The body of Mount Rainier National Park ranger Margaret Anderson was carried into Olson Auditorium at Pacific Lutheran University around 11:30 a.m. today, following a procession from a Lakewood funeral home to the Parkland university campus. Thousands of community members, park rangers and law enforcement personnel have turned out to pay tribute to Anderson.
The procession carrying Anderson's body left Mountain View Funeral Home around 9:30 this morning and began arriving at Pacific Lutheran University at 10 a.m. After a private service for family at Trinity Lutheran Church, a second procession took Anderson's body from the church to Olson Auditorium at Pacific Lutheran University.
About 1,500 people are gathered outside the auditorium, where the memorial service is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m.
Scores of police and fire vehicles followed the hearse carrying Anderson's body to PLU.
More than a dozen people stood at the intersection South Steele Street and 112th Street South.
Among them was Bill Harrington. The Graham resident took time from watching three litters of Old English Sheep Dog puppies to pay his respects.
“I just wanted to honor the service and life of the the lady, without knowing her,” he said. “This is the days she’s going to be (honored) and she shouldn’t be alone.”
Living in a rural area, Harrington said the loss of an officer like Anderson touches everyone.
“It’s like losing a neighbor,” he said. “These are real people, someone’s wife, husband, mom or dad.”
About a dozen people lined the streets near Trinity Lutheran Church in Parkland. As the procession arrived, the church's bells began to chime.
Teresa Weydirt put her hand on her heart as the white hearse carrying Anderson's body passed along C Street.
"I'm here to pay my respects," said Weydirt, who lives in Parkland. "It hurts. Maybe partly because she was a mom and I'm a mom. She was doing her job. She probably saved a lot of people up there. Who knows what that guy would've done.
"The mountain has a special meaning to all of us," Weydirt said. "And the fact that someone was up there desecrating it makes it worse in a way."
The hearse brought Anderson's body to Trinity Lutheran Church for the private memorial service for her family. Park rangers served as pall bearers. The crowd gathered at the church saluted as her body was brought in.
While the hearse stayed at the church, the rest of the procession continued on to Olson Auditorium. The procession includes vehicles from the National Park Service, local first responders and other agencies from around the region.
Anderson, a law enforcement ranger, was shot and killed New Year’s Day when she tried to stop the vehicle driven by Benjamin Barnes after he drove through a tire chain checkpoint. Barnes, also a suspect in the shooting of four people in Skyway early on Jan. 1, was found dead the next day. He had drown in Paradise Creek.
The memorial service for the 34-year-old mother of two is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. today at Olson Auditorium.
Uniformed Park Service employees are expected to create a cordon of honor lining the walkways to the auditorium prior to the service.
The National Park Service is asking the general public to watch the memorial via a live feed to be shown at Rainier View Christian Church, 12305 Spanaway Loop Road, Tacoma.
News Tribune staff writers Jeffrey P. Mayor and Craig Hill are blogging from Parkland. Craig Hill is providing updates from inside Olson Auditorium here, and Jeff Mayor is telling the story from the procession route and Rainier View Christian Church here.