“If it happens in downtown Seattle, it happens in the forest,” said Jay Webster, who supervises law enforcement rangers in two national forests in Washington State, reports the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. “We have gang activity, a lot of drugs, alcohol violations, traffic violations.” The slayings of two women Wednesday in one forest was “incredibly rare,” Webster said, only the second and third homicides he can recall in his 39-year Forest Service career. “We’re waiting to see what was the criminal element (in Wednesday’s killings), whether it was random,” said Kelly Bush, acting chief ranger at North Cascades National Park, which has seen a rise in smuggling of people and goods across the border from Canada. “We want to believe that the national parks are reasonably safe places for people to recreate,” she said.
The Forest Service does not know how many violent crimes are committed on federal land. Although violent crime is rare in North Cascades National Park, she said, “smuggling of people, goods, drugs, guns — anything you can’t go across the border and (declare) you have” — has increased since the border has tightened in recent years.