North Carolina teacher, coach killed in shootout with Mexican drug cartel

ALAMANCE COUNTY, N.C. — A popular North Carolina teacher and basketball coach died in an April 8 shootout with a Mexican drug cartel, and his brother-in-law is facing a host of charges after a mobile home park erupted in gunfire.

Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson confirmed that Barney Harris, a Spanish teacher and basketball coach at Union Academy Charter School in Monroe, was shot and killed in apparent retaliation for a burglary at the mobile home park that left at least one other man dead, WSOC reported.

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Harris and his brother-in-law, Steven Alexander Stewart, reportedly went to the Green Level mobile home park to steal money and drugs from a stash house belonging to the Sinaloa New Generation Cartel, Johnson said.

Investigators have determined that Harris and Stewart broke into the trailer but were interrupted by 18-year-old cartel member Alonso Beltran Lara, whom they executed for not providing the information they sought. Harris, who was killed in the retaliatory gun battle following Lara’s death, died at the scene after suffering several gunshot wounds, WSOC reported.

Stewart has been charged with first-degree murder, first-degree burglary and possession of a firearm by a felon. No other injuries were reported at the mobile home park, despite investigators finding dozens of bullet casings, Johnson confirmed.

“The trailers that were shot up, it looked like an old Western shootout, that’s what it looked like,” he told the TV station.

Johnson said there is an active warrant for the known occupant of the stash house trailer, Juan Daniel Salinas Lara, for trafficking cocaine, WTVD reported.

Johnson also noted that surveillance footage collected from residents in the mobile home park helped investigators piece together the chain of events, the TV station reported.

According to WSOC, Union Academy hired Harris in 2017 to teach high school Spanish and coach both the varsity men’s basketball and varsity men’s track teams.

In addition to the bodies of Harris and Alonso Beltran Lara, investigators also discovered about two pounds of cocaine and $7,000 in the trailer, WTVD reported.

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