A park ranger was shot Wednesday night at Buford Dam Park at the south end of Lake Lanier and the suspected shooter likely committed suicide, according to the Gwinnett County Police Department.
Gwinnett Police Department Cpl. Jake Smith said in a news release that the department received a 911 call at about 10:15 p.m. advising that a U.S. Army Corps of Engineers ranger, D.P. Wright, 70, had been shot at the Lower Overlook area of the park.
Officers responded and found Wright had managed to walk to Buford Dam Road for help despite a gunshot wound to the abdomen, closing the gate behind him to prevent his attacker’s exit. 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 survive his injuries.
He was able to give a statement to officers while in the ambulance, Smith said. He told police he approached a woman in a pickup truck around 10 p.m. Wednesday to tell her the park was closed. But the woman opened fire, wounding the ranger below the chest.
“He was approaching this vehicle with the intention of just saying, ‘Hey, the park is closed, and you need to go,’” Smith said. “And there was no kind of confrontation or argument or anything like that between the two of them. She simply produced the gun and shot him one time.”
Officers checked the area and found Qiana Moore, 34, of Woodstock, matching the description of the suspect. She was dead of a gunshot wound along with a handgun inside the vehicle. Police concluded the shooting was self-inflicted and likely suicide.
Nicholas Baggett, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Natural Resource Manager for Lanier, said it’s the first time that a park ranger patrolling the lake has been shot, to his knowledge. Baggett came to the area in 1991.
Federal rangers don’t carry guns and can’t make arrests, but they are armed with pepper spray and 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.
Times reporter Sarah Mueller and the Associated Press contributed to this story.