TACOMA – Friends, family, fellow rangers and law enforcement officers gathered Tuesday to pay tribute to the National Park Ranger who was shot and killed at Mount Rainier National Park on New Year's Day.
The memorial service for Margaret Anderson was held at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma.
Officers and deputies from multiple agencies from around Washington state, including King County, the Seattle Police Department and Washington State Patrol participated in the memorial.
Anderson's father, a Lutheran minister, spoke at the memorial.
"Loving others in Christ's name lead her to to put herself between the evil that was coming up the mountain and the people who were at the top, who needed protecting," said Pastor Paul Kritsch. "She did it because it had to be done, she did it without thinking because it needed to be done."
"Margaret's mom, myself, her dad, her brother Peter, sister Sara ... we were and always will be very pround of her," he said.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar was also among the speakers.
"For nearly a century, the rangers of the National Park Service and especially those who train and serve in law enforcement, have risked their lives to protect the last of the bison at Yellowstone, to keep the people's lands free of smugglers and thieves, and today to defend the icons of our history from those who wish to inflict terror on those icons," he said.
"Rangers choose to serve for many reasions, duty, honor, adventure, but faith and compassion also inspire those servants of the public also to serve," he said.
A procession of law enforcement vehicles, ambulances, fire trucks and others left Clover Park Technical College in Lakewood and wound its way to PLU for the service.
Authorities say on Jan. 1, 24-year-old Benjamin Colton Barnes fled to Mount Rainier National Park after a shooting in Skyway that left four injured the night before. He drove his vehicle through a check point and when Anderson tried to stop him, he sprayed her vehicle with bullets, killing her inside. Barnes was found dead in a creek the following day.
At Tuesday's memorial, Mount Rainier National Park Superintendent Randy King said the decisions made by rangers on Jan. 1 prevented a catastrophe.
"I know that lives were saved by the immediate actions taken by rangers, maintenance employees and park volunteers to stop traffic and protect people after shots were fired," he said.
Anderson, 34, had served with the National Park Service for 11 years and worked at Mount Rainier for three years. She left behind two children and her husband, who also works as a ranger at the park.
Michael Jacobs, a retired park ranger, drove 700 miles from California to show his support for Anderson's family, colleagues and the community.
"Ranger Anderson joined to help people and to serve," said Jacobs, a reserve deputy with the Placer County Sheriff's Department and one of hundreds of law enforcement and other officers who came to honor Anderson. "It was extremely tragic."
Anderson grew up in New Jersey and earned a bachelor's degree in fisheries and wildlife from Kansas State University and a master's degree in biology from Fort Hays State University in Kansas, according to media reports.
She began working with the National Park Service as a law enforcement ranger at Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah, where she met her husband. She also worked as a law enforcement park ranger at Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park in Maryland.
"She will always be my hero, in life and in death," fellow ranger Robert Danno said in Tueday's service. "Rest now Margaret, there's a special place in heaven for heroes."
How to help
The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to KeyBank, P.O. Box 159, Eatonville, WA 98328. Checks should be made out to the Margaret Anderson Donation Account. The National Park Foundation has also established a memorial fund to benefit the children of Margaret and Eric Anderson. For more information, visit the memorial page for Ranger Margaret Anderson on NPS.gov.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.