Fort Worth

They nicknamed him Tarrant County, and he took a bullet for his school in Santa Fe

Santa Fe, Texas, school resource officer John Barnes, right, is shown in 2014 receiving a commendation for his work as a sex crimes investigator from former Houston Police Department Chief Charles A. McClelland. Barnes was badly wounded Friday at Santa Fe High School confronting a gunman who killed 10 people.
Santa Fe, Texas, school resource officer John Barnes, right, is shown in 2014 receiving a commendation for his work as a sex crimes investigator from former Houston Police Department Chief Charles A. McClelland. Barnes was badly wounded Friday at Santa Fe High School confronting a gunman who killed 10 people.

John Barnes never forgot the Tarrant County Sheriff's Department where he began a career in law enforcement.

In fact, his co-workers nicknamed him for the county.

Now, Barnes is being hailed as a hero in the town of Santa Fe, Texas.

Barnes, who joined the Santa Fe school district as a school resource officer in January, was struck with a shotgun blast to the arm Friday during the mass shooting at the town's high school.

Barnes and another officer confronted Dimitrios Pagourtzis, a 17-year-old high school junior accused of killing 10 people and wounding at least 10 others.

"I was just shaken by anger and frustration that this still keeps happening even after the Parkland shooting." Watch as students and parents honor victims of the latest school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas.

"Had they not engaged him it could have been a whole lot worse," said Craig Driskell, Tarrant County executive chief deputy.

Driskell said that Barnes, 49, retired in January after more than 23 years with the Houston Police Department, which ended with him working in the special investigations unit that focuses on internet crimes against children. Barnes joined the Santa Fe school district the next day.

Barnes started working as a detention officer in the Tarrant County Jail in 1994 and then became a deputy before moving to Houston, where his co-workers to this day call him "Tarrant County," Driskell said.

"I thought it was kind of cool," Driskell said. "He never forgot us and we certainly have never forgotten him. We still consider him family."

But after Friday's shooting, Barnes will have a long road to recovery, Driskell said.

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John Barnes, 49, started his law enforcement career with the Tarrant County Sheriff's Department in 1991. Barnes was struck in the arm in March by a shotgun blast at Santa Fe High School while protecting students. Courtesy Badge & Gun, official publication of the Houston Police Officer's Union

Barnes was taken in critical condition to University of Texas Medical Branch Galveston, where the heart of the injured officer stopped twice as paramedics and doctors worked to stem bleeding from wounds in both arms and repair the damage caused by the shooter, according to reporting from the Houston Chronicle.

Those wishing to donate to offset medical expenses for the Barnes family can contact any Tarrant County's Credit Union location and ask for the Tarrant County Law Enforcement Association (TCLEA) Emergency Relief Fund, Driskell said.

"We want people to keep John and his family in their prayers," Driskell said.

Students at a Texas high school where at least one gun man opened fire Friday recount what took place that morning. One person is in custody, and a second person has been detained.

Dispatch audio of the first dispatch call and when police officers enter Santa Fe High School during the school shooting. Audio source: Broadcastify

Mitch Mitchell: 817-390-7752, @mitchmitchel3

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