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A gunman killed in a restaurant in Yellowstone National Park had previously told a woman he had planned a mass murder

By MEAD GRUVER – Associated Press

CHEYENNE, Wyoming (AP) — A gunman killed by Yellowstone National Park rangers when he fired a semiautomatic rifle at the entrance to a cafeteria with about 200 people inside had told a woman he had earlier held at gunpoint that he planned to carry out a massacre, park officials said Tuesday.

Park rangers returned fire and killed the man during the attack Thursday morning. Yellowstone National Park officials identified the lone gunman Tuesday as Samson Lucas Bariah Fussner, 28, of Milton, Florida.

An injured park ranger was released from the hospital, but his identity is unknown.

The shooting prompted authorities to close Canyon Lodge, a complex of hotel rooms, cabins and dining facilities, some of which remained closed Tuesday. Fussner worked for Xanterra Parks and Resorts, the primary concessionaire for such facilities in Yellowstone, park officials said in a statement Tuesday.

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The statement provided several previously unpublished details about the incidents.

Shortly after midnight Thursday, police officials learned that Fussner had held a woman against her will with a gun at a residence in Canyon Village, a lodging facility near the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone at the north end of the park. The woman reported that Fussner had threatened to kill her and others and even that he wanted to carry out a mass shooting at Fourth of July events outside the park.

Rangers found Fussner’s vehicle, but not him. More than 20 law enforcement officers, including a park special operations team, searched for Fussner and organized protection for park visitors and employees.

At about 8 a.m. Thursday morning, law enforcement officers encountered Fussner as he approached a staff entrance to the Canyon Lodge dining room and fired shots at it. Several of the rangers shot Fussner, who died at the scene, the statement said.

No further injuries were reported.

“Thanks to the heroic efforts of our rangers, many lives were saved here last Thursday,” Yellowstone Superintendent Cam Sholly said in the statement.

The FBI investigated. According to National Park Service policy, rangers involved in a shooting are placed on paid administrative leave while the shooting is investigated, the statement said.

When asked whether Yellowstone Police rangers had been placed on leave, there was no immediate comment from the park administration on Tuesday.

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