MOUNT RAINIER, Wash. – A man who is a person of interest in the killing of a National Park Service ranger is also a suspect in a shooting at a Skyway party on New Year's Eve.
More than 150 officers - including officials from the Washington State Patrol, U.S. Forest Service and FBI - were searching for the man who shot and killed National Park Service ranger Margaret Anderson at Mount Rainier National Park on Sunday morning.
Detectives are looking for 24-year-old Benjamin Colton Barnes as their person of interest.
"We don't know much about him other than he has some weapons training and he has some pretty high-end weapons," said Ed Troyer of Pierce Co. Sheriff's Dept. "He was up here ... it looks like, by the items that were in the car, he planned on being up here, maybe even hiding out up here."
The suspect is believed to be armed with several rifles.
The shooting occurred at 10:11 a.m. near Longmire Ranger Station. A park spokesman said another ranger attempted to make a vehicle stop near Paradise and the driver fled. When the driver was stopped at a roadblock about a mile below Paradise, shots were fired and Anderson was hit.
After being shot, Anderson radioed for help as the suspect fled on foot.
It took 90 minutes for back-up to reach Anderson because the man continued shooting at law enforcement as they arrived.
King County Sheriff's deputies were searching for Barnes after an early morning shooting in Skyway. Four people were shot -- and two of them were critically wounded -- after a shootout inside a home on the 6200 block of S. 117th Place. Witnesses told investigators that several people at the party were armed and had a "show-and-tell" with their guns before an argument led to the shootout.
Barnes was one of three people who fled the scene that detectives wanted to question. The other two were located, but authorities were still searching for Barnes when the park ranger shooting took place.
The Washington State Patrol, the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office and FBI were on the scene of the Mt. Rainier National Park shooting.
Sgt. Ed Troyer said the suspect's vehicle has been secured.
"What we found is evidence of somebody that probably knows how to survive in the woods ... weapons, body armor, extra equipment,' said Sgt. Ed Troyer.
The park was closed while police searched for the suspect. Visitors at the Paradise area were put in lock down at the Jackson Visitor Center along with park staff. Armored vehicles were being brought in to transport people from the surrounding cabins out of the area.
Anderson was married with two children, ages 3 and 1. Her husband is also a ranger at Mount Rainier.
Anderson was the youngest of three children, her father, Pastor Paul Kritsch said.
He said his daughter always had an interest in wildlife and the outdoors and wanted to help people and that's what finally led her to being a federal park ranger.
“The community has lost a friend, somebody who cared about her job, cared about the people, cared about their safety, and wanted to make sure that everybody was having a safe time when they came to the park,” he said.