A teen in Prairie Township, Ohio, who may have been playing an extremely poorly thought-out prank on a former friend — breaking into his ex-buddy’s house in the middle of the night wearing an Insane Clown Posse mask and wielding a knife — died Sunday morning after the ex-friend’s frightened mom shot him in the back, according to police accounts.
Reb Barbee, 17, a senior at Hilliard Bradley High School, died just after 6 a.m. Sunday morning at a nearby hospital — but police say his life could likely have been saved had any of his fellow teens — who helped him break into the home of 37-year-old Heather Tackett and her 17-year-old son, Jacob — had thought to call 911.
Now those three other teenage boys face murder charges.
“If they would have got him help, we wouldn’t be talking about murder charges,” Franklin County Sheriff Zach Scott told The Columbus Dispatch newspaper. “It was a bad decision on top of a bad decision.”
Tackett, who fired one shot at Barbee, also failed to call 911, saying that she did not know that her shot had struck the intruder, because he ran away, seemingly in good shape.
But the bullet hit him in the upper back. The shooting happened at about 4 a.m. It wasn’t until 5:14 a.m. that Barbee’s friend Adam Pickens, 18, placed a 911 call. Even then, Pickens apparently lied to the dispatcher.
“I don’t know how to tell you what happened,” Pickens, who now faces an adult murder count, told the 911 operator. “I think he’s dying. I don’t want to get him in trouble. I don’t know how it happened. He came in the front door with a gun wound.”
Barbee’s two other friends, Brandon J. Hamilton and Tyler R. Blazer, are both 17 and now face juvenile murder charges, under a statute that allows co-conspirators in a felony to be charged with murder when that crime results in a death, even an unintentional death.
Tackett said she did not realize until later on Sunday that the intruder in the Insane Clown Posse mask was her son’s former friend.
“I am devastated,” Tackett told the Dispatch. “I really liked that kid and I was really good to him, and it breaks my heart he’d enter my home like that.”
She said that her son cut off his friendship with Barbee about a year earlier, due to certain activities engaged in by Barbee which Tackett did not specify, but which her son did not like. The mom, who said that she woke up when Barbee broke in, believes that Barbee may have intended to harm her son.
She told police she found Barbee wearing gloves and an Insane Clown Posse mask standing over her sleeping son’s bed holding a knife. That’s when she fired at him with a gun owned by her boyfriend.
Prosecutors are still in the process of deciding whether Tackett will face charges for killing the Insane Clown Posse mask-clad teenager. Whether the boy was actually a fan of the hip-hop duo Insane Clown Posse, or just wore the mask for its frightening appearance, is not yet known. The FBI has classified Insane Clown Posse fans, who call themselves “Juggalos,” as gang members.