On New Year’s Day 2012, Mount Rainer National Park Ranger Margaret Anderson was fatally shot in the line of duty while responding to a motorist who illegally bypassed a snow chain checkpoint. Her killer, a mentally unstable young man named Benjamin Colton Barnes, fled to the park after wounding four people at a New Year’s Eve party in Seattle’s Skyway neighborhood. He was carrying a small arsenal in his vehicle when he encountered Anderson and opened fire on her patrol rig; authorities later discovered several firearms and a small stockpile of ammunition.
Despite the tragic outcome, Anderson’s interference prevented Barnes from gaining access to the more populated areas of the park, which at the time was teeming with holiday visitors; the gunman instead fled his vehicle, took refuge in the frigid wilderness and eventually succumbed to the elements without causing bodily harm to anyone else. “I’m positive she saved my life,” Mount Rainier visitor Jeremy Best told The Tacoma News-Tribune in the wake of the shooting, and numerous law enforcement officials have commended Anderson for her brave actions.
Margaret Anderson left behind a husband and two young daughters. In honor of the fallen ranger, the National Park Service created the Ranger Margaret Anderson Fund; all proceeds go directly to her family. Donation checks should be made out to the Margaret Anderson Donation Account and mailed to the following address:
Attn: The Margaret Anderson Donation Account
PO Box 159
Eatonville, WA 98328