US ‘ranger killer’ dies of cold

2012-01-03 07:18

Washington – An armed Iraq War veteran suspected of killing a Mount Rainier National Park ranger managed to evade snowshoe-wearing Swat teams and dogs on his trail for nearly a day.

He couldn’t, however, escape the cold.

A plane searching the remote wilderness for Benjamin Colton Barnes (24) yesterday discovered his body lying partially submerged in a mountain creek lined by deep snow and rugged terrain hours from where authorities could get to him.

“He was wearing T-shirt, a pair of jeans and one tennis shoe. That was it,” Pierce County Sheriff’s spokesperson Ed Troyer said.

Barnes did not have any external wounds and appeared to have died due to the elements, he said. A medical examiner was at the scene to determine the cause of death.

Troyer said two weapons were recovered, but he declined to say where they were located.

According to police and court documents, Barnes had a troubled transition to civilian life, with accusations in a child custody dispute that he suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder following his Iraq deployments and was suicidal.

Barnes was believed to have fled to the remote park on Sunday to hide after an earlier shooting at a New Year’s house party near Seattle that wounded four, two critically.

Authorities suspect he then fatally shot ranger Margaret Anderson.

Immediately after the park shooting, police cleared out Mount Rainier of visitors and mounted a manhunt.

Fear that tourists could be caught in the crossfire in a shootout with Barnes, who had survivalist training, prompted officials to hold more than a 100 people at the visitors’ centre before evacuating them in the middle of the night.

The mother of his toddler daughter sought a temporary restraining order against him, according to court documents.

She alleged that he got easily irritated, angry and depressed and kept an arsenal of weapons in his home.

The woman told authorities Barnes was suicidal and possibly suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder after deploying to Iraq in 2007-2008, and had once sent her a text message saying “I want to die”.

Late yesterday, police said Barnes was a suspect in a shooting incident.

On New Year’s Day, there was an argument at a house party in Skyway, south of Seattle, and gunfire erupted, police said.

Barnes was connected to the shooting, said Sergeant Cindi West, King County Sheriff’s spokesperson.

Police believed Barnes headed to the remote park wilderness to “hide out” following the Skyway shooting.

“The speculation is that he may have come up here, specifically for that reason, to get away,” parks spokesperson Kevin Bacher told reporters early yesterday.

“The speculation is he threw some stuff in the car and headed up here to hide out.”

Anderson had set up a roadblock on Sunday morning to stop a man who had blown through a checkpoint rangers used to check if vehicles have tyre chains for winter conditions.

A gunman opened fire on her before she was able to exit her vehicle, authorities say.

Park superintendent Randy King said Anderson, a 34-year-old mother of two young girls who was married to another Rainier ranger, had served as a park ranger for about four years.

King said Anderson’s husband also was working as a ranger elsewhere in the park at the time of the shooting.


Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.