Law enforcement honors two of their own
San Jacinto News- Times - July 2008
COLDSPRING – The San Jacinto County Sheriff’s Department was joined by county offi cials and law enforcement agencies from neighboring counties last Friday to honor a deputy seriously injured last year in the line of duty and a female riding with him in the department’s ridealong program who is credited with saving his life. “We are here today to honor two individuals, Deputy Shawn Barnes and Lee Ann Abernathy-Barnes, for their valor, selfl essness and bravery,” said San Jacinto County Deputy N. Antoniou. “They moved past their fear and did what was needed to be done.
They are an inspiration to us all.” In the early morning hours of July 18, 2007, Shawn and Lee Ann were patrolling an area on Mustang Drive in southern San Jacinto County when Shawn saw a car that had its lights off. Shawn blocked the road and ran the license plate on the vehicle. He then got out of his vehicle and approached the driver. The driver, 19- year-old Dustin Klanders, reached for a weapon and shot Shawn through his hand causing the deputy to lose his service weapon. When Shawn took cover behind the suspect’s SUV, the suspect put the vehicle in reverse, backed over Shawn and then dragged the deputy over 50 feet down a paved road. Lee Ann grabbed a shotgun from the patrol car and began shooting at Klanders’ vehicle.
Klanders was later found dead inside the vehicle about one mile from the shooting scene. Lee Ann, a former San Jacinto County jailer and later employed at the Polunsky Unit in Livingston, was credited for saving Shawn’s life. Following the incident, the two were later married. Among those honoring the couple last week were Polk County Sheriff Kenneth Hammick, Liberty County Sheriff Greg Arthur and Texas Ranger Ron Duff. San Jacinto County Criminal District Attorney Bill Burnett said, “We are gathered to acknowledge the selfless act of Shawn and Lee Ann. Deputy Barnes was seriously injured and faced a long road to recovery to stand before you today.
He is a constant reminder to us all of the threats that peace offi cers face each day. A plaque and medal are but small tokens of our admiration. It is a personal honor and a privilege for me to know Shawn and work with him.” San Jacinto County Judge Fritz Faulkner spoke of the couple’s bravery saying, “They put their lives on the line and nearly lost it to protect us.” Taking the podium San Jacinto County Sheriff Lacy Rogers said, “My deputies are like my own children. I worry about my offi cers every night and day.”
Looking at Shawn and Lee Ann, Rogers said, “You don’t know how proud of you I am.” Sheriff Rogers then presented the Citizen’s Medal of Valor to Lee Ann. A Purple Heart and a Medal of Valor was then presented to Shawn as those attending the ceremony stood and saluted.