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Charleston Police Release Statement, Initial Report On Death Of Boeing Whistleblower

Agency vows to follow “facts and evidence” as John Barnett’s apparent suicide sparks “global attention …”

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The Charleston Police Department (CPD) has released information about the death of Boeing quality control manager-turned-whistleblower John Barnett. Barnett’s apparent suicide has received intense scrutiny in light of his vigorous advocacy on behalf of improved safety procedures at the aerospace giant.

Barnett was discovered dead outside of his Charleston, South Carolina hotel after failing to appear for the final day of an extended deposition related to a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit. His attorney, Brian Knowles, referred to the 62-year-old Louisiana native’s death as “a tragic day.”

“(We) kept calling this morning and his phone would go to voicemail,” Knowles told Corporate Crime Reporter. “We then asked the hotel to check on him.”

According an incident report obtained by FITSNews (.pdf) hotel personnel reported finding a male in a “Clemson orange” Dodge Ram pickup truck with a firearm “in his hand” prior to the arrival of CPD officers.

Once on scene, officers “cautiously approached” the truck, finding Barnett unresponsive “in the driver’s seat with what appeared to be a silver handgun in his right hand resting on his lap, and his right pointer finger still remaining on the trigger.”

Officers used a “slim jim” lock-pick to gain access to the vehicle before removing the the gun from his hand. Officials began processing the scene after EMS personnel determined Barnett was deceased.

(Click to View)

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John Barnett (X via BBC)

According to the report, Barnett “had what appeared to be a gunshot wound near his right temple, and showed no signs of life. Laying in plain view on the passenger seat was a white piece of paper that closely resembled a note.”

No details regarding the contents of the note were included in the report.

The report noted that “surveillance video of Barnett exiting the hotel on the morning of 03/08/2024 is available upon request.” While this video was not included in the redacted report provided to the public, it’s availability to investigators could aid them in determining whether Barnett’s death involved foul play.

Speculation has run rampant as many expressed fears that Barnett didn’t kill himself. Presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy Jr. made it clear he believed foul play was involved.

“The company worked to destroy his life after he exposed safety concerns,” Kennedy wrote on X. “I’m proud that my sister Rory worked to tell his story in her award winning documentary Downfall: The Case Against Boeing. Boeing killed 346 people out of greed. Let’s hope there is a genuine investigation of John Barnett’s ’suicide.’”

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In a statement (.pdf) released this morning CPD said its investigators “understand the global attention this case has garnered,” and that it was their “priority to ensure that the investigation is not influenced by speculation but is led by facts and evidence.”

CPD clarified its initial investigatory belief that Barnett’s “death appears to result from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.”

“Detectives are actively investigating this case and are awaiting the formal cause of death, along with any additional findings that might shed further light on the circumstances surrounding the death of Mr. Barnett,” the statement noted.

Barnett’s obituary described him as a “beloved son, brother, and uncle,” and referenced his decorated career with Boeing – saying he “received numerous awards for exemplifying pride, integrity, and excellence before retiring.”

Services for Barnett will be held at Hixson Brothers Funeral Home in Alexandria, Louisiana on Saturday, March 16, 2024, at 11:00 a.m. CDT, the obituary noted.

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THE INCIDENT REPORT …

(Charleston Police Department)

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Via: Travis Bell)

Dylan Nolan is the director of special projects at FITSNews. He graduated from the Darla Moore school of business in 2021 with an accounting degree. Got a tip or story idea for Dylan? Email him here. You can also engage him socially @DNolan2000.

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2 comments

Consider This March 13, 2024 at 11:19 am

That the gun was still in his hand still, reeks of suspicion. Usually, if the person fired the round that killed themselves, everything, to include muscles of the hand goes limp. The gun likely would have fallen onto the seat or floor, unless the gun were placed in his hand by someone. I hope the coroner doesn’t just let this slide as a suicide, but then you see suspicious cases around the country where coroner’s declare really suspicious deaths to be suicides. Makes one wonder if they were threatened, bribed, or both.

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JustCallMeAva Top fan March 14, 2024 at 8:15 am

Does the Charleston coroner even have any type of medical background? It’s not a requirement at all in SC. And hey, maybe they can get the same forensic pathologist at MUSC who declared that Stephen Smith’s death was a hit and run to do the autopsy.

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