TBI releases identities of victims in Marion County murder-suicide

Staff Photo by Ellen Gerst / Six people were killed and the home set afire on Pine Street in Sequatchie, Tenn., during the night of June 15. The scene was photographed on June 16.
Staff Photo by Ellen Gerst / Six people were killed and the home set afire on Pine Street in Sequatchie, Tenn., during the night of June 15. The scene was photographed on June 16.

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has released more information about the three adults and three children killed last week in an apparent murder-suicide in a Marion County home that was set on fire.

The alleged shooter was identified as Gary Don Barnett, 48, and the adult victims were identified as his estranged wife Regina Ann Barnett, 52, and her daughter, Brittnee N. Perez, 33.

The three children found in the home were identified as Perez's children, two girls and a boy aged 11, 6 and 2, respectively. The 6-year-old girl and 2-year-old boy were both due to have birthdays Friday.

The bodies of all six were found throughout the home, Marion County Sheriff Ronnie "Bo" Burnett previously told the Chattanooga Times Free Press. The adults and at least one of the children had apparent gunshot wounds, he said.

Another man was shot multiple times but survived. He was taken to an area hospital for treatment and is cooperating with investigators, Burnett said.

According to a GoFundMe page, the survivor is Perez's fiance, Aaron Pursley. The page, set up by his cousin A.J. Childress, said Pursley was shot three times -- in the right hand, back of his right shoulder and left side of his abdomen. The fundraising page also said Pursley suffered a collapsed lung, three broken ribs and lost a finger.

The Barnetts' neighbors told the Times Free Press they could often hear the couple shouting and arguing. The Barnetts were separated and in the process of getting a divorce, neighbors said.

A Marion County General Sessions Court judge in December granted Regina Barnett a no-contact order after she said her husband threatened to shoot her.

"He also has anywhere from 50 to 60 guns in his room," Regina Barnett wrote in an application for a restraining order. "I am afraid he will get drunk and shoot me."

The no-contact order was still active at the time of the incident, and Gary Barnett was also charged with domestic assault, according to court documents.

Days before the incident, Gary Barnett made threatening posts on his social Facebook page including a repost from a TikTok user who mentions the unfairness men face during a breakup.

Gary Barnett posted a meme quoting automotive muffler repair shop owner Marvin John Heemeyer on June 11.

"I was always willing to be reasonable until I had to be unreasonable," the post said. "Sometimes reasonable men do unreasonable things."

Heemeyer died as a result of suicide by gunshot after bulldozing the Grandy, Colorado, Town Hall building, the house of the former mayor and several other buildings in 2004, according to news reports. Heemeyer was facing fines for operating buildings on a property with no sewage system. Heemeyer shot himself after his bulldozer got stuck in the basement of a hardware store he was destroying, according to reports.

Anyone experiencing domestic violence can call 423-755-2700 for the crisis hotline at the Partnership for Families, Children and Adults, which is based in Chattanooga and serves Marion County as well.

Contact La Shawn Pagán at lpagan@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6476.

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