April 15, 2021 at 4:12 am EDT
By Mark Becker, wsoctv.com
ALAMANCE COUNTY, N.C. — A popular Union County teacher and coach was killed in a shootout last week with a Mexican drug cartel, according to the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office.
Barney Harris was the basketball coach at Union Academy in Monroe where he was well-loved and respected, but Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson said there was another side to Harris that most people didn’t see — one that was involved in the dangerous and deadly drug world.
Channel 9 learned Harris and his brother-in-law, Steven Alexander Stewart, went to a mobile home park on Wyatt Road in Green Level, North Carolina in the early morning hours of April 8 to steal money and drugs from the Sinaloa Cartel’s stash house. …
The Sinaloa Cartel was run by El Chapo.
Detectives said Harris and Stewart broke into a trailer and Lara showed up while they were inside. Deputies said the men questioned Lara about the stash and when he didn’t give them the answers they wanted, they shot him in the head.
“And they were trying to find the money and drugs and apparently he didn’t give them the information to do that and he was technically close range, two bullets to the back of the head, he was executed,” Johnson said.
Johnson said after the pair killed Lara, other members of the cartel showed up and Harris was killed in the gun fight that followed.
According to Johnson, dozens of bullet casings were found at the scene. Some pierced through other trailers in the community, but no other injuries were reported.
“The trailers that were shot up, it looked like an old Western shootout, that’s what it looked like,” Johnson said.
The sheriff said Harris was wearing a bulletproof vest but that it was no match for the high-caliber firepower of the cartel’s guns.
“Mr. Harris, he had a bulletproof vest on, but it did not work with the kind of ammunition that was used,” Johnson said. “He had gloves on, and he, they went there to do what was done except they did not think it was going to backfire on them.”
Detectives believe Harris and Stewart had been using electronic trackers to follow members of the cartel before the shootout.
Harris was hired by Union Academy Charter School in July 2017 as a high school Spanish teacher and served as the head coach for the varsity men’s basketball team and varsity men’s track team.
“It’s just hard to understand,” Johnson said. “The fact that someone like Mr. Harris, who apparently had a pretty good life as a teacher and a coach, wound up in this type of crime.”
Johnson said he is concerned that the shootout could lead to a drug war with the cartel seeking revenge against Harris’ loved ones.
“I’ll tell you right now, as sheriff, I’m still worried about some retaliation because Mexican cartels — they don’t forget. They’re going to pay someone back somewhere,” he said.
Deputies said they found about two pounds of cocaine in the trailer along with $7,000. …
The DEA called Atlanta the cartel’s hub, connecting to secondary hubs in Charlotte, Raleigh and then the coast.
Alamance County, where the shootout happened, is where Interstate 85 and Interstate 40 combine, increasing that drug traffic.
Since Feb. 19, the county has seized 129 kilos of cocaine and $2 million.
No word on whether the high school Spanish teacher had been binge watching Breaking Bad.