Mt. Rainier New Year's shooter had Riverside County ties
The 24-year-old Iraq War veteran suspected of gunning down a ranger at Mount Rainier National Park over the weekend was a Riverside County native. Search crews found the body of Benjamin Colton Barnes in the park yesterday, one day after the fatal shooting of one of the park's rangers. Authorities say Barnes died from exposure.
Barnes was discovered lying in an icy mountain creek, wearing only a T-shirt, jeans and one tennis shoe. He allegedly shot and killed a 34-year-old park ranger near a traffic checkpoint.
He apparently fled into the park after being involved in a separate shooting near Seattle. Four people were wounded in that incident.
Barnes lived in the Temecula Valley and Riverside before moving to Washington about five years ago and enlisting in the U.S. Army. He had been stationed at the Lewis-McChord army base near Tacoma, but was discharged two years ago after being charged with drunk driving and improperly transporting a weapon.
The mother of Barnes's 1-year-old daughter also filed two restraining orders against him. Authorities say Barnes may have suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and been suicidal.
In a photo obtained by the Associated Press, Barnes is seen with a large Raincross tattoo. The symbol has been associated with the city of Riverside for more than a hundred years. Barnes also had a tattoo of a pair of hands flashing the letters "L" and "A" in an apparent homage to the city of Los Angeles.