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Yellowstone National Park shooting leaves one dead, ranger injured

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)

By Joshua Wolfson and Angus M. Thuermer Jr.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated with more information about the law enforcement response and the area where the shooting took place.

Yellowstone National Park rangers shot and killed a person early Thursday morning during an exchange of gunfire that also left a ranger injured, the park announced.

The law enforcement ranger was in stable condition and receiving medical care at a nearby regional hospital late Thursday morning. The park’s announcement did not disclose the nature of the ranger’s injuries.

There was no active threat to the public at the time of the park’s announcement.

The park described a “significant law enforcement incident” that occurred at Canyon Village in central Yellowstone overnight Wednesday and into Thursday morning. Rangers responded to the area after learning that a person with a gun was making threats, the park said.

When rangers contacted the person, whom Yellowstone did not identify, they and the individual exchanged gunfire. The park announcement did not state how many rangers were involved in the shooting.

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

Firearms are permitted in the national park, but prohibited in certain facilities including visitor centers and government offices. Firing a gun is also prohibited.

Calls to park officials weren’t immediately returned around noon Thursday.

The area around the Canyon Lodge complex remained closed Thursday while authorities investigated the shooting. The FBI is leading the investigation with help from National Park Service special agents.

In an email, an FBI spokeswoman for the agency’s Denver field office said the bureau could not comment beyond what was included in the park’s announcement.

Images from the scene

A retired National Park Service ranger who runs a Facebook page focused on agency news posted photographs of law enforcement officers said to be at the site of the deadly shooting in Yellowstone on Thursday morning.

Retired ranger Greg Jackson posted photographs he said showed armed law officers entering the Bison employee dorm building at the Canyon complex.

Jackson, who left the agency in about 2012, said he received the photographs from the father of a concessionaire’s employee. Jackson did not name the employee or her father.

But he said the female photographer “was a fellow concession employee and had an interaction with the suspect,” who was a male.

“Multiple sources have told me that he was an employee of the park concession,” Jackson wrote on the NPS Ranger News Facebook page. “This squares with the incident photos that show a concession employee housing area.”

WyoFile has been unable to confirm whether the deceased worked for a park concessionaire at Canyon Village. Neither the park service nor Xanterra, which operates the Canyon Lodge and Cabins, returned messages seeking comment mid-afternoon Thursday.

Jackson retired from 23 years with the park service after serving as deputy chief of law enforcement, security and emergency services in Washington, D.C. He said he first received information regarding the shooting from Yellowstone employees who relayed a message sent from Park Superintendent Cam Sholly to them.

Although the incident happened in Yellowstone on the Fourth of July — on a holiday in the world’s most famous pleasuring ground — law enforcement was equipped to deal with the threat, Jackson said.

“They’re trained federal law enforcement officers,” he said. “You can see by photos they’re well equipped for an armed response. They’re quite well trained for things like this.”

Canyon Village is perched on the edge of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, one of the park’s premier attractions that features Artist Point and a view of the 308-foot high Lower Falls of the Yellowstone River.

Canyon Village grocery store. (NPS/Jacob W. Frank)

There are more than 500 rooms at Canyon Lodge and Cabins, which is situated near the canyon, according to the park’s website.

In addition to the Canyon Lodge and Cabins, the developed complex includes a campground with more than 270 sites.
The shooting occurred at the start of the July 4 holiday weekend during what is typically the park’s busiest month for visitation.

This article was originally published by WyoFile and is republished here with permission. WyoFile is an independent nonprofit news organization focused on Wyoming people, places and policy.