(ASHFORD, Wash.) — The man suspected of killing a ranger at Mount Rainier National Park in Washington state apparently has died from exposure to the elements, according to police.
Pierce County Sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said Monday night the body they had located earlier in the day face-down in the snow without any identification is Benjamin Colton Barnes, 24, the sole suspect in Sunday’s shooting.
“We found his body. His body has been recovered,” Troyer said. “He died of conditions, there’s no obvious sign of death other than being really cold on a mountain all night in freezing water.”
“He was wearing T-shirt, a pair of jeans and one tennis shoe. That was it,” he said.
Barnes was being tracked by ground and aerial search crews for the shooting death of 34-year-old ranger Margaret Anderson, who tried to block his path when Barnes sped past a checkpoint in the park Sunday morning. Barnes fired shots at Anderson and another ranger before fleeing into the park’s wilderness. The other ranger was not injured.
Shortly before the discovery of the body, police said they had been honing in on Barnes’ location by following his footprints in chest-deep snow. Authorities said he had some survival training and appeared to be moving in and out of river beds to avoid being followed. Police said they did not know whether he had enough supplies to continue outpacing them.
More than 100 agents from the National Park Service, state police, FBI and local sheriff’s departments had descended on the park to help the search efforts.
Authorities had gathered 125 campers who were in the park Sunday into a visitors center, where they were held under police watch overnight. The visitors were evacuated in the dark early Monday morning. Three small groups of hikers who were making an ascent of the mountain remained in the park.
Barnes is a military veteran who has a history of criminal violence, including threatening the mother of his child with guns during a bitter custody battle, according to court documents obtained by ABC News.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Ann O'Neill, CNN Newswire