Green Level, NC – A popular North Carolina high school teacher and varsity basketball coach was found dead following what the sheriff called an “old Western shootout” with members of a Mexican drug cartel after he tried to rob them.
The incident occurred just before 1 a.m. on April 8 after Alamance County 911 received a call about multiple gunshots fired from a mobile home on Wyatt Road in Green Level, according to the Charlotte Observer.
Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson said that 40-year-old Barney Harris and his brother-in-law, 32-year-old Steven Stewart Jr., went to the “stash house” to rob a drug runner for a Mexican drug cartel named Alonso Beltran Lara.
Sheriff Johnson said investigators believed that Harris and Stewart arrived at the mobile home and hid waiting for the 18-year-old Lara to arrive, the Charlotte Observer reported.
When he got there, Harris and Stewart questioned Lara about money and drugs, WLS reported.
Officials have said that when Lara didn’t answer their questions, he was shot in the head.
Investigators have that Harris and Stewart tied Lara’s hands behind his back, took him outside, and shot him in the head twice “execution style,” the Charlotte Observer reported.
Later, other Mexican drug cartel members showed up and a gunfight ensued.
Sheriff Johnson said that Harris was found shot to death on a bed wearing a ballistic vest, WLS reported.
Lara was still alive when authorities arrived on the seen but he was later pronounced dead at the hospital, according to the Charlotte Observer.
Sheriff Johnson said the stash house had been ransacked but deputies found $7,000 in cash and 2.6 pounds of cocaine at the scene when they conducted a legal search.
He said investigators thought Harris and Stewart had been tracking drug cartel members using an electronic device.
The sheriff said it was apparent that Harris, a popular Spanish teacher and varsity football coach at Union Academy Charter School in Monroe, was living a double life, WLS reported.
Harris’ body was found riddled with bullets in a trailer park about 140 miles from the school.
Sheriff Johnson predicted that the drug cartel wouldn’t take the assault on its member lying down, the Charlotte Observer reported.
“To this day as sheriff, I’ll tell you right now, I’m still worried about some retaliation, because the Mexican cartels, they don’t forget, they’re gonna pay back somebody, somewhere,” he said. “And that concerns me greatly as sheriff of this county.”
Stewart was arrested and charged with first-degree burglary and first-degree murder, according to the Charlotte Observer.