Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Park gunman 'died from the cold'

Benjamin Barnes was found dead after a park ranger was shot dead (AP)
Park ranger Margaret Anderson was shot dead on Sunday (AP)
Washington State Patrol troopers at an entrance to Mount Rainier National Park (AP)

An armed Iraq War veteran suspected of killing a park ranger after a gun rampage evaded snowshoe-wearing SWAT teams and dogs for nearly a day - but could not escape the cold.

A plane searching the remote wilderness of Washington's Mount Rainier National Park for Benjamin Barnes, 24, discovered his body partially submerged in an icy mountain creek with snow banks standing several feet high on either side.

"He was wearing a T-shirt, a pair of jeans and one tennis shoe. That was it," Pierce County Sheriff's spokesman Ed Troyer said.

Barnes did not have any external wounds and appeared to have died from the elements, he said. Mr Troyer said two weapons were recovered.

Barnes is believed to have fled to the remote park on Sunday to hide after an earlier shooting at a new year party near Seattle that wounded four, two critically. Authorities suspect he then shot dead ranger Margaret Anderson at a roadblock.

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

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

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.

The mother of his toddler daughter sought a temporary restraining order against him, according to court documents. She said he was easily irritated, angry and depressed and kept an arsenal of weapons in his home, and she wrote that she feared for the child's safety.

Undated photos provided by police showed a shirtless, tattooed Barnes brandishing two large weapons.

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