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Chopper pilot drops coffee cups to warn campers of suspected killer on the loose in national park

Imagine camping with friends when suddenly your campsite is invaded by the roar of a helicopter rotor.  That's what happened to Brian Vogt and his friends on Jan. 2 while sleeping in their tents in Rainier National Park.  "We thought we heard 'A ranger has been shot and killed, shooter at large,' " camper Brian Vogt wrote in an email exchange with The Seattle Times. But it wasn't all that clear.

Matt Pokrywka via AP

Jen Berthiaume, left, Natalia Martinez-Paz, center, and Brian Vogt are seen celebrating New Year's Eve, Saturday, Dec. 31, 2011, while camping at Mount Rainier National Park, Wash. A helicopter crew searching for the gunman who killed a Mount Rainier National Park ranger on New Year's Day came across the small group of campers and used an unusual method to warn them the shooter was at large.

That's when the pilot let fly his backup plan. He dropped a coffee cup with a warning scrawled in ink: "A ranger has been shot shooter at large. Call on cell if able to Pierce Co Sheriff."

Jen Berthiaume via AP

In these photos provided by Jen Berthiaume, a messages scrawled onto coffee cups that were dropped to a group of campers Jan. 2, 2011 while a search was going on for an armed suspect in Mount Rainier National Park, Wash., are seen. A helicopter crew searching for the gunman who killed a Mount Rainier National Park ranger on New Year's Day came across a small group of campers and used an unusual method to warn them the shooter was at large, writing messages on paper coffee cups and dropping them to the campers telling them of the danger.

Brian Vogt via AP

In this photo provided by Brian Vogt, the campsite of Vogt and his companions are seen as a helicopter hovers nearby at Reflection Lakes at Mount Rainier National Park, Wash., Monday, Jan. 1, 2012.

Read the rest of the story on the Seattle Times.

See our previous PhotoBlog post from the day of the shooting.