If you witness a crime, here’s what to do
It’s been two days since her husband’s death, but Coty Barnett is still going in circles around the home she shares with her three children in her husband’s t-shirt.
Barnett, 29, said her husband Zachary Barnett, 32, was the man shot and killed Saturday in what deputies have said started as a road rage incident.
The sheriff’s office has not released the names of either man involved in the case.
Coty Barnett said the sheriff’s office told her the incident started when Zachary Barnett drove the other man off the road.
Zachary Barnett was driving east on Buckeye Road near U.S. 301 about 5:15 p.m. Saturday. A second driver, a 24-year-old man, told deputies they saw another man drive in and out of his lane. The younger man told deputies that the other driver, Barnett, ran him off the road, according to the sheriff’s office.
Barnett pulled over, while the other driver circled back and pulled up beside him. The two drivers exchanged words, according to a sheriff’s office news release.
Eventually, the older man, Barnett, went up to the passenger side of the other driver’s vehicle and leaned into the open window. The driver told him to back away, picked up his gun and pointed it at the man, according to the sheriff’s office.
That’s when the older man pulled out a gun of his own. The other driver fired his gun, striking and killing the man Coty Barnett identified as her husband, according to the sheriff’s office.
Randy Warren, spokesman for the sheriff’s office, said the shooting remains under investigation Monday.
The investigation is leaning toward the incident being an act of self defense, however, Warren said they are “in no rush to come to that conclusion.”
“Based on the evidence collected at the scene and an interview with (the 24-year-old), based on what he’s telling us this was an act of self defense. We still have a lot of work to do,” Warren said.
The State Attorney’s Office is involved in the investigation, which is considered a death investigation, and will review it.
As of Monday, no charges were filed.
The names of those involved were not initially released by the sheriff’s office due to the ongoing investigation and after the 24-year-old and Barnett’s family opted into Marsy’s Law. The law is new legislation passed by Florida voters in November as Amendment 6 on the ballot, which aimed to protect the victims of crime by requiring certain notifications of court proceedings and also the “right to prevent disclosure of information or records that could be used to locate or harass a victim or their family or disclose confidential information.”
Warren said they have reason to believe the 24-year-old is the victim of an aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, which would allow him to invoke the protections of Marsy’s Law.
However, should investigators determine a crime occurred and he is charged, his name would be released.
Coty Barnett said her husband, who she has been with since 2012 and married to since 2014, was a laid-back person more inclined to make jokes than pull out a gun.
“He’s not a person that would have caused something like this,” Barnett said of her late husband, a ranch hand from Parrish.
She remembered her husband and best friend as a hard worker. and someone who lit up the room.
“His goal was for his family to be happy,” Barnett said. “Now he doesn’t get the chance to do that.”
His job allowed them to live in a home on the ranch where he worked, but now his wife and three children, a 4-year-old girl, a 2-year-old girl and a 9-month-old boy, will have to leave.
Barnett said her family is there helping her, but it’s really just “hour by hour” and the realization of what happened comes in waves.
A GoFundMe has been started by Coty’s sister to provide funds to help the family.
As of 3 p.m. Monday, the crowd-funding website had raised $1,530 toward a goal of $5,000.
Coty Barnett said the support they’ve received so far has been overwhelming. She asked anyone who saw anything around the time of her husband’s shooting to report it to the authorities.
She still wonders why the other man turned around and didn’t drive away when confronted by her husband.
“He came back and started an argument and now my husband’s dead,” Barnett said.
She admits her husband “doesn’t have a perfect past,” but said he “turned his whole life around.”
Zachary Barnett had previously had his license suspended, court records show. A probable cause affidavit for a 2009 charge of driving with a suspended license showed deputies reported Barnett had his license suspended in April 2009.