A North Carolina community is in shock after a popular charter school teacher was killed in a shootout on Thursday, revealing his involvement with a criminal enterprise.
In a plot straight out of Breaking Bad, teacher Barney Dale Harris, along with a team of people, was reportedly trying to rob a Mexican drug cartel’s stash house when he was shot execution style. According to investigators, the team is believed to have broken into a trailer at a mobile home park in Green Level, North Carolina to steal drugs and money.
Police responded to reports of gunshots heard in the area at around 12:52 a.m.; upon arriving at the scene, they found the educator — who was wearing a bulletproof vest, mask, and gloves — and an accomplice with multiple gunshot wounds. Harris was pronounced dead at the scene, while the other victim, later identified as Alonso Beltran Lara, was brought to a local hospital where he later died.
During a Wednesday press conference, the sheriff’s office said detectives had found that Harris and Lara were part of separate “criminal enterprises.” Lara, who lived in the trailer, was believed to be a drug runner for the Sinaloa New Generation Cartel, and the trailer was believed to be the cartel’s stash house. Authorities said that Harris was believed to be a part of another criminal enterprise alongside his brother-in-law Steven Alexander Stewart Jr., who was attempting to rob the stash house.
Detectives used phone records to surmise that Harris entered the trailer while Lara was away and ambushed him when he came back. Lara was shot in the back of the head execution-style and died later in the hospital. But at some point, a shootout went down involving other people — which police described as similar to an “old Western shootout.”
In addition to the 30 shell casings detectives found in and around the trailer, they seized 1.2 kilograms of suspected cocaine, five guns, and about $7,000 in cash.
Harris was a beloved Spanish teacher and basketball, track, and football coach at Union Academy Charter School. In the wake of his grisly death, many who knew him were left dismayed.
In a statement to WBTV, the school said they were “shocked and devastated” by the news of Harris’ death, sharing in a statement:
“Union Academy’s first priority is caring for and protecting our students and staff. 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. Any questions about the investigation should be directed to law enforcement.”
The GoFundMe page set up to help Harris’ widow and their three children paints him as someone very different to the man involved in the execution of a fellow criminal. The page describes him as a “dedicated” teacher, adding:
“The encouragement and motivation he gave both his students and athletes was priceless.”
Meanwhile, Harris’ brother-in-law was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and first-degree burglary in connection with the incident. The investigation is ongoing and additional charges are possible.
[Image via AMC/Netflix.]