Mount Carmel Elementary goes on lockdown after car theft suspect spotted on campus

Jeff Bobo • Updated Mar 5, 2019 at 5:01 PM

MOUNT CARMEL — Police were told Tuesday afternoon that auto theft suspect Dustin Amos “Barney” Barnette was armed and dangerous and planned to commit “suicide by cop” rather than go back to jail.

After allegedly abandoning a stolen Toyota Camry on Birch Street shortly before 2 p.m., Barnette was spotted walking on the campus of Mount Carmel Elementary, resulting in the school immediately going on lockdown shortly before students were to be dismissed for the day.

Barnette, 31, of Kingsport, was later arrested without resistance at a fitness center on Main Street while pretending to be interested in starting a membership.

Following his arrest, police learned that Barnette had pending Kingsport Police Department warrants for manufacturing a controlled substance, theft over $10,000, possession of stolen property, evading arrest, two counts of simple possession of narcotics and possession of drug paraphernalia.

The Mount Carmel Police Department was notified shortly before 2 p.m. that a tan Toyota Camry reported stolen in Kingsport had been located on Birch Street just north of the Southern Railroad tracks behind the old Food City Shopping Center.

MCPD Chief Grady White told the Times News that the vehicle had been reported stolen by Barnette’s girlfriend’s mother.

“We were told the suspect had just left the vehicle and was walking down the hill behind the old Food City,” White said. “One of the witnesses said he went across the back end of the school on the lower end next to the railroad tracks, so I went up and put the school on lockdown. A woman called and said she saw him walking westbound along the tree line at the bottom of the playground.”

During a search, police received a report that Barnette was armed with a handgun and had previously stated he would commit suicide by cop before gong back to jail.

Around 3 p.m., Barnette entered the fitness center on Main Street, reportedly intending to elude police by hiding in the store and pretending to be interested in a membership.

White said the business owner became suspicious of Barnette and called police, stating a man who identified himself as “Barney” was on the premises. Police recognized that as the nickname of the man suspected of stealing the Camry.

MCPD Lt. Kenny Lunsford Sr. arrived at the fitness center and took Barnette into custody at 3:07 p.m., after which the lockdown at MCES was lifted.

Barnette was not in possession of a gun at the time of his arrest.

He was being held in the Kingsport City Jail on the outstanding KPD warrants, and additional charges are pending from the MCPD.

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