Man fatally shot by park rangers at Yellowstone National Park allegedly threatened mass shooting

Obtained by ABC News

(CANYON VILLAGE, Wyo.) -- A 28-year-old man who worked for a business in Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming allegedly threatened to carry out a mass shooting before being killed in a shootout with rangers on the Fourth of July, officials said Tuesday.

Samson Lucas Bariah Fussner, of Milton, Florida, was confronted by Yellowstone law enforcement rangers early on the morning of July 4 while allegedly shooting a semi-automatic rifle toward a dining facility at Canyon Village, according to NPS. Approximately 200 people were in the facility at the time, NPS said in an update on the incident Tuesday.

During an exchange of gunfire, Fussner was shot by law enforcement rangers and died at the scene, NPS said. A ranger was also shot in a lower extremity, NPS said. The injured ranger was transported to an area hospital in stable condition and has since been released, NPS said. No other injuries were reported.

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

Xanterra said it is "deeply saddened" by the incident and continue to cooperate with authorities in the investigation.

"We extend our heartfelt condolences to those who were impacted by this incident," the company said in a statement. "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."

Law enforcement rangers initially began searching for the suspect after Yellowstone's 911 dispatch center received a report just after midnight on July 4 "that a woman had been held against her will by a man with a gun in a residence at Canyon Village," NPS said in a press release.

"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," NPS said.

Rangers were "strategically deployed" in the park amid the search for Fussner, NPS said. Those posted near Canyon Lodge -- which houses employee and public dining rooms in the center of the park -- encountered him around 8 a.m. local time as he "reportedly walked toward the service entrance of the facility while firing a semi-automatic rifle," NPS said.

The investigation into this incident is being led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and will be reviewed by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Wyoming, the NPS said. The probe will include the shooting involving the rangers, who have been placed on paid administrative leave amid the investigation per NPS policy.

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

Wednesday, July 10, 2024 at 2:20PM by Meredith Deliso, ABC News Permalink