Man told hostage of mass shooting plan
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Man told hostage of mass shooting plan

CHEYENNE, Wyo. A gunman killed by Yellowstone National Park rangers as he fired a semiautomatic rifle outside a crowded dining facility had told a woman he held at gunpoint that he planned to carry out a mass shooting, park officials said.

At about 8 am on the Fourth of July, a Florida man approached law enforcement rangers posted near a dining facility at Canyon Lodge in Yellowstone National Park and began firing toward the service entrance.

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Law enforcement gather July 4 outside of an employee housing unit in Yellowstone National Park’s Canyon Village.

National Park Service

The rangers returned fire, killing 28-year-old Samson Lucas Bariah Fussner of Milton, Florida, the Park Service said in a news release Tuesday. An unidentified park ranger who was wounded in “a lower extremity” during the shootout was treated at an area hospital and released. Fussner died on stage.

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At the time of the incident, the building was occupied by about 200 people. Consistent with Department of the Interior and NPS policies, the body-camera footage of the incident will be released within 30 days.

“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.”

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Law enforcement investigates July 4 outside of Canyon Village facilities in Yellowstone.

National Park Service

More than 20 Park Service law enforcement rangers, including the park’s special response team, were dispatched to Canyon Village early July 4 after a woman called 911. She told the Yellowstone dispatch center she had been held against her will by Fussner in a residence at Canyon Village.

She also reported to law enforcement officers that Fussner threatened to kill her and others, including plans to allegedly carry out a mass shooting(s) on July events outside the park,” the news release stated.

An alert was then sent out to surrounding law enforcement agencies warning them to be on the lookout for Fussner, providing a description of his vehicle. A recording of the warning was posted on Facebook.

When officers arrived at Canyon Village, they located Fussner’s vehicle, but it was unoccupied. The news release did not indicate how long the delay was between the officers’ arrival and the shootout.

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Law enforcement gather July 4 outside of an employee housing unit in Yellowstone National Park’s Canyon Village. After a shootout with park rangers, the shooter died and one ranger was injured.

National Park Service

The incident is underr investigation by the FBI, which is also providing victim/witness support to anyone involved in the incident along with the Park Service and Xanterra Parks and Resorts, a park concessionaire. Fussner was a Xanterra employee.

“We are working now to provI give maximum support to those involved and their families,” Sholly said.

NPS policy for law enforcement involved in shooting calls for them to be placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation.

Some facilities at Canyon Village were temporarily closed, including the campground. By Tuesday, the campground had been reopened along with “a limited quantity of select rooms and most remaining visitor services,” Xanterra noted on its website.

The July 4 Yellowstone shooting is the 120th officer-involved shooting in National Park Service history, according to NPS Ranger News. The first officer-involved shooting in Yellowstone came sometime between 1916 and 1920 when former Chief Scout Jim McBride was shot by a poacher, Ranger News reported.

Why mass shootings and violence increase in the summer

Violent crime is rare in Yellowstone Park. In 1997, in the Frog Rock area six miles east of Mammoth, there was a murder-suicide involving a 69-year-old Idaho mother and the shooter, her 48-year-old son. The pair had been on the lam following a check fraud and auto theft scheme, according to the Cowboy State Daily.

In 1985, near Old Faithful, a 22-year-old park employee was beaten to death by a co-worker. In 1978, in the Boiling River area north of Mammoth Hot Springs, a California 17-year-old was fatally shot by a man he was traveling with.