(WBIR-PINEVILLE, Ky.) A man who failed a drug test and was going back to jail grabbed a bailiff’s gun and fatally shot
himself at the Bell County Courthouse.
Investigators said Erik B. Barnett, 25, was being taken back into custody before 11 a.m. Wednesday when he overpowered the bailiff and grabbed his weapon.
The bailiff was not injured.
“Once inside the elevator (at the courthouse) an altercation took place between the Bell County bailiff and Mr. Barnett,”
according to a statement from the Kentucky State Police. “The bailiff was knocked to the ground and his weapon was taken from him by Mr. Barnett. Mr. Barnett then suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound while on the elevator.”
The Bell County Sheriff’s Department is investigating why Barnett was not immediately handcuffed after being taken into custody. Any breaches in protocol will be reviewed, according to authorities.
A Kentucky state trooper said the reason Barnett was able to get the bailiff’s gun is because he wasn’t handcuffed.
“Anytime you’re talking about a court house, an individual inside for court, you’ve got to be ready for these situations. And for some reason Mr. Barnett was not handcuffed, and this incident took place,” said Trooper Shane Jacobs of the Kentucky Highway Patrol.
Authorities aren’t discussing the nature of the drug test or its results.
The bailiff involved in the shooting is physically OK, but the sheriff says he’s very shaken up.
The judicial center closed for the rest of the day. It’s expected to reopen Thursday.
Once inside the elevator an altercation took place between the Bell County Bailiff and Mr. Barnett. The bailiff was knocked to the ground and his weapon was taken from him by Mr. Barnett. Mr. Barnett then suffered a self-inflicted gunshot wound while on the elevator. The Bailiff did not receive any medical treatment due to the altercation. Mr. Barnett was pronounced dead at the scene by the Bell County Coroner Jay Steele.
The body has sent to the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Frankfort for an autopsy tomorrow. This case is still under investigation by KSP Det. Jake Wilson.