David J. Barnes, 52, owner of Cost Cutters in Kenosha, Racine, Sturtevant and Burlington, died in the crossfire of a shooting in western Jamaica on Saturday, according to a Kenosha Cost Cutters regional office representative.
Barnes and another person were fatally shot and a third person was wounded in the shooting that erupted when police confronted gunmen who were trying to rob a business.
News of Barnes’ death rocked the Kenosha community.
“(He was) probably the kindest, gentlest soul I’ve ever met,” Ron Stevens, CPO of Boys and Girls Club of Kenosha said.
Barnes was on the board of directors for the club for many years. In 2006, he and his wife Michelle were bestowed with the club’s Mary Frost-Ashley Patron Saint Award.
“Whenever you lose a wonderful supporter like David, it sets us on our heels,” Stevens said. “The kids that benefit from all the work that David, Michelle and all supporters like them do, the kids don’t necessarily see it all the time, but it’s there.
“There’s got to be period of mourning here for everybody involved because he was such a big part of the club and such a big part of the history of the organization.”
The Jamaica Observer said Barnes was hit in the crossfire between police and robbers in Savanna-La-Mar, the main town in the western parish of Westmoreland. It is not a community frequented by tourists.
In a statement, the Jamaica Constabulary Force gave few details. It said that shots were fired during the robbery and that a foreign national was killed and another person was wounded. It added that a fugitive identified only by the nickname “Bigga” also was shot and later pronounced dead at a hospital.
A police spokesman did not return calls seeking clarification on whether Barnes was in fact caught in crossfire between law enforcers and criminals as the local newspaper reported.
In the statement, police said a 9 mm pistol was seized from the man identified as Bigga, who it characterized as one of the parish’s most wanted men. It said he was wanted for crimes including murder, rape and armed robbery.
An independent commission that reviews alleged abuses by Jamaica’s security forces has started an investigation.
The U.S. Embassy said its officials informed Barnes’ next of kin and are awaiting an official report from Jamaican authorities.
Kenosha News journalists Rachael Shaff and Diane Giles contributed to this report.