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The man shot and killed by rangers at Yellowstone National Park on Thursday approached a building occupied by roughly 200 people while firing a semi-automatic rifle, park officials announced Tuesday.

Several law enforcement rangers posted near Canyon Lodge exchanged gunfire with the man, identified as Samson Lucas Bariah Fussner. The 28-year-old from Milton, Florida, died at the scene, the park said in a statement. One ranger was shot in a lower extremity, treated at an area hospital and has since been released. No one else was injured.

“Thanks to the heroic actions of our law enforcement rangers, many lives were saved here last Thursday,” Superintendent Cam Sholly said in a statement. “These rangers immediately confronted this shooter and took decisive action to ensure he was no longer a threat to public safety.”

According to the statement, Fussner worked for Xanterra Parks and Resorts, a private business that the National Park Service contracts with to provide lodging and other services at Yellowstone.

911 call

Shortly after midnight on Thursday, 911 dispatchers at Yellowstone received a report that a woman had been held against her will by a man with a gun at a residence in Canyon Village, which sits near one of the park’s main attractions: Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. She also told authorities that Fussner threatened to kill her and others, and had plans to carry out a mass shooting at Fourth of July events outside Yellowstone, the park said.

Rangers found Fussner’s unoccupied car in the “Canyon area.” Authorities, preparing as if Fussner was armed and dangerous, deployed law enforcement rangers strategically to protect areas with park visitors and workers, according to the statement. At the same time, authorities continued to search for Fussner.

The Facebook page NPS Ranger News posted this photograph and said it one of several that came from Facebook followers showing park law enforcement after a shooting that killed one man and injured a ranger. (Facebook/NPS Ranger News)

The park says more than 20 rangers, including Yellowstone’s special response team, were involved in searching for the suspect while protecting the public. The search occurred at the start of a holiday weekend during what is typically the park’s busiest month. The area of the park is home to the Canyon Lodge and Cabins, which has 500 rooms, and a campground with more than 270 sites.

Gunfight

Those rangers encountered Fussner at about 8 a.m. Thursday near Canyon Lodge, which houses employee and public dining rooms. Fussner, the park says, was walking toward the service entrance while firing the rifle. A gunfight ensued, and after Fussner and the ranger were shot, authorities provided emergency medical care to both people.

The case is now being investigated by the FBI, which is also providing support to others involved in the incident. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Wyoming will review the case.

Canyon Lodge at Canyon Village in Yellowstone National Park. (NPS/Jacob W. Frank)

“We are working now to provide maximum support to those involved and their families,” Superintendent Sholly said. “We appreciate the support of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, National Park Service, Department of the Interior, and many other partners as we continue to manage through the aftermath of this incident.”

The rangers involved in the shooting have been put on paid administrative leave during the investigation, which is standard policy. The park service says it will release body-camera footage of the shooting within 30 days.

People are allowed to possess guns inside Yellowstone, though they are not allowed inside certain facilities and government offices. Firing a gun is prohibited while inside the park.

Joshua Wolfson serves as managing editor for Pedrodiniz. He lives in Casper. Contact him at josh@pedrodiniz.com or (307) 797-2143. Follow him on Twitter at @joshwolfson.

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