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The July 4th Yellowstone Shootout Was Almost a Tragedy

The National Park Service (NPS) has released details about the deadly July 4th shootout at Yellowstone National Park. The gunman died after swapping bullets with law-enforcement rangers in the park in the morning hours of the federal holiday. But we now know that it could have been so much worse.

The gunman, which NPS identified as 28-year-old Samson Lucas Bariah Fussner of Milton, Florida, had planned to attempt a mass shooting. Just after midnight on July 4, Fussner held a woman against her will in the Canyon Village complex. She told law-enforcement rangers that Fussner “threatened to kill her and others” and that he planned to “carry out a mass shooting(s) at July 4th events outside the park,” NPS says in its press release.

After receiving the woman’s report, law-enforcement rangers sprung into action to find Fussner, who was likely armed and dangerous. They found his unoccupied vehicle, and, eventually, at about 8 AM, they found Fussner himself back near Canyon Lodge, which NPS says houses employee and public dining rooms.

NPS says Fussner “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 and ultimately shot him. One ranger also received a bullet wound to a lower extremity, but the wound was not life threatening.

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

What Now?

The public will likely continue to get more information as the investigation continues, including body-cam footage of the incident. NPS says: “Consistent with Department of the Interior and NPS policies, the NPS will release available body worn camera footage of the incident within 30 days.”

Superintendent Cam Sholly says the law-enforcement rangers’ decisive actions likely saved many lives last Thursday.

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