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Investigation concludes Boeing whistleblower John Barnett committed suicide

May 18, 2024

Police have concluded that Boeing whistleblower John Barnett found dead in his vehicle had committed suicide, ending the investigation into his death

Police have concluded that John Barnett, a former Boeing quality manager and whistleblower, committed suicide.

Barnett, 62, was found dead in his vehicle on March 9 from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. This conclusion brings to an end the investigation into his death, which had prompted public speculation and calls for a thorough examination.

Barnett had been in Charleston for depositions related to his whistleblower lawsuit against Boeing. When he failed to attend a scheduled session, officers responded to a welfare check at a Holiday Inn. They discovered him in the driver’s seat of his truck, holding a handgun.

The investigation revealed that Barnett was shot in the head at close range, and a notebook found in the vehicle indicated he was experiencing severe personal distress.

The Charleston Police Department’s investigation confirmed suicide as the cause of death. A ballistics report linked the bullet to the firearm found in Barnett’s hand, and an autopsy confirmed the self-inflicted nature of the wound. The notebook contained messages directed at Boeing and expressed Barnett’s anguish and love for his family. “I can’t do this any longer,” Barnett wrote. “I pray Boeing pays.”

Barnett, who worked at Boeing for over three decades, became a whistleblower in 2019. He raised concerns about unsafe wiring clusters and defective oxygen tanks in Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner manufacturing process.

His lawsuit, filed in 2021, alleged that Boeing retaliated against him for speaking out. Barnett’s brother, Rodney, said: “Rather than address his concerns, the company subjected him to retaliation for speaking out.”

Barnett’s mother, Vicky Stokes, blamed Boeing for her son’s mental distress. She stated: “If this hadn’t gone on so long, I’d still have my son. My sons would have their brother, and we wouldn’t be sitting here.” Barnett’s family and attorneys continue to pursue his whistleblower case, which is set for trial in September.

Boeing expressed condolences following Barnett’s death. “We are saddened by Mr. Barnett’s passing, and our thoughts are with his family and friends,” the company said. Boeing previously addressed his safety concerns, claiming to have reviewed and rectified the issues Barnett had raised. Brad Zaback, a site leader at Boeing, said: “The Times’ report paints a skewed and inaccurate picture of the program and our team.”

Barnett’s brother emphasized John’s commitment to ensuring safety. “He thought of himself as trying to do the right thing. And that’s what bothered him, that nobody would listen as to what was going on there,” Rodney Barnett said.

The Charleston Police Department stressed the importance of factual accuracy in their investigation. “Our investigation was guided strictly by facts and evidence while remaining undisturbed by conjecture and external pressures,” a spokesperson stated.

As the legal battle continues, Barnett’s family remains determined to seek justice for the man who spent his career advocating for safety in aviation.

Source: Newsroom

Last Updated:  May 31, 2024 4:43 PM