On Thursday June 27 an unarmed US Army Corps of Engineers Park Ranger was shot while conducting his normal daily duties of closing and area for the night. From the article you can visit below it sounds like he merely walked up to a vehicle to inform the occupant that they needed to leave for the evening so he could close a gate. The person he walked up to shot him in the abdomen.
How many times a day do park rangers and other land managers conduct "sweeps" of areas so that they can close gates at dusk. I know during my career I did this hundreds if not thousands of times.
The lesson, if there is one here, that we can all draw from this incident is that there is no such thing as routine whether you are an armed law enforcement trained park ranger, a fee collector, interpreter, biologist, or maintenance worker. If you are working with the most unpredictable creature on earth, the human, you can never know what to expect. Adding the wearing of any type of official looking uniform or vehicle and you can easily become someone's target.
Just last week I wrote about a study indicating a sharp increase in assaults and threats made against park rangers. You can read about that in the post dated June 16.
Never be complacent, in to much of a hurry, or let your guard down. Always remain alert and listen to your instincts when dealing with the public. Do not harbor the expectations that everyone out there is going to react to your presence or contact the way you would.
I doubt this Park Ranger did anything wrong. He just walked into a no win situation which looks to me to have involved a person ready to take their own life and not adverse to taking others with them. I of course do not have all the facts and am making several suppositions based on very little factual information, but can see this scenario quite clearly being possible.
To all my land management agency brothers and sisters, be careful out there and let us remember this injured fellow ranger in our thoughts and prayers. We all hope for him to have a speedy and successful recovery.
US Army Corps of Engineers Park Ranger Shot