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Park ranger killed in N.C. shooting

Police from several agencies are assisting in the manhunt  
June 21, 1998
Web posted at: 7:46 p.m. EDT (2346 GMT)

CHEROKEE, North Carolina (CNN) -- Dozens of police and park rangers were searching the woods along the Blue Ridge Parkway Sunday after a man armed with a high-powered rifle opened fire on rangers, killing one, authorities said.

A suspect was taken into custody Sunday evening, said Bob Miller, a spokesman for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. "But we're not sure we've got the right guy," Miller said, so the search is continuing.

The ranger died at 4:21 p.m., said Lisa McNeal, spokeswoman for University of Tennessee Hospital in Knoxville. The ranger was airlifted to the hospital after the shooting, she said. McNeal declined to identify the ranger.

The shooting occurred at 2:50 p.m. Another ranger was shot at and his windshield was broken, but he was unhurt, Miller said.

Bob Miller, spokesman for the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, describes the shooting of the park ranger.
( 417 K / 38 sec. AIFF or WAV sound)

Calls were made to the park service warning that a man with a high-powered rifle was aiming at visitors who had stopped at an overlook, Miller said. When rangers arrived, he shot at them without provocation.

The shooting occurred within a few miles of where law enforcement officials have been looking for Eric Rudolph, a suspect in the Olympic Park bombing.

But Miller said there is no reason to believe that Rudolph is linked to Sunday's shooter.

"From descriptions, he's a much younger man," Miller said of the man sought in Sunday's shooting.

He described the suspect as a white male in his early 20s, who was wearing blue jeans but no shirt or shoes. Rudolph is in his early 30s.

Miller said park rangers and local police departments are participating in the search. An FBI SWAT team was en route, he said.

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