Oskaloosa, IA – Oskaloosa Police Department (OPD) Officer Ian Andrew Barnhart died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head on June 18, according to the Mahaska County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO).
The 23-year-old officer’s body was discovered by his fellow OPD officers at approximately 10 p.m. during a welfare check at his residence in the 100-block of College Avenue, the MCSO said in a press release on June 20.
Officer Barnhart’s body was transported to the Iowa State Medical Examiner’s Office in Ankeny for autopsy.
A preliminary investigation revealed that the young officer died as a result of a “single self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head,” according to the MCSO.
“We are heart-broken as a Department and we know as a community, as well,” the OPD said in a Facebook post. “Thank you so much for all of the heartfelt comments, emails, calls, etc. that you have sent us as we grieve with Officer Barnhart’s family.”
“We know that Ian touched a lot of lives in this community,” the department said in a later post.
Officer Barnhart joined the OPD in 2018, his uncle, Dewayne Walter, told KCWI.
It was his lifelong dream to become a law enforcement officer, Walter said.
He said the fallen officer’s family is struggling to understand why Officer Barnhart made the decision to end his own life.
“There’s a lot of questions that they’re never going to get answers to, and probably the hardest thing right now for them is not being able to have that closure,” he told KCWI.
Walter said they hope that Officer Barnhart’s death will help raise awareness about mental illness in the community.
“Talk to somebody,” he implored. “You can’t reiterate that enough. If you’re having issues, no matter who it is, call. Talk to somebody.”
Officer Barnhart leaves behind his parents, stepparents, siblings, and grandparents, according to his obituary.
He is also survived by his nephew, niece, and many friends and extended family members.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Oskaloosa Police Department Officer Ian Andrew Barnhart, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Rest easy, hero. We’ll hold the line from here.