PORT ANGELES — Hurricane Ridge Road in the Olympic National Park remained closed Monday night after a North Olympic Peninsula man, armed with a rifle, fled Sunday morning into the woods in the Deer Park campground area, authorities said.
The Deer Park and Hurricane Ridge wilderness areas also were off-limits to campers, who were evacuated from the area.
“There’s no known immediate threat to local residents, at least at this point,” Brian King, Clallam County chief criminal deputy, said Monday morning, adding law enforcement is worried about the man’s mental instability, concerns derived from comments he made.
“The information we have at this time is that this is completely and utterly precautionary in hopes they can get this individual some services,” King said.
King said the man was armed with a long rifle and that his friend said he had been using methamphetamine.
The park identified him Monday night as a white male in his 30s who has access to food, water and camping gear.
A 2010 federal law allows visitors to carry loaded firearms in Olympic National Park and 371 other national parks and national monuments.
“A lot of people go into the park armed,” King said, adding the guns are usually sidearms or concealed carry.
“Long rifles are fairly uncommon.”
Park spokesperson Penny Wagner said Monday in an email that there have been no injuries and the man has not directly threatened anyone.
She said the Deer Park and Hurricane Ridge areas will remain closed, and she confirmed the man lives on the North Olympic Peninsula.
The park enlisted the help of the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office, King said.
A friend of the man alerted authorities to his behavior by calling 9-1-1, King said.
“His last known location was in the park,” King said.
The man is believed to be contained to the Deer Park area, but with vast trail systems in the area, the Clallam County Sheriff’s Office said that is unknown for sure, the agency stated in a press release Monday night.
King said the FBI is involved in the investigation.
“There were concerns over access to trails from Deer Park. I assume there were concerns over trail access to all the locations in the park in the event he did head into the backcountry.
“The information that we’ve got that we have known to us is that he was 6 or 7 miles into the park, which is a pretty significant distance,” King said.
Law enforcement has in its possession “some writings” by the man, “some notes he had,” King said.
“I don’t know if we’d call it a manifesto. It’s in the possession of law enforcement.”
The park posted a notice about the incident on its website at 9:26 p.m. Sunday.
A recording on the park’s information line (360-565-3131) said roads to the campground and Hurricane Ridge would remain closed Monday — Deer Park Road at the park boundary and Hurricane Ridge Road above the Heart O’ the Hills campground.
“The National Park Service has worked throughout the day to help visitors in these areas exit the park,” the post said.
“The areas of Deer Park and Hurricane Ridge will remain closed through [Sunday] night for public safety due to an ongoing law enforcement incident,” it said.
“An individual who is armed and potentially dangerous was last known to be in the area of Deer Park. The National Park Service has worked throughout the day to help visitors in these areas exit the park. A multi-agency response is in place.”
Wagner was unable to report late Monday afternoon if there was an active, ongoing search for the man, what he was wearing so people could report to authorities if they see him, if he had survival gear to withstand what may be a second night in the open, or if he had committed a crime.
King was unavailable for comment Monday afternoon.
This story originally appeared in the Peninsula Daily News, a sister publication to The Herald.