Search for armed man in Olympic National Park ends, some roads remain closed

PORT ANGELES, Wash. — UPDATE, 9/1/2021:

A news release from the National Park Service on Wednesday said the man who was the subject of a search is in custody and no one was hurt.

“A multiagency law enforcement team was able to bring the incident at Deer Park to a safe resolution late last night with no injuries. The individual is in custody. The investigation is ongoing and charges are pending. Further details will be forthcoming. Deer Park and Obstruction Point roads will remain closed at this time. Park staff are currently working to reopen Hurricane Ridge. Check the park Twitter and Facebook pages or call the road and weather hotline at 360-565-3131 for road status updates,” the release read.

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Original story:

A popular area of the Olympic National Park is shut down for a third day as multiple law enforcement agencies search for a “potentially dangerous” man armed with a gun.

Visitors were evacuated from the Hurricane Ridge and Deer Park Campground areas on Sunday, and roads to both locations were still closed as of Tuesday evening.

Details from the National Parks Service are scant as to why law enforcement is considering the man potentially dangerous, but Olympic National Park expressed in a post on social media, “There is a man in the area known to be armed. There is information to suggest he has been using drugs and possibly suffering mental distress.”

The man is in his 30s, and investigators said part of the concern also involves a note from the man they’re trying to find. The note was turned over to authorities from a friend of the man, according to the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office, which is assisting with the investigation. The FBI is also involved.

It means Tuesday, the road to Hurricane Ridge was closed for a third day, catching some visitors by surprise.

“As a tourist, I’m super bummed,” said Izabela Baldyga, who was visiting from Massachusetts.

“We drove all the way up there and realized we couldn’t get in to where we wanted to go,” said Haley Gabel, who drove to Washington from Montana.

A road information phone line (360-565-3131) tells you this: “Hurricane Ridge road and Deer Park Road are closed due to an ongoing law enforcement incident.”

Investigators said the man is from the area, is armed with a gun and has access to camping supplies and food. The sheriff’s office confirmed his friends reported he had been using drugs and is possibly suffering mental distress.

“You’re on a vacation trying to roam around. You can’t really roam around if someone is armed and dangerous, so it’s kind of scary,” Gabel said.

The sheriff’s office stated friends of the armed man also turned over notes written by him. As for what he wrote, investigators would only say, “No one has been directly threatened.”

However, the situation was concerning enough that on a busy Sunday, park rangers evacuated the popular Hurricane Ridge visitor’s center, known for its sweeping views of the Olympic Mountains.

Rangers also evacuated Deer Park Campground, which is about a 15-mile hike away from Hurricane Ridge.

NPS stated Deer Park Campground is where the man was last seen, and his car is still parked there.

“It’s kind of freaky. I hope they find him,” Gabel said.

KIRO 7 asked if Hurricane Ridge would stay closed through the Labor Day weekend if authorities couldn’t find the man. NPS didn’t answer the question but stated, “Our priority is to ensure the safety of our visitors… We are currently focused on keeping the Deer Park and Hurricane Ridge area clear of visitors and resolving this difficult situation.”

NPS added in a news release, “There is no indication the individual poses an immediate threat to local residents or park visitors.”

Update 8/31/2021 3:00 pm: Deer Park and Hurricane Ridge remain closed for public safety. The area closure includes the...

Posted by Olympic National Park on Sunday, August 29, 2021