Mount Rainier National Park Ranger Margaret Anderson gunned down

So much for “Happy New Year”… an Iraq war veteran goes nuts, shoots up Seattle before murdering Mount Rainier National Park Ranger and mother of two, Margaret Anderson.

The facts are somewhat sketchy, but what is known is this:

A park service employee tried pulling over the alleged shooter for a routine traffic stop.  That person refused to stop.

margaret-anderson Margaret Anderson blocked the road up ahead, forcing the man to come to a stop.  He jumped out of his vehicle and fired a shot or shots at Anderson, killing her before she was even able to get out of her vehicle.

January 1, 2012 was Park Ranger Margaret Anderson‘s last day alive.

The man ran off into the woods as police from across Pierce County converged on the site to find the killer.

An Associated Press report stated that a 24-year-old Iraq war veteran named Benjamin Colton Barnes was responsible for a shooting near Seattle that caused Seattle SWAT to launch a manhunt for him.  He then fled to Washington's Mount Rainier National Park for reasons we will never know.

As is usually the case with shooters like this, early reports are that Barnes had a lot of persona problems, and was estranged from his wife and child.  The young mother filed for a restraining order against Barnes because of his erratic behaviour, and her belief that he was suicidal and suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Margaret Anderson, 34 at the time she was so senselessly murdered, leaves behind her husband, Eric Anderson and their two daughters, aged 1 and 3.

Anna, the oldest daughter, will turn 4 on Valentine’s Day.  Her younger sister Katie will turn 2 in May.

Those birthdays will not be very happy ones, I’m sure, as the two girls learn how to live with the loss of their mother.

As can be expected, Eric Anderson is completely distraught.  He is also a Park Ranger and works in the same park as his wife did.  He was on duty elsewhere in the park at the time his wife was murdered.

The Andersons are a deeply religious family; Margaret’s father, Reverend Paul Kritsch is a Lutheran Minister in Scotch Plains, New Jersey. He too is attempting to come to terms with the loss of his daughter.

"As you can well imagine, it doesn't seem real," he said.

The Seattle Times has an excellent article on the Andersons, who were said to be “living their dream” of working in the same park as they raised their family in the small town of Eatonville, Washington.

Margaret Anderson and her husband, Eric, were living their dream, finally working as U.S. park rangers in the same national park while raising a young family, their relatives said Sunday.

"They had been looking for that for a long time, to be in the same park," Margaret Anderson's father, the Rev. Paul Kritsch, said in a telephone interview.

Little girls shouldn't have to grow up without their mother, but sometimes very bad things happen to very good people.  This is clearly one of those times.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the entire Anderson family as they seek some way of coping with the untimely and unwarranted death of Margaret.

To the residents of Eatonville, WA, I want to thank you all in advance for doing everything you can to help Eric Anderson and his two daughters through this incredibly difficult time.  He’s going to need all of your support in the days and weeks ahead, to be sure.

This is such a sad story on so many levels… and shows the failure of our society to take care, not only of our law enforcement officers here at home, but the brave men and women who serve in our Armed Forces.  Clearly much more needs to be done to help those returning from war deal with the aftermath of what they’ve endured overseas.

Normally I have little sympathy for the murderer when I’m writing about slain law enforcement personnel, but this time I think we as a society failed miserably at helping someone who sacrificed a lot on our collective behalf.

That doesn’t stop me from wishing that, even in the depths of whatever hell on earth some folks go through, people like this Iraq war veteran would just leave the rest of us out of it when they feel the need to end their own lives.

"We're going to miss her terribly and already are and can't believe she is gone," Margaret’s father, Reverend Paul Kritsch said.

4 thoughts on “Mount Rainier National Park Ranger Margaret Anderson gunned down

  1. I am sorry to hear of the death of anyone. Could it be that the Ranger used a method of stopping the defendant which sparked the issue? I have always been suspect when I hear of a Parks person, game warden, or other similarly employed person, doing the work of a Peace Officer. Are these people equipped for what can be a deadly business? I have been stopped on two ocassions by once a game warden, and once a highway truck scale officer, for what they deemed to be driving infractions. In both cases the judges threw out the claims as RCMP officers couldn’t agree with the arresting people. In both cases the people who stopped me were aggressive, threatening and abusive. In both cases I was thinking of driving away, or getting out of my car and spanking them! This idea of people in these positions carrying guns is enough to make anyone nervous and upset!

  2. Hi Kenneth,

    No, this is not a case of the dead Park Ranger being in the wrong. She was doing exactly as she was trained to do, and was a peace officer, not just a park ranger.

    From what I can discover, all she did was block the road with her vehicle. The murderer drove up to her, got out and shot her dead before she’d even exited her vehicle.

    While there are lots of cases like yours were aggressive and uninformed government employees think they have powers they do not, this just doesn’t look like one of those cases.

    Now, the person who initially tried stopping him in the park… that’s another story. I believe that individual was NOT a peace officer, but regardless, this guy was going to kill someone no matter what… it just happened to be a young woman with two small children who got in his way and paid the ultimate price for it.

  3. Thank for that!! Certainly not the first time I’ve been wrong, although I did miss the part of the Ranger not being the first party involved!
    The military, both U.S and Cdn seems to have a problem regarding mental problems of returned vets, don’t they? Why? I see nothing wrong with volunteers entering the Forces, but I wonder sometimes if they actually volunteered to serve their country in such a manner that they may have learn to shoot to kill and be shot at by someone who doesn’t use a rule book and is prepared to give up their life for the “cause” whatever it is?
    In Canada’s case it has been many, many years since our forces were in an all out shooting war, I question who is teaching these volunteers how to fight mean, dirty, nasty, and win at all cost? As a country we have launched these volunteers with pathetic equipment and I would hope not pathetic training, but where are the instructors coming from???
    I feel we should be involved in the World, but in real time, not Korean or peace time. Maybe we should kidnap a few Taliban and learn about WAR 2012????
    Boot me off if I changed the subject on you!!

    1. Having known a number of men currently serving and recently servded, I believe our troops are very well trained for the job at hand. It is a Canadian, after all, who holds the world record for longest shot to kill not one, but two targets. :)

      The issue is not, at least as I see it, that our troops are not trained effectively, for I believe they are. The issue is that they have not been supported by our government or the people of Canada as a whole.

      I’ve proudly displayed my “Support Our Troops” sticker on my vehicle for many years. I’ve had to replace it more times than I can count, especially when working on downtown Vancouver, where I’m generally considered lower than an east-side drug dealer or pimp.

      The men and women of our Armed Forces deserve our support. If we don’t want them fighting wars in far-off lands, then we need to deal with that at the political level here at home. That being said, there are times, both as individuals and as nations, that we cannot simply stand idly by and allow horror to go on.

      That’s precisely what we did in Rwanda, for example, and we paid a high price for that inaction and cowardice. Romeo Dallaire, the man in charge of the fiasco of “following orders” from the United Nations was rewarded for his cowardice with a Senate seat… ostensibly so he can whine and snivel his way to his deathbed, while sucking from the government teet upn until the day he dies.

      If he didn’t want to feel like such a coward, perhaps he should have ignored the orders from the United Nations and done the right thing: stop the genocide.

      But I think we’ve digressed a very long way from the point of my original article, which was to

      a) express my sincere condolences to the Anderson family for the loss of their mother, wife and daughter, and
      b) to put forward the notion that we need to do a lot more for our men and women returning from the battles abroad.

      We don’t have to agree with why they were sent abroad, but we should have to deal with them compassionately when they return.

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