Police Received Worried Calls Days Before North Carolina Killings


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

He spoke of people that wished 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,” mentioned his older sister, Sommer Barnes. “We all felt so helpless.”

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

By midmorning on April 28, he was barricaded there in the midst 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 mentioned the deputies have been shot earlier than the standoff, as they descended basement stairs to test on Mr. Ligon’s welfare after his employer had referred to as to report his absence. The authorities haven’t mentioned when the Ligons have been killed or how Mr. Barnes died.

Ms. Barnes mentioned she wished to speak about her brother’s case as a result of her household had spent days warning officers that he was changing into increasingly 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 mentioned. “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 mentioned 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 those that overlooks the Blue Ridge Mountains.

On Monday, the city requested residents to place a blue bulb of their porch gentle to honor the 2 males and to put on a crimson 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,” mentioned 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 through the standoff, mentioned 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 mentioned. “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, mentioned her household struggled to assist her brother, who resisted calls to see a physician and by no means obtained a proper prognosis. He had been residing along with his mom and stepfather for 2 years his sister mentioned.

“They were really compassionate and empathetic people and they knew he was hurting terribly so they welcomed him back home,” mentioned 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 mentioned. He stopped seeing buddies and infrequently left his room besides to flee to the woods close to his father’s home in Avery County, she mentioned.

Ms. Barnes mentioned the final time they spoke was a 12 months in the past, when she advised him she was fearful about him.

“That’s as far as I got,” she mentioned.

He noticed calls to see a physician for psychological well being remedy, and even for a bodily situation, “as some sort of nefarious force trying to control his mind,” Ms. Barnes mentioned.

Ms. Barnes texted ceaselessly 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 mentioned.

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

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

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

The elder Mr. Barnes took out a device when he arrived, at which level his son accused him of making an attempt to assault and pulled out a knife, Ms. Barnes mentioned.

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 mentioned that late on April 27, the day earlier than the shootings, her father went to the Watauga Justice of the Peace’s workplace to file a report about his son. Ms. Barnes mentioned her father was in search of assist, probably 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 mentioned.

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

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

Welfare checks might be harmful and unpredictable, and officers want as a lot data as potential heading into them, mentioned Chuck Wexler, the chief director of the Police Executive Research Forum, a company that gives suggestions for police departments.

Officers might be taught “to slow things down and use time and distance and cover,” he mentioned. “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 advised The Associated Press that deputies went to the woods to search for Mr. Barnes after the confrontation along with his father, however didn’t discover him. He mentioned they didn’t count on Mr. Barnes to be on the Ligons’ home on April 28.

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

She mentioned 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 mentioned she had requested herself repeatedly if the deputies have been warned that her brother could possibly 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 mentioned.



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