U.S. News

Police Received Worried Calls Days Before North Carolina Killings

For two years, Isaac Barnes turned more and more paranoid.

He spoke of people that needed to “get him” and sought isolation within the woods when not in his bed room in Boone, N.C.

“He didn’t even talk to us at a certain point about how he was feeling,” stated his older sister, Sommer Barnes. “We all felt so helpless.”



Last month, when Mr. Barnes, 32, obtained a routine summons to look for jury obligation, he panicked. He fled into the forest, then returned to his mom’s house a couple of days later.

By midmorning on April 28, he was barricaded there in the middle of a 13-hour standoff with the police. His mom and stepfather, Michelle and George Ligon, and two sheriff’s deputies, Sgt. Chris Ward and Deputy Logan Fox, had been killed.

The police stated the deputies have been shot earlier than the standoff, as they descended basement stairs to verify on Mr. Ligon’s welfare after his employer had referred to as to report his absence. The authorities haven’t stated when the Ligons have been killed or how Mr. Barnes died.

Ms. Barnes stated she needed to speak about her brother’s case as a result of her household had spent days warning officers that he was changing into an increasing number of troubled, and she or he questions how critically the police took the menace that his psychological state posed.

“The message being portrayed is that this was an unavoidable tragedy,” Ms. Barnes stated. “That’s not really true. There were things that could have been done to protect at least the deputies. That’s where my mind keeps landing.”

The Watauga County Sheriff’s Office declined to remark. A spokeswoman for the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation stated the company was investigating the shootings.

Last week, the our bodies of Deputy Fox, 25, and Sergeant Ward, 36, have been carried on horse-drawn carriages through the streets of Boone, a metropolis of about 20,000 people who overlooks the Blue Ridge Mountains.

On Monday, the city requested residents to place a blue bulb of their porch mild to honor the 2 males and to put on a purple ribbon for Ms. Ligon, who labored for the county’s tourism improvement authority, and Mr. Ligon, a department supervisor at Terminix.

“Most of us all know each other,” stated John A. Ward III, the city supervisor. “The officers were well known. They both went to school here. They were from here, they were friends with the cops in town. It was an extremely big hit just due to how familiar everyone was with each other.”

Chief Andy Le Beau of the Boone Police Department, whose officers responded as backup throughout the standoff, stated Mr. Barnes’s case underscored the problem cities face when confronted with households struggling to get their family members assist.

“That’s a nationwide question bigger than little old Boone P.D.,” he stated. “I don’t know that anything could have been done to avoid this situation other than him getting mental health treatment earlier on.”

Ms. Barnes, 34, stated her household struggled to assist her brother, who resisted calls to see a health care provider and by no means obtained a proper prognosis. He had been residing together with his mom and stepfather for 2 years his sister stated.

“They were really compassionate and empathetic people and they knew he was hurting terribly so they welcomed him back home,” stated Kathy Beach, the pastor at Rumple Memorial Presbyterian Church in Blowing Rock, N.C., the place George Ligon had been a longtime member.

Mr. Barnes had as soon as labored in landscaping however stopped after he developed a herniated disk, and have become reclusive, his sister stated. He stopped seeing pals and infrequently left his room besides to flee to the woods close to his father’s home in Avery County, she stated.

Ms. Barnes stated the final time they spoke was a year in the past, when she informed him she was fearful about him.

“That’s as far as I got,” she stated.

He noticed calls to see a health care provider for psychological well being therapy, and even for a bodily situation, “as some sort of nefarious force trying to control his mind,” Ms. Barnes stated.

Ms. Barnes texted continuously along with her mom, who gave her updates about him.

His situation appeared to worsen after his canine died in late March.

“We were all really concerned that that would do something to shake up his mental health,” Ms. Barnes stated.

It was round that point that Mr. Barnes, who had by no means been violent, shoved his mom and stated, “You better not talk to me,” Ms. Barnes stated.

Then the jury summons got here. He fled, took his mom’s debit card and stole $600, Ms. Barnes stated.

While he was within the woods, his automotive broke down and he referred to as his father, Joseph Barnes, for assist, Ms. Barnes stated.

The elder Mr. Barnes took out a software when he arrived, at which level his son accused him of attempting to assault and pulled out a knife, Ms. Barnes stated.

Joseph Barnes fled and referred to as the Avery County Sheriff’s Office to inform them his son was behaving erratically and to watch out in the event that they noticed him.

It is unclear what sort of communication occurred between the Avery and Watauga sheriff’s departments. Officials in Avery County didn’t reply to requests for remark.

Ms. Barnes stated that late on April 27, the day earlier than the shootings, her father went to the Watauga Justice of the Peace’s office to file a report about his son. Ms. Barnes stated her father was on the lookout for assist, presumably by having his son dedicated.

Mr. Barnes declined to be interviewed, and the Justice of the Peace didn’t reply to requests for remark.

Sheriff Len Hagaman of Watauga County has told reporters that his division had obtained calls on Sunday, three days earlier than the capturing, from “concerned folks that know him.”

“They were just trying to give us a heads-up, this is what he’s thinking about doing and for us to be careful,” Sheriff Hagaman stated.

“It was a welfare check,” he stated. “You don’t expect things to be like this. We do that every day.”

In an interview with The Associated Press, Sheriff Hagaman stated that the Ligons contacted his division the day earlier than the standoff and stated they have been involved about Mr. Barnes.

Welfare checks may be harmful and unpredictable, and officers want as a lot info as doable heading into them, stated Chuck Wexler, the manager director of the Police Executive Research Forum, a corporation that gives suggestions for police departments.

Officers may be taught “to slow things down and use time and distance and cover,” he stated. “But then you have a situation like this, which unfolds very quickly and officers attempt to intervene, then wind up dying in the process.”

Credit…Barnes Family

Sheriff Hagaman informed The Associated Press that deputies went to the woods to search for Mr. Barnes after the confrontation together with his father, however didn’t discover him. He stated they didn’t anticipate Mr. Barnes to be on the Ligons’ home on April 28.

Ms. Barnes stated her brother’s driver’s license listed his mom’s tackle.

She stated that her mom and stepfather didn’t maintain weapons in the home and that she nonetheless didn’t understand how her brother obtained firearms.

And she stated she had requested herself repeatedly if the deputies have been warned that her brother might be in the home and within the throes of a psychological well being breakdown.

“This shouldn’t have been treated as an everyday wellness check,” she stated.



Back to top button