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Yellowstone shooting update: Gunman fired semi-auto rifle at dining room

(Yellowstone National Park)

CASPER, Wyo. — The man shot to death by Yellowstone Park law enforcement rangers last week was firing a semi-automatic rifle at a dining room at Canyon Village during the confrontation, according to a press release from the park on Tuesday.

The press release provided an update on the shooting, adding the National Park Service will release available body camera footage of the incident within 30 days.

The incident started shortly after midnight July 4 when the park’s 911 dispatch center received a report from a woman who said she had been held against her will by a man — Samson Lucas Bariah Fussner, 28 — with a gun at Canyon Village. Fussner was an employee of park concessionaire Xanterra Parks and Resorts.

She also reported that Fussner threatened to kill her and others, including a plan to allegedly carry out a mass shooting or shootings at Independence Day events outside the park.

Rangers responded to the call, located Fussner’s vehicle unoccupied in the Canyon area, and learned Fussner was likely armed and dangerous.

By early July 4, over 20 NPS rangers, including the park’s special response team, were deployed to protect areas with park visitors and employees while searching for Fussner. Meanwhile, the park’s 911 dispatch center notified surrounding jurisdictions.

At about 8 a.m., rangers stationed themselves near Canyon Lodge, which houses employee and public dining rooms. About 200 people were in the building.

They saw Fussner walking toward the service entrance of the lodge while firing a semi-automatic rifle, according to the press release.

Several rangers engaged Fussner and shot him. A ranger also was shot.

Rangers with emergency medical training rendered aid to both the injured ranger and Fussner, who died at the scene. The ranger was taken to an area hospital in stable condition and has since been released. No other physical injuries were reported.

National Park Service policy for a law enforcement–involved shooting requires involved rangers to be placed on paid administrative leave during the investigation.

In the press release, Park Superintendent Cam Sholly said rangers saved many lives Thursday.

“These rangers immediately confronted this shooter and took decisive action to ensure he was no longer a threat to public safety,” Sholly said. “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.”

The FBI is leading the investigation into this incident as well as the actions of the law enforcement rangers. The investigation report will be reviewed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Wyoming.