Benjamin Colton Barnes, 24, is a “strong” suspect in the death of Margaret Anderson, a Mt. Ranier Park Ranger, and in the woundings of three other Rangers, as well as wounding four people early on New Years Day at a party in “Skyway,” Seattle. Barnes is an Iraq veteran, diagnosed with PTSS and is believed to be heavily armed and wearing body armor. See UPDATES below.
Latest UPDATE 1-4-12 @1:40 pm CDT: Read my latest on the details of how and where Barnes was found and his troubled life before entering the U.S. Army.
UPDATE 1-2-12 @ 6:40 pm CDT: A Park Ranger was just on Fox News saying there is no sign of a violent ending for Barnes. They think he died of exposure in the chest-deep snow. Still no confirmation, but there is confirmation that he did not die of a bullet wound.
UPDATE 1-2-12 @ 1:o5 pm CDT: Fox News is reporting that Barnes was found dead in Mt. Ranier Park, according to a television station in the area, but stresses that police have not confirmed the report. UPDATE 1-2-12 @ 5:20 pm CDT: OregonLive confirms that Barnes was found dead in chest-high snow. I still haven’t found confirmation of suicide. He was found “hours from where authorities could get to him.”
At the Skyway party, Barnes was reportedly asked to leave and apparently did so, but came back later and shot four. Two are in critical condition. All are in their 20’s:
Witnesses told investigators that several people at the party were armed and had a “show-and-tell” with their guns,” said Sgt. Cindi West of the King County Sheriff’s Office. There was an argument over a gun, which led to the shootout.
Many shots were fired. Detectives could not say how many people were shooting or who started the shooting, West said.
Barnes’ family was already working with police to try to get him to come forward before the shooting of Park Ranger Margaret Anderson.
KOMO is also reporting Barnes is the person of interest in the shooting death of Ranger Margaret Anderson. The shooting occurred before 10:30 Sunday when another park service employee had unsuccessfully tried to pull the man over during a routine traffic stop. Anderson set up a road block with her vehicle in the middle of the road, said park spokeswoman Lee Taylor. The man pulled up to Anderson about 11 a.m., jumped out, fired and ran off, she said.
Another account says Barnes pulled “alongside” Anderson and gunned her down. Mt. Ranier Park was evacuated and Barnes is still on the run. He also fired at an arriving SWAT team and fled on foot. In is car, other weapons were found along with survival gear and the assault rifle used to kill Anderson.
Nicole Santos, Barnes’ daughter’s mother, sought a restraining order against him in July. Santos says he suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome and is angry and depressed.
Ranger Margaret Anderson was 34-year-old and the mother of two. She is described as “a person with a quick smile, a very gentle person, a very competent ranger.” Her husband is also a Park Ranger at Mt. Ranier National Park, which is still on lockdown this morning.
UPDATE: 11:09 am CDT: Fox is reporting that helicopters are not being used in the Park to hunt Barnes because they believe he might show the copter down. They believe he is “dug-in.”