Mount Rainier National Park officials plan to take an in-depth look at the incidents surrounding the killing of ranger Margaret Anderson in hopes of preventing similar situations, park superintendent Randy King said Wednesday.
“It is a necessary part of these things so that you learn,” King said. “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 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 checking all vehicles at Longmire. After shooting Anderson, he fled into the woods and was found dead, drowned in Paradise Creek, after a 24-hour manhunt.
More than 3,700 people attended a regionally televised memorial service Tuesday for Anderson at Pacific Lutheran University. The 34-year-old mother of two girls lived in Eatonville with her husband, Eric.
King said studying the events of Anderson’s 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, said 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.”
Review boards are composed of National Park Service experts outside the region. Rainier is in the Pacific West Region.
King was chairman of the review board for the last in-the-line-of-duty shooting death of a Park Service employee. 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 avoid 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.”
Craig Hill: 253-597-8497
MORE ON MARGARET ANDERSON
• Superintendent Randy King said Mount Rainier National Park has applied to have ranger Margaret Anderson’s law enforcement badge retired, but the process was not complete in time for her memorial service Tuesday.
• Anderson’s family has not yet released information about when and where her body will be interred, according to Rainier spokeswoman Patti Wold.
• The park started charging its $15 per vehicle entry fee again Wednesday. It could not charge the fee when it reopened Saturday because so many Rainier workers took bereavement time there weren’t enough there who are authorized to handle money.
Entry to all national parks is free Jan. 14-16 in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.
Craig Hill, staff writer