Darrell Todd Maurina
A seriously ill Clovis man died from a gunshot on Wednesday evening, while his caretaker suffered a gunshot wound to the thigh.
Police reports show that James “J.O.” Barnett Jr., 83, may have accidentally shot his caretaker, Charles Rocky Williams, before killing himself.
Officer Randy Pitcock wrote in his report that Williams, 48, believed his wound was a ricochet rather than an intentional effort by Barnett to shoot him.
“Williams said he was coming back to the living room and as he approached the doorway, he could see Barnett had a gun in his right hand, cocked, and was looking at it,” Pitcock wrote. “Williams said Barnett had pointed the gun towards him and he backed up towards the kitchen and Barnett fired the gun. Williams said he heard something ricochet and a bullet hit his right leg on the thigh.”
Williams told police that he went into the kitchen to get a wet towel to put on his gunshot wound. Then he heard two more gunshots, came back to the living room, and saw blood on the right side of Barnett’s face.
Williams and his roommate, Cruz Alambar, called 911, but Barnett’s pulse stopped before police arrived.
The incident, which occurred in Barnett’s home in the 100 block of Mesa Avenue, remains under investigation by Clovis detectives.
“We just don’t have enough information at this point,” said Sgt. Rich Johnson of the Clovis police. “Right now the supposition is (the shot to Williams) was not intentionally inflicted. To the best of our knowledge at this point we consider it to be an accident.”
“It was probably to keep (Williams) from going further into the room so (Barnett) could do what he was going to do,” Pitcock said.
Williams, who was treated for his injuries and released from Plains Regional Medical Center, could not be reached for comment on Thursday.
Alambar told police that Barnett had recent surgery to remove a toe and was told he had gangrene in the bone; Barnett also suffered from diabetes and arthritis.
Family members declined to talk publicly about the incident.
Rev. Herbert Bergstrom, former pastor of several Clovis churches and a longtime friend of the family, will conduct the graveside service for Barnett on Tuesday.
“I went to see him a week ago and had a good long visit,” Bergstrom said. “He knew he was terminally ill, facing death. I had no inkling he would have done this. It must have been just a spur of the moment thing and I know it hurt the family deeply.”