A popular high school teacher and basketball coach in North Carolina was killed in an “old Western shootout” after attempting to rob members of a Mexican drug cartel.
Barney Dale Harris is believed to have broken into a trailer at a mobile home park in Green Level, North Carolina to steal drugs and money, according to the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office. Police responded to the scene on Thursday, April 8, around 12:52 a.m. following reports of gunshots heard in the area. Upon arrival, Harris and another male were found with multiple gunshot wounds, authorities said.
Harris wore a bulletproof vest, mask, and gloves and was pronounced dead at the scene, People reports. The other victim was identified as Alonso Beltran Lara. He was transported to a nearby hospital but later died from his injuries. Harris and Lara are believed to be “a part of separate criminal enterprises,” authorities said.
Investigators believe Lara, who lived at the residence, was a drug runner for the Sinaloa New Generation Cartel and used the trailer as a stash house. Harris and his brother-in-law Steven Alexander Stewart Jr. went to the stash house in an attempt to rob it, authorities said. At some point, a shootout involving multiple people ensued. Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson compared the gunfight to an “old Western shootout, during a press conference on Wednesday.
When reviewing the area, investigators found 30 shell casings around the trailer. Authorities seized five firearms, $7,000 in cash, and 1.2 kilograms of suspected cocaine, the news release said. Those who knew Harris have been left saddened and shocked by the news. Harris worked as a Spanish teacher and basketball, track, and football coach at Union Academy Charter School.
“Union Academy’s first priority is caring for and protecting our students and staff,” the school said in a statement to WBTV. “Earlier today, law enforcement released details about last week’s death of one of our teachers, Barney Dale Harris II. The Union Academy family was shocked and devastated to hear the information and will continue to focus on supporting our students and families.”
Supporters set up a GoFundMe for Harris’s widow and three children. His loved ones described him as a “dedicated” teacher who “never met a stranger and the encouragement and motivation he gave both his students and athletes was priceless,” People reports.
Harris’s brother-in-law, Steven Alexander Stewart, Jr., has since been arrested and charged with first-degree burglary, first-degree murder, and possession of a firearm by a felon. He is being held in the Alamance County Detention Center without bond, deputies said. Police are also looking for Juan Daniel Salinas Lara in connection to the case.