Park Ranger Joseph David Kolodski

Park Ranger Joseph David Kolodski

United States Department of the Interior - National Park Service, U.S. Government

End of Watch Sunday, June 21, 1998

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Joseph David Kolodski

Park Ranger Joseph Kolodski was shot and killed after responding to a report of a man with a rifle threatening visitors at the Big Witch Overlook on the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina.

He was ambushed and shot as he was stepping out of his patrol car. Ranger Kolodski was the first officer on the scene and had driven past the suspect before radioing to another ranger to stay out of sight until they could work out a plan. He then returned and began to exit his vehicle when he was shot.

Another ranger then arrived at the scene and was fired at before the suspect fled into the woods. Ranger Kolodski was flown to a hospital in Tennessee where he was pronounced dead. The suspect in the shooting was arrested approximately four hours later by a tribal game warden on the neighboring Cherokee Indian Reservation.

The suspect was sentenced to mandatory life without parole and is being held financially responsible for loss of future income to Ranger Kolodski's family.

Ranger Kolodski had served with the National Park Service for 13 years and was an officer safety and defensive tactics instructor for the agency. He is survived by his wife and three children.


  • Age 36
  • Tour 13 years
  • Badge 874

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Location North Carolina
  • Weapon Rifle; 7.62 mm
  • Offender Sentenced to life

ambush, weapons violation

Most Recent Reflection

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I will never forget responding to and processing the scene on Father's day where Ranger Kolodski was murdered. He and his family have been in my thoughts and prayers since then.

SA Andrew M. Fisher

August 12, 2023

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