Mount Rainier National Park officials will take an in depth look at the incidents surrounding the killing of ranger Margaret Anderson in hopes of preventing similar situation, park superintendent Randy King said.
“There will be some kind of review,” King said. “It is a necessary part of these things so that you learn. We will look at this in detail and see if there were things that could have been done to prevent it.”
Anderson was shot on New Year’s Day by a man she had stopped after he ran through a winter tire checkpoint in the park. The shooter, Benjamin Barnes, was a suspect in a shooting earlier in the day in Skyway near Renton and apparently fled to the park.
Barnes reportedly paid the entry fee at the park’s entrance, King said, but did not stop for law enforcement rangers who were checking all vehicles at Longmire.
After shooting Anderson, he fled into the woods. He was found dead, drowned in Paradise Creek, after a 24-hour manhunt.
More than 3,700 people attended a regionally televised memorial service for Anderson at Pacific Lutheran University. Anderson was a 34-year-old mother of two girls who lived in Eatonville with her husband, Eric.
King said studying the events of her death is important.
“What you are trying to do is use the benefit of that hard-earned knowledge to help others who are also called upon to perform law enforcement,” King said. “… It is not fault finding. It is, are there things that could have been done differently.”
National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis, a former Rainier superintendent, says the agency will “do everything in our power to understand this incredible tragedy right up to the very, very minor detail so that hopefully we can prevent it in the future.”
King was the chairman for the board of review for the last NPS in the line of duty shooting death. In 2002, ranger Kris Eggle was shot and killed while pursuing members of a Mexican drug cartel at Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument near the Arizona-Mexico border.
Both King and Jarvis urged visitors not to fear visiting national parks because of Anderson’s death.
“This is a highly unusual incident,” Jarvis said. “Our national parks are incredibly safe places for the public to come and visit, bring their families.”