A high school teacher from North Carolina was killed last week when he was fatally shot while trying to steal from the house of a Mexican drug cartel member with his brother-in-law, WSOC-TV reports.
The Alamance County Sheriff’s Office said Barney Harris, a Spanish teacher and varsity basketball coach at the charter school Union Academy, and his brother-in-law Steven Alexander Stewart were keeping tabs on the movement of the Sinaloa New Generation Cartel in an effort to find the location of their stash houses. After discovering that one was located at a mobile home park in the town of Green Level, the two headed there in the early morning hours of April 8 for the sole purpose of breaking into the stash house to steal money and drugs.
While inside the home, Harris and Stewart were confronted by Alonso Beltran Lara, 18, a member of the cartel. Lara was questioned by the intruders, but when he wouldn’t reveal where the drugs and money were hidden, he was shot in the back of the head twice. Deputies said they found Lara with his feet bound and his arms tied behind his back.
Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson suspects that after Lara was shot, more members of the cartel showed up, leading to an exchange of gunfire that was heard by several people and reported to police. “It was almost like an old western shootout,” Johnson said, noting that bullet holes were found in three nearby trailers.
Authorities found Harris’ body inside a bedroom with several gunshot wounds. He was pronounced dead at the scene. Harris was wearing a bulletproof vest, but it was no match for the cartel’s level of artillery. Stewart, who survived the exchange, was arrested and charged with first-degree burglary, first-degree murder, and possession of a firearm by a felon.
Authorities found a kilogram of cocaine in a bag near Lara’s body. Juan Daniel Salinas Lara, who was believed to be living in the home, is wanted on a cocaine trafficking charge.
“The UA community is mourning the unexpected loss of teacher and coach Barney Harris,” the school wrote in a since-deleted Facebook post. “UA students, staff and families are asked to wear UA Spirit Wear on Monday, April 12, to celebrate the life of Coach Barney Harris, whose motto, ‘All Love…No Fear,’ will be forever a part of who we are as a school.” Harris’ name no longer appears on the school’s website.