Florida man killed by rangers in Yellowstone Park identified (2024)

Billings Gazette

A 28-year-old Florida man working for a Yellowstone National Park concessionaire has been identified as the man killed in a fatal shootout with rangers on July 4 at Canyon Village.

Florida man killed by rangers in Yellowstone Park identified (1)

Samson Lucas Bariah Fussner, of Milton, Florida, was killed after apparently holding a female at gunpoint and threatening to “shoot up” a fireworks show in West Yellowstone or somewhere else in Montana, according to a recording of a Yellowstone Communications Center BOLO (be on the lookout) to surrounding law enforcement agencies and rebroadcast by the Park County Sherriff's Office Communications Center. A copy of the recording was posted to the NPS Ranger News Facebook page.

Park County Wyoming coroner Cody Gortmaker identified Fussner. Gortmaker took custody of Fussner’s body the night of July 4, according to reporting by the Powell Tribune. An autopsy was conducted Friday, and Gortmaker said it concluded that Fussner “died from injuries sustained by Yellowstone Park rangers,” the newspaper reported and Gortmaker confirmed.

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An unidentified park ranger was injured in the shootout. The ranger's condition and the extent of the injuries have not been released by the National Park Service.

Rangers responded to a report of a man with a firearm who was making threats late on July 3 and continuing into the morning of Independence Day, according to a Park Service news release.

The scanner recording said Lussner – who was a seasonal worker from Milton, Florida – was believed to have a “pistol and possibly other larger weapons,” as well as a knife. The Cowboy State Daily was the first to report the scanner recording.

“Looks like he held a female hostage at gunpoint and threatened suicide by cop,” according to the recording.

When rangers contacted Fussner there was an exchange of gunfire.Guests camping in Canyon Village told Cowboy State Daily on Friday that they heard numerous shots and watched park rangers rush to the area. One couple estimated 100 gunshots were fired, the news site reported

The shooting prompted the closure of the Canyon Village Visitor Center and surrounding restaurants and gift shops for days. The FBI is leading the investigation with support from National Park Service special agents.

Photos posted to the NPS Ranger News Facebook page showed armed tactical officers approaching employee housing in Canyon Village. The Cowboy State Daily also posted a photo of Sussner’s employee identification card showing his job was scheduled to last through Sept. 15.

The shooting occurred at the height of Yellowstone’s busy summer visitation season. Last July, more than 969,000 people poured into the park from around the world. Typically, that means campsites and hotel rooms have been reserved months in advance and are fully booked.

Florida man killed by rangers in Yellowstone Park identified (3)

Xanterra Travel Collection oversees the Canyon Village concessions, as well as many other prominent vacation locations in Yellowstone. The company recruits seasonal employees from around the world.

Yellowstone Park Lodges posted on its website that the Canyon Campground was set to reopen Monday, July 8, and there would be “limited lodging open for the night of July 8th. There will be no food service available at this time.”

Florida man killed by rangers in Yellowstone Park identified (4)

The Yellowstone Park Lodges website says the Canyon Campground has more than 270 individual sites and 15 public restrooms.

Violent crime is rare in Yellowstone Park. In 1997, in the Frog Rock area six miles east of Mammoth, there was a murder-suicide involving and a 69-year-old Idaho mother and the shooter, her 48-year-old son. The pair had been on the lam following a check fraud and auto theft scheme, according to the Cowboy State Daily.

In 1985, near Old Faithful, a 22-year-old park employee was beaten to death by a co-worker. In 1978, in the Boiling River area north of Mammoth Hot Springs, a California 17-year-old was shot dead by a man he was traveling with.

The July 4 Yellowstone shooting is the 120th officer-involved shooting in National Park Service history, according to NPS Ranger News. The first officer-involved shooting in Yellowstone came sometime between 1916 and 1920 when former Chief Scout Jim McBride was shot by a poacher, Ranger News reported.

Florida man killed by rangers in Yellowstone Park identified (5)

Florida man killed by rangers in Yellowstone Park identified (6)

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Florida man killed by rangers in Yellowstone Park identified (2024)
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