UNION COUNTY, N.C. (WJZY) – A Union County coach died in a shootout with a Mexican cartel on April 8.
Barney Harris coached basketball, track, and taught Spanish at Union Charter Academy. Some say he was loved by his students, but investigators in Alamance County say Harris allegedly plotted to rob a drug stash house and died.
“Sometimes you don’t know what people are doing,” said Sonya Martinez, a rival coach in the Monroe recreational leagues.
A lot of people didn’t know this side of Barney Harris. Investigators with the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office don’t know the full details of what happened when Harris allegedly broke into a drug stash house to rob the men living there of drugs and money. They do know a shootout ensued.
“What was found was over 30-something shell casings in the trailer and outside of the trailer,” said Terry Johnson, Alamance County Sheriff. “Three other mobile homes in the park had bullet holes in them.”
Harris died at the scene and investigators say Alonzo Beltran Lara, a drug runner for a Mexican cartel, was shot twice and died later at the hospital.
“They have been here before,” Johnson said. “There is some video footage off of Mr. Harris’ phone. They had been here looking before.”
That is what’s so shocking to people. Barney Harris was found in a room wearing a bulletproof vest, gloves and face covering.
Not the usual guy they knew.
“The man that I met, he was a cool guy,” said Martinez. “Cool and like I said, the kids liked him.”
The school where Harris coached, and taught Spanish echoed those sentiments, a long Facebook post was on the Union Charter Academy Facebook page when he died, asking people to celebrate the life of Harris.
An hour after the news conference all mentions of the coach were deleted, and authorities hope others erase their memory before something else bad happens.
“I’ll tell you right now, as the sheriff, I’m still worried about some retaliation,” said Johnson. “Because the Mexican cartel, they don’t forget. They’re going to make somebody pay.”
The Alamance Sheriff’s office says the case is still under investigation. Authorities did arrest Harris’ brother-in-law Steven Stewart Junior, who they say was also involved in the alleged crime.