2 after serving 7yrs.

  • Bullett

    As a Viet Vet, I believe in supporting all of our military personal, but we need to do more, when some return home with PTSD. Just a sad ending to two young lives, and now two broken family’s, and many broken hearts.

    • Lieut Dan's Aunt

      first, thanks for your service. several friends & a cousin served during vietnam. a nephew had 2 iraq tours. we have managed to come forward some steps in identifying and treating ptsd. debriefing on return home is short and not enough follow-up.afterwards. there is reluctance to ask for help because of the stigma that continues to be associated with counselling. you have earned all the resources you need after your service. for your own well being and your families, do ask, do tell. the shame is on us when we do not recognize someone hurting.

  • karen

    rest in peace ms anderson. my condolences to your family and friends. more needless violence. 2 very young children left to grow up without their mother. people with guns kill people. we must learn to stop the madness, and if it means tighter regulations on the “right” to bear arms, so be it. the weapons such as this woman’s murderer possessed are not for responsible sports hunters. get responsible people.

    • Michael H.

      People with cars kill people. People with hammers kill people. People with knives kill people. People with pencils can kill people. People with HANDS kill people. Let’s outlaw those too!

      You can make that same sentence with nearly any object. Outlawing firearms never has been and never will be the answer, Karen.

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