Slain park ranger receives state's top honor

OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - The state's highest law enforcement honor was awarded Friday to five officers, including a Mount Rainier National Park ranger who was fatally shot on New Year's Day 2012.

U.S. Park Ranger {A href=""}Margaret Anderson was awarded a medal for posthumous service, which was accepted by her parents at a ceremony at the Washington state Law Enforcement Memorial on the Capitol campus.

Anderson was shot and killed after setting up a roadblock to stop a vehicle that blew through a checkpoint on the road to the park's visitor center.

A National Park Service review board determined that Anderson's actions in trying to stop Benjamin Barnes kept him from reaching the crowded Paradise area and likely saved the lives of many park visitors and staff. After shooting Anderson, Barnes fled on foot. His body was found in a nearby river the next day.

Mount Rainer National Park Superintendent Randy King called Anderson "an exceptional human being."

"She had a gift for connecting with and helping people," he said. "Margaret had the ability, drive and focus to be anything in life she wanted to be. She chose to be a national park ranger, a guardian and protector of the parks."

Gov. Jay Inslee placed a wreath at the memorial, and along with Attorney General Bob Ferguson, presented the posthumous and other medals and portraits of all of the officers Friday afternoon.

Anderson's name was added to the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C. last month.

Two deputies received the medal of honor for serious injury. Deputies Michael A. Northway and Joseph M. Spink of the Spokane County Sheriff's Office were injured after they were fired upon after making a traffic stop on June 19, 2012.

Spink was shot in the leg, and Northway was shot in both arms and legs, but both returned fire. The suspect, Charles Wallace, later killed himself after leading police on a chase.

Two others received the medal of honor for meritorious conduct: Officers Ryan Moody and Jon Waller of Lakewood Police Department, who attempted to stop a stolen vehicle on Dec. 9, 2012.

They fatally shot Michael David Crawford, who was wearing body armor, after he engaged them in a gunfight following a high-speed chase.