Beloved NC Basketball Coach Dies in Shootout with the Sinaloa Drug Cartel

(U.S. law enforcement via AP, File)

Truth is truly stranger than fiction.

Your Friday News of the Weird, from WBTV News of North Carolina:

A Union County charter school teacher-coach was killed in a shootout involving a drug cartel in North Carolina.

The incident happened at a mobile home park on Wyatt Road Lot 27 in Green Level, North Carolina on Thursday, April 8 at 12:52 a.m.

Alamance County Sheriff’s deputies arrived and found two people shot inside the trailer.

Barney Dale Harris was pronounced dead at the scene, and Alonso Beltran Lara was taken to a local hospital, but later passed away from his injuries.

Barney Dale Harris was reportedly a beloved basketball coach and teacher at Union Academy Charter School in Monroe, NC. Monroe is in Union County, but the crimes happened in Alamance County, which, according to my local colleague Sister Toldjah, is about a 2.5-hour drive.

From the Local ABC 11 News:

Barney Harris, a basketball coach at Union Academy in Monroe was well-loved and respected, but Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson said, on the side, Harris was involved in the “dangerous and deadly” drug world.

“I can tell you right now, when we are dealing with the Mexican drug cartel, someone is going to die as a result of this,” Johnson said.

Either the charter school did not pay him well enough, or Harris just wanted to take a walk on the wild side. From the ongoing investigation and the press conference (below), this is not a situation of wrong place, wrong time.

From CBS Sports:

Barney Harris, the man identified as the teacher, was a basketball and track coach at Union Academy. According to the Alamance County Sheriff’s Office, Harris and his brother-in-law, broke into what is believed to be a stash house for a Mexican drug cartel. Law enforcement believes the two were trying to steal money and drugs from the home.

According to police, Harris’ brother-in-law shot a drug runner for the cartel, which kicked off the shootout. Harris was then shot multiple times and found dead when officers arrived at the scene. Police also reportedly seized 1.2 kilograms of suspected cocaine, five guns and about $7,000 in cash.

According to the WBTV report, Harris was wearing a bulletproof vest. Confirmation that he was prepared for something, but probably not this.

I know coaches aren’t hired for their mental prowess, but why would you even get it into your head to rob any drug cartel? They chose the mother of all cartels, the Sinaloa New Generation Cartel. For those unfamiliar, this is part of the infamous cartel started by Joaquín Guzmán Loera, more famously known as “El Chapo”.

The Sinaloa Cartel has the biggest presence in the United States. It runs distribution hubs in the West Coast, Midwest, and the Northeast. It is clear that internal wrangles over the control of the organization, after the capture of El Chapo, had minimal impact on its operations. The organization is currently run by El Chapo’s sons Ovidio Guzmán López, Iván Archivaldo Guzmán, Jesús Alfredo Guzmán Salazar, and Joaquín Guzmán López.

It is a classic analogy of bringing a knife to a gunfight; even though it was a gunfight.

The brother-in-law has been arraigned for first-degree burglary, first-degree murder, and illegal possession of a firearm (he was a felon).

Another person connected to the crime, Steven Alexander Stewart, Jr., was arrested and charged with first-degree burglary in relation to the Wyatt Road incident on Sunday, April 11 at 1 a.m.

On Monday, April 12, Stewart was charged with first-degree murder and possession of a firearm by a felon. He is being held in the Alamance County Detention Center without bond and had a first appearance in court on Tuesday, April 13, 2021, at 2:00 p.m.

Juan Daniel Salinas Lara is wanted in reference to this case and has active warrants for trafficking in cocaine.

Good coverage by some real press down in North Carolina of the Alamance County Sheriff Terry Johnson’s press conference.