Yellowstone National Park gunman held woman against her will and planned to carry out July 4th mass shooting, authorities say

Jul 9, 2024, 10:01 PM

Entrance sign at Yellowstone National Park. (NPS)...

Entrance sign at Yellowstone National Park. (NPS)


CNN — The gunman who opened fire in Yellowstone National Park last week, leaving one ranger injured, had held a woman against her will and said he planned to carry out a mass shooting at July 4th events outside the park, authorities say.

The shooter, identified as 28-year-old Samson Lucas Bariah Fussner, died after an exchange of gunfire with law enforcement, the US National Park Service said in a news release Tuesday. The injured park ranger was flown to a nearby regional hospital in stable condition and has since been released, according to the agency.

The shooting happened at Canyon Village, a cluster of lodges and cabins inside the park, north of Yellowstone Lake and away from the park’s busiest tourist areas.

Yellowstone’s 911 dispatch center received a call just after midnight on July 4 reporting that a woman had been held against her will by an armed man in a residence at the village, the park service said.

The woman also told law enforcement rangers Fussner “threatened to kill her and others, including plans to allegedly carry out a mass shooting(s) at July 4th events outside the park,” according to the release.

Rangers found the suspect’s vehicle unoccupied in the Canyon area and determined he was likely armed and dangerous, the release said.

“With the individual at large, law enforcement rangers were strategically deployed to protect areas with park visitors and employees while searching for Fussner, and the park’s 911 dispatch center notified surrounding jurisdictions,” according to the National Park Service.

By the early morning hours that day, more than 20 rangers were searching for Fussner and working to protect people in the park, the agency said.

At around 8 a.m., rangers stationed near the Canyon Lodge dining facility located Fussner as he walked toward the service entrance while firing a semi-automatic rifle, according to the release. Roughly 200 people were inside the building as several rangers exchanged gunfire with Fussner, who was shot and died at the scene, authorities said.

Fussner – of Milton, Florida – was employed by Xanterra Parks and Resorts, a private business authorized to operate in Yellowstone, the release stated.

The FBI is leading the investigation into the incident, the park service said, and will be reviewed by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Wyoming. The park service is also working with the FBI to offer victim and witness support.

The law enforcement rangers who were involved in the shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave while the incident is investigated, in accordance with park service policy, the agency said. Body-worn camera footage of the shooting will also be released within 30 days, it said.

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

“We are working now to provide maximum support to those involved and their families.”

The-CNN-Wire™ & © 2024 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

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Yellowstone National Park gunman held woman against her will and planned to carry out July 4th mass shooting, authorities say