Gwinnett police investigators now believe a park ranger shot last week at a Lake Lanier park was hit by accident as the suspect committed suicide, according to a news release.
The department received a 911 call at about 10:15 p.m. Wednesday advising that U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Ranger D.P. Wright, 70, had been shot at the Lower Overlook area of Buford Dam Park at the south end of Lanier, according to Gwinnett Police Department Cpl. Jake Smith.
Smith said Monday that Wright was likely shot with the same bullet that killed Qiana Moore, 34, of Woodstock.
“The evidence at the scene supports this theory, including the facts that only one shot was heard, and only one shell casing was located,” Smith said in a news release.
Officers found Wright that night after he had managed to walk to Buford Dam Road for help despite the gunshot wound to the abdomen. He flagged down a passing motorist who stopped and called 911.
Wright was taken to a local hospital by ambulance. He remains hospitalized, but is expected to be discharged sometime this week. Additional recovery will be needed at home, but he said he looks forward to returning to work, according to a news release.
Wright’s family issued a statement through the police department that they are “overwhelmed with the number of messages they are receiving communicating concern, blessings and wishes for a full recovery.”
Wright gave a statement to officers while in the ambulance that night, saying he approached a woman in a pickup truck to tell her the park was closed, according to Smith. There was no argument or confrontation; she produced the gun and shot, according to a news release.
Federal rangers don’t carry guns and can’t make arrests, but they are armed with pepper spray and can issue federal citations. The agency works with local law enforcement and officers with the Department of Natural Resources.
Georgia passed a new law this year that makes obstruction of a corps ranger a state misdemeanor and violence to the ranger a felony. Ranger Ken Weiner was assaulted in 2012 at Burton Mill Park on Lanier, which prompted the new legislation.