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Gunman shot dead at Yellowstone National Park wanted to carry out July 4 mass shooting: officials

A worker who was shot dead by park rangers at Yellowstone National Park on July 4 morning had intended to carry out a mass shooting later that day, park officials have revealed. 

Samson Lucas Bariah Fussner, 28, of Milton, Florida, died during an exchange of gunfire with rangers after he held a woman against her will at the park’s Canyon Village complex during the early hours of July 4.

The National Park Service (NPS) says that the woman told park rangers that Fussner threatened to kill her and others, including plans to allegedly carry out a mass shooting at July 4th events outside the park. Fussner was an employee of Xanterra Parks and Resorts, a private business authorized to operate in Yellowstone.

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More than 20 NPS law enforcement rangers, including the park’s special response team, found Fussner at around 8 a.m. near Canyon Lodge, which houses employees and public dining rooms – and was occupied by 200 people at the time. The complex is located in northwestern Wyoming and is popular for tourists visiting the historic park.

Fussner reportedly walked toward the service entrance of the facility while firing a semi-automatic rifle before several law enforcement rangers engaged him.

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An entrance sign for Yellowstone National Park

During the shootout, Fussner was shot and killed by law enforcement rangers.

In addition, one law enforcement ranger was shot in a lower extremity and was transported to hospital and has since been released. 

No other injuries were reported. 

The previously unreleased details provided by park officials Tuesday revealed a harrowing situation that seemingly could have ended badly and raised new questions about the attacker’s intent and motivations.

Fussner’s Facebook page showed pride if anything about landing a concession job in Yellowstone. Fussner posted a photo of his Xanterra Parks and Resorts badge and photos of him in snowy Yellowstone scenes from mid-May, at the onset of the summer tourist season. There are no posts hinting at anger or any other motivation for the shooting.

Meanwhile, Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly said that the heroic actions of law enforcement rangers saved many lives. 

A herd of bison in in Yellowstone National Park

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“These rangers immediately confronted this shooter and took decisive action to ensure he was no longer a threat to public safety,” Sholly said in a statement. “We are working now to provide maximum support to those involved and their families.”

The FBI is leading the investigation with support from NPS special agents and the Department of the Interior.  

Yellowstone is famous for its wildlife, scenery, geysers and hot springs, with more than 4.5 million people visiting the park in 2023. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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