North Carolina teacher killed in shootout with drug cartel

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Biba Adams
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Barney Dale Harris taught Spanish and was head coach of the varsity basketball and track teams at Union Academy Charter School.

A North Carolina teacher was killed in what authorities have described as an “old Western shootout” with members of a Mexican drug cartel.

Barney Dale Harris taught Spanish and was head coach of the varsity basketball and track teams at Union Academy Charter School in Monroe, North Carolina, 27 miles outside of Charlotte. Harris was found dead in what authorities have described as a trailer being used as a drug “stash house.”

Barney Dale Harris taught Spanish and was head coach of the varsity basketball and track teams at Union Academy Charter School in Monroe, North Carolina. (Alamance County Sheriff’s Office)
Barney Dale Harris taught Spanish and was head coach of the varsity basketball and track teams at Union Academy Charter School in Monroe, North Carolina. (Alamance County Sheriff’s Office)

Harris and his brother-in-law, Steven Alexander Stewart, reportedly went to a mobile home park to steal money and drugs from the stash house and at one point were met with gunshots. The man was found wearing a face covering, gloves and a bulletproof vest.

Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson said it looked like the trailer had been “ransacked.”

A possible drug-runner for the cartel, Alonso Beltran Lara, was also found inside the trailer shot “execution-style” and died at a local hospital. Just over a kilo of cocaine, five guns and $7,000 in cash were also inside.

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Lara reportedly arrived in the middle of the robbery and was questioned by Harris and Stewart, one of whom is suspected of shooting him in the back of the head.

“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, according to WSOC-TV.

Johnson said Stewart, who is from Wadesboro, survived the shooting and was arrested on Sunday. He has been charged with first-degree burglary, first-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a felon.

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“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.”

The school were Harris taught sent a local news outlet a statement that read, in part: “The Union Academy family was shocked and devastated to hear the information and will continue to focus on supporting our students and families.”

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