ALAMANCE COUNTY, N.C. (WSOC/Meredith) -- A popular and well-respected teacher and coach was killed in a shootout last week with a Mexican drug cartel, according to local authorities.
The sheriff in Alamance County said the teacher apparently was living a double-life, and there was a side to him that most people didn’t know.
The shootout took place April 8 in a mobile home community in Green Level, North Carolina. Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson said deputies found two people dead in one of the trailers.
The two people found dead were 18-year-old Alonso Beltran Lara, a member of a Mexican drug cartel, and Barney Harris, a popular teacher and basketball coach from Union Academy in Monroe, North Carolina.
"A gun was found, bulletproof glass, gloves, etcetera, because it looks like, it looked like the trailers that were all shot up, it looked like, uh, a Western shootout is what it looked like,” Johnson said.
The sheriff said Harris and his brother-in-law Steven Stewart had used electronic trackers to follow the cartels, drugs, and money to the trailer. He said they then broke in early Thursday to steal the stash when Beltran Lara showed up.
"And they were trying to find the money and the drugs. And apparently he didn't give him the information to do that,” Johnson said. “And he was technically-- they were close range, two bullet holes in the back of the head, he was executed.”
The sheriff said the other cartel members showed up, and Harris was killed in the shootout that followed.
Harris was wearing a bulletproof vest, Johnson said, but it proved to be no match for the high caliber firepower the cartel was packing.
Deputies said they found about two pounds of cocaine in the trailer, along with $7,000 in cash.
Officers later arrested Harris’s brother-in-law in Wadesboro, North Carolina. Steven Stewart is now charged with murder and robbery, but no one can explain why Barney Harris was allegedly living a dangerous and ultimately deadly double-life taking on a Mexcian cartel.
"It's just hard to, to understand like I say, the fact that someone like Mr. Harris, who apparently had a pretty good life as a teacher and a coach winds up in this type of crime,” Johnson said.
The sheriff said there is good reason to believe this incident won’t be the end of it and said he is worried about retaliation.