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Yellowstone Park ranger injured in shootout released from hospital

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Posted at 4:27 AM, Jul 10, 2024

The Yellowstone National Park ranger injured in a July 4 shootout with a suspect at Canyon Village has been released from a local hospital as the investigation of the incident continues, the National Parks Service reported Tuesday.

The parks service released its first detailed report of the encounter, where Samson Lucas Bariah Fussner, 28, held a woman at gunpoint just after midnight and told her he was planning a mass shooting at Fourth of July events outside the park, according to the release.

Law enforcement at the park received a 911 call of Fussner's alleged threats and found his unoccupied vehicle in the Canyon area. More than 20 rangers posted around 8 a.m. near Canyon Lodge, which houses employees and public dining rooms, according to the release. Fussner was an employee of Xanterra Parks and Resorts, which operates private businesses in the park.

According to the parks service, Fussner was shooting a semi-automatic rifle toward the dining hall, which was occupied by more than 200 people, when he was approached by rangers. Gunfire was exchanged, and Fussner was shot by rangers and later pronounced dead at the scene.

One ranger was injured with gunshot wound to the lower extremities, according to the parks service. That ranger was not identified.

"Thanks to the heroic actions of our law enforcement rangers, many lives were saved here last Thursday," said Superintendent Cam Sholly in a statement."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. 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."

Rangers involved in the shooting have been placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation, which is department policy. The investigation is led by the FBI and will be reviewed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Wyoming.  

The parks service will release body camera footage of the incident within 30 days.

Update 7: p.m. Xanterra officials said they reopened a limited quantity of select rooms and visitor services Tuesday, along with the tours from Canyon Village and the M66 Lounge. All remaining lodging will reopen Wednesday, along with all dining services.

Here's the full release:

MAMMOTH HOT SPRINGS, WY – On the morning of July 4, Yellowstone National Park law enforcement rangers confronted an individual shooting a semi-automatic rifle toward a dining facility at Canyon Village located in the central part of the park. The shooter has been identified by the Park County, Wyoming coroner as Samson Lucas Bariah Fussner, 28, of Milton, Florida. Fussner died after an exchange of gunfire with law enforcement. The investigation into this incident, including the actions of the National Park Service (NPS) law enforcement rangers, is being led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and will be reviewed by the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Wyoming.  

Just after midnight on July 4, Yellowstone’s 911 dispatch center received a report that a woman had been held against her will by a man with a gun in a residence at Canyon Village. She also reported to law enforcement rangers that Fussner threatened to kill her and others, including plans to allegedly carry out a mass shooting(s) at July 4th events outside the park.

Responding law enforcement rangers located his vehicle unoccupied in the Canyon area. The preliminary investigation indicated Fussner was likely armed and dangerous. 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. By the early hours of July 4, over 20 NPS law enforcement rangers, including the park’s special response team, were working to protect people and locate Fussner. 

At approximately 8 a.m., law enforcement rangers posted near Canyon Lodge, which houses employee and public dining rooms, encountered Fussner. Fussner reportedly walked toward the service entrance of the facility while firing a semi-automatic rifle. The building was occupied by approximately 200 people at the time. Several law enforcement rangers engaged Fussner. During an exchange of gunfire, Fussner was shot by law enforcement rangers. In addition, one law enforcement ranger was shot in a lower extremity. Additional rangers with emergency medical training rendered aid to both the injured law enforcement ranger and Fussner. Fussner died at the scene. The injured law enforcement ranger was transported to an area hospital in stable condition and has since been released. No other physical injuries were reported.

Fussner was an employee of Xanterra Parks and Resorts, a private business authorized to operate in Yellowstone.

The FBI, with support from the NPS, Xanterra and other partners, is providing victim/witness support to anyone who was involved in the incident.

NPS policy for a law enforcement involved shooting calls for involved law enforcement rangers to be placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation of the incident. Consistent with Department of the Interior and NPS policies, the NPS will release available body worn camera footage of the incident within 30 days.

"Thanks to the heroic actions of our law enforcement rangers, many lives were saved here last Thursday," said 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. 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."

Here's the full release from Xanterra:

We are deeply saddened by the incident that occurred at Yellowstone National Park on July 4 involving a Xanterra employee. We extend our heartfelt condolences to those who were impacted by this incident. We continue to cooperate fully with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National Park Service (NPS) as they investigate this incident. The safety and well-being of our employees, guests, and the wider community are our top priorities, and we are committed to ensuring a safe environment for everyone.

We want to again thank the NPS law enforcement rangers for their incredible actions in resolving the situation. In conjunction with the NPS support resources, Xanterra is providing counseling and support services to its Yellowstone employees.

We are working diligently to bring all our facilities back to regular operations in the Canyon Lodge area. We thank our Xanterra employees who are working through these difficult issues and are serving our guests and our company in such a dedicated manner. Similarly, we thank all our guests for their kindness, patience, and understanding regarding their interactions with our employees as we continue to work through these events, and their travel disruptions.

A limited quantity of select rooms and most visitor services opened at Canyon Lodge today, July 9. All remaining lodging (including the Western cabins, and the two of seven guest lodges) will reopen tomorrow, July 10. Food service at the Eatery will begin with dinner at 5:00pm today, July 9. Food service will return to normal hours beginning July 10 for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The M66 Lounge will open tonight, July 9. Regularly scheduled tours will resume from Canyon Lodge today, July 9.