UPDATE (11:23):The AP is reporting that 125 visitors to Mount Rainier National Park have all been evacuated and that officials are still looking for the gunman who they believe is armed and still in the woods. Meanwhile, the AP has also released this scary photo of Benjamin Colton Barnes, who officials are deeming "a person of interest."
UPDATE (6:41): CNN says a person with a ponytail, who may be the person in the videos has been detained by police following more fires that were set on Monday morning. The AP reports that twelve more suspected arson fires broke out early Monday morning, but that Los Angeles police have detained a "person of interest". A Fire department spokesman said, "It's still too early to say whether or not this person has any direct correlation with the number of fires that we've been responding to this evening," adding that the number of suspected arson fires now stands at 55.
Police are on the hunt for two "persons of interest" in the investigations of both the murder of a park ranger in Washington and an arson spree that has spooked the city of Los Angeles.
Authorities won't say definitively that veteran Benjamin Colton Barnes is the man who shot Mount Rainier National Park ranger Margaret Anderson on New Year's Day, but the 24-year-old Iraqi war veteran is also wanted for questioning in connection with another shooting in a Seattle suburb that wounded four people. Anderson was murdered on Sunday after setting up a road block when Barnes failed to obey a routine traffic stop. Barnes, who is still believed to be in the park, is considered armed and very dangerous. (More weapons and body armor were discovered in his car and it's assumed he has strong survivalist skills.) The park is currently shut down and all the remaining visitors are being escorted out by police. Anderson was a 34-year-old mother of two who was married to another park ranger.
Meanwhile, police in Southern California have not yet identified the person they are looking for in connection with an arson spree that has now lasted for five days. Authorities released security camera footage of "a light-skinned man in his late 20s to mid-30s, between 5 feet 8 and 6 feet 2 inches, with a dark ponytail and receding hairline" who they believe may be connected. A $60,000 reward is also being offered for information that helps crack the case.
Even though no one has been hurt yet in any of these incidents, there have been at least 39 fires in the L.A. area since Thrusday morning and the inability of police to slow down the crimes — and the fact that the targets are cars that are often parked near homes in the middle of the night — has the city on edge. Four more fires were set in the early morning hours on Monday. Given the large number of fires and the wide geographic area they've covered there is still the possibility that more than one person is involved, however, according to The Los Angeles Times, authorities seems to be focusing on the "disturbed loner" angle.
Finally, there are no suspects yet in four firebomb attacks in Queens, New York, that appear to be targeting Muslims. No one was hurt by the crude homemade Molotov cocktails that were thrown late on Sunday night, but the targets were an Islamic center, a bodega, and two private homes. Only one of the fires caused any serious damage, but they are being investigated as hate crimes.
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