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Then, on June 4, nearly a week after the murder, a social worker named Steve Wilcox drove to the Swinging Bridge, a suspension catwalk over the San Juan River three miles east of Bluff, Utah, where he had planned to eat a picnic lunch. He had not yet gotten out of his car when he noticed a pair of combat boots on the bank beside the river. Then, under a nearby Russian olive tree, he saw a man lying prone, his rifle pointed straight at Wilcox's head. The social worker gunned his car and sped off, only to hear a bullet ricochet in the rocks beside his vehicle.

Responding to Wilcox's 911 call, San Juan County sheriff Kelly Bradford drove out to the Swinging Bridge. By now the rifleman had changed his position. Bradford stepped out of his vehicle and had just put on a bulletproof vest when a slug caught him in the shoulder. It was later ascertained that the marksman, whom Bradford never saw, had hit his target from a distance of 280 yards. Then a second bullet caught him in the side. Knocked off his feet, the sheriff managed to crawl to his car.

Within 15 minutes, another officer arrived, launching an intense but cautious search. During the next four hours, several hundred law officers converged on the banks of the San Juan. A little after 5:30 p.m., they discovered the marksman 400 yards from where Bradford was shot, sitting upright in a hastily dug-out trench. He was dead—a suicide, with a bullet hole in his forehead from a close-range shot.

Robert Mason was wearing full camouflage gear and a Kevlar helmet. A 9-mm Glock pistol and a .308-caliber rifle lay beside him, as did three pipe bombs, many rounds of ammunition, and a backpack.

Ten years later, Mason's demise remains deeply puzzling. After ditching the flatbed in Cross Canyon, the fugitive had made his way on foot, heavily laden, nearly 40 miles to the Swinging Bridge without once being spotted. Experts speculated that he may have walked at night down the streambeds of Cross Canyon and Montezuma Creek, then along the San Juan. Having so skillfully escaped detection, why did he fire at the social worker? And why did he commit suicide, rather than go out in the blazing gun battle he seemed so well equipped to launch?

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  • Also, why did the fugitives steal a water truck? I think they did so that the law would come after t…
  • The article states that the police and the FBI thought the fugitives were planning something big, su…
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  • I was trying to pass through Bluff right after the murder and what a scene it was. Cop cars, choppe…
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