BOLTON A Bolton man shot and killed his wife and killed himself Tuesday morning in a Thunderbird Road home, prompting a massive police response as officers tried to determine where the shooter was before armed officers found both dead in their home, authorities said.
Warren County Sheriff Bud York said the man was believed to have shot the woman with a rifle before turning the gun on himself. A 20-year-old daughter of the couple was believed to have witnessed the shooting of her mother, recording at least part of the attack with an electronic device, then fleeing the home to a neighbor’s for help, York said.
York said the couple was believed to be David J. Barnes, 55, and his 46-year-old wife, Kimberly D. Barnes, but final determination of their identities would take place during an autopsy.
Mrs. Barnes was believed to have moved out of the home to stay with her mother in Corinth earlier this fall but returned to the home Tuesday to retrieve belongings when she was confronted by her husband, police said.
Her return to the home when he was there apparently angered him, and as he yelled at her he got a large-caliber long gun from another room and shot her in the kitchen, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
“We believe the husband shot his wife and then took his own life,” York said.
Warren County sheriff’s officers, State Police and Bolton Police responded to a report just before 8 a.m. of a man firing a gun at a woman inside the home. At least 15 police cars were in the neighborhood within a half-hour of the call.
According to York, the couple’s oldest daughter witnessed the shootings and ran from the home to a neighbor’s home across the street. Five shots were reported, two occurring after the young woman fled the home, York said.
The woman told police that Mr. Barnes said he would shoot police officers who responded, York said.
Police got no response as they tried to contact Mr. Barnes, and found no evidence he had left the home.
The Sheriff’s Office had its emergency response team go to the home in the department’s MRAP armored vehicle. Officers toting assault rifles and wearing body armor approached the home at about 10:30 a.m. and opened a front door to send in a small robot to see what was inside.
Police monitoring the robot through its camera could see two people unconscious and with apparent serious head injuries in the kitchen area of the ranch home. Members of the emergency response team then went inside and found the two people were dead, York said.
Police said the couple had three daughters, ages 20, 17 and 9. The two younger children were in school at Lake George at the time, and county crime victims specialists were assisting the family later Tuesday.
Lake George School Superintendent Patrick Dee sent a letter home to families in the district on Tuesday, and crisis counseling will be made available to students. Dee said parents were asked to keep a particularly close eye on their children’s emotions in light of the tragedy.
Both the Sheriff’s Office and State Police said they had no prior reports of domestic violence at the home, authorities said. The couple had owned the home since 1993.
What led up to the shooting was unclear, but the woman who fled the home told police the couple had been arguing in the moments before the gunfire. The daughter may have recorded some of the argument on a portable device before the shootings, authorities said.
Mr. Barnes owned Aquawood Pools on Route 9 in Moreau. Mrs. Barnes worked as a registered nurse at Glens Falls Hospital, and assistance was being offered to any of her co-workers who sought it, hospital spokeswoman Heather Rivenburg said. Mrs. Barnes had worked there for about three months.
Mrs. Barnes’ mother came to the area to pick up the older girl as police surrounded the home.
Some homes in the surrounding area, which is just north of the Lake George town line, were evacuated as police surrounded the home, waiting for Mr. Barnes to be located. Brereton Road and Thunderbird Road were both closed for several hours.
Bolton Police Chief James Neumann said his department had not had any prior problems at the home that he had been made aware of.
“This is a quiet little dead-end road,” he said. “We never have any problems here.”
Neighbor David Dougall said the neighborhood, which overlooks Lake George, has a mixture of seasonal and year-round homes. He said he knew the family to wave to when they passed by and had not seen any signs of trouble.
“I would see him out playing with the girls. Just the other day, the girls were out riding their scooters and he was out there with them,” Dougall said. “I just can’t believe it.”
Dougall, who lives two homes away from the Barnes home, said he did not hear gunshots but opened a window shade Tuesday morning to see police cars lining Brereton Road, a steep hill that runs between Route 9N and Coolidge Hill Road.
One neighbor said Barnes had a history of problems with a seasonal resident who lived next door to him, including a dispute over a fence. Other neighbors, including the people to whose home the witness to the shooting fled, would not discuss the situation later Tuesday.
York said the case was the first time the Sheriff’s Office has had to use its MRAP — a former military vehicle the county purchased from the federal government for $1 — in the field. The massive vehicle, which was used in combat in Iraq, is bulletproof and was retrofitted for use by the Sheriff’s Office for standoffs and rescue calls.
The vehicle, as well as the robot that was put in the home, were the subject of criticism by York’s opponent in the recent race for sheriff — Larry Cleveland — who questioned the “militarization” of the agency. But York said the equipment’s value was clear Tuesday.
“It keeps officers safe,” he said of the MRAP. “We were able to get them in front of the house with no risk to their safety. The alternative was sending officers in not knowing what they were going to find.”
The killing was the first homicide in Warren County in nearly two years. The last was the fatal stabbing of a Lake Luzerne woman by her estranged husband on Christmas Eve in 2013.