ABC News’ Katti Gray reports:
It took Washington state authorities more than an hour to arrive at the scene of a fatal New Year’s Day shooting of a Mount Rainier National Park ranger because of icy road conditions and spotty cell phone service, according to newly released 911 tapes obtained by local media.
Ranger Margaret Anderson, 34, was shot dead while trying to stop a vehicle that bypassed a checkpoint where rangers determine whether autos are equipped with chains for winter driving.
The initial emergency call was made by another ranger who said the suspect was armed, according to KING-TV in Seattle, Wash.
“We’ve got a shooting incident up at Mount Rainier National Park at Paradise. We tried to do a felony stop and we’ve got one individual armed with a rifle,” the caller said.
The dispatcher asked for a description of the alleged shooter but the caller was unable to provide it because the suspect “wouldn’t stop.”
The suspect, Benjamin Colton Barnes, froze to death when, after the shooting, he fled on foot and waded through chest-high snow, police said.
Barnes, clad in a T-shirt, jeans and one shoe, was found Jan. 2 face-down in snow, with a handgun and rifle nearby. Hypothermia and drowning caused his death, an autopsy showed.
Police said Barnes, who was 24, had been involved in an earlier shooting of four people at a New Year’s party in Skyway, south of Seattle, ABC News’ Seattle affiliate KOMO reported.
Popular among hikers, mountain-climbers and others, Mount Rainier receives 1.5 million visitors each year.
The 368 square-mile park reopened today, though certain sections were off-limits to visitors because of wintry weather.
Park officials are designating an area where mourners can bring flowers to salute Anderson.
A memorial service for Anderson is set for 1 p.m. Tuesday at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, park officials said.