NewsLocal News


Park worker says Yellowstone may provide comfort after traumatic shooting

Screenshot 2024-07-05 at 6.21.45 PM.png
Posted at 7:56 PM, Jul 05, 2024

There's still much unknown about the shooting in Yellowstone National Park on Thursday, including the names of both the suspect and the ranger.

Some park employees barricaded themselves in buildings and storage closets as the shots rang out.

Whether it's a city park like Pioneer or a national park like Yellowstone, many turn to the great outdoors to get away from the stresses of life.

And that's what makes what happened on Wednesday and Thursday at Canyon Village that much more disturbing.

It happened at a place long known as a sanctuary from violence.

“The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone is a very popular natural attraction, the Lower Falls, and so yes it's going to be a busy place,” said Rick Hoeninghausen, Xanterra marketing director.

Yellowstone may be a busy place, but the park is better known for the solitude the it offers as an escape from life's stresses.

“It's a bit of a surprise and a shock for something like this to happen in a place like Yellowstone.” Hoeninghausen said.

On Thursday, park officials say an armed individual fired at park rangers after allegedly making several threats that quickly led to a shootout in Canyon Village, one of the busiest areas of the park.

“One of those amazing rangers was injured and it hurts when you hear that,” Hoeninghausen said. “And I don't know the individuals who are involved, but it very much hurts.”

Xanterra is the largest concessionaire at Yellowstone and operates the hotels, restaurants, and gift stores in Yellowstone and is also the park's largest employer.

Hoeninghausen estimates there were likely hundreds of people in the Canyon Village area when the shootout occurred including dozens of seasonal employees.

“This is a family as much as anything,” he said. “Whether you're a park service, whether you're a different concession or whether you're us, you cannot work here for a few days even without starting to feel connections.”

Counseling services were provided to those employees Friday, but many now are already back at work.

Hoeninghausen is just thankful that no one else was injured and credits the National Park Service response.

“Unending and very impressed by how these people responded,” he said.

And Hoeninghausen says the 3,000 park employees all feel for the injured ranger.

“Maybe at the same time, this place will also help provide some healing for those who were impacted by this,” Hoeninghausen said. “And our people find relief here. They find comfort here. They find a way to recover from things here."