Page 10


about his absences, and when Anise Tolson asked Barlow why they hadn’t, Barlow told her, “I didn’t think she’d care.” Barlow de Barlow’s suspicion was roused when a parent reported to him that she’d heard Bledsoe tell another student, “I’ve got two” and, later in the conversation, utter the word “rocks.” Barlow summoned Alford and McKenzie, and the latter chased Bledsoe, handcuffed him, and took him to jail. He was later released, no charges were ever filed, and no drugs were ever discovered. Another Barlow-McKenzie drug sting occurred the following spring, when the two of them took to the roof of the high school building to watch for possible offenses, and ended up pursuing student Chase Davis around the campus. \(Barlow also declined to comment about this episode, while McKenzie did not return phone and McKenzie spotted Davis sneaking off for a cigarette, and went after him. Davis, who takes medication for both attention deficit disorder and depression, fled. The three of them ran about the school grounds until Davis rounded a corner and met McKenzie, who came charging out of a set of doors toward him and pulled his gun. Davis was charged with possession of marijuana, but the charges were eventually dropped for lack of evidence. \(Bordner says she later found the family guns underneath her grandson’s bed; when she asked him what he was doing with them he answered, “They’re FROM THE HALLWAY TO COUNTY JAIL For newcomer Sherry Riley and her foster son Henry, who goes by the name Junior, life under Barlow became a nightmare. Riley and her husband Wayne, a career Air Force officer, came to Joaquin eighteen months ago from Shreveport, looking to fulfill what Riley called her “rural dream.” On a heavily wooded lot bordered by the Sabine, they found a house big enough for their large family: the Rileys have four biological children, an adopted bi-racial son, and three foster children. Junior, who is black, arrived from Dallas just before Thanksgiving of 1997. At seventeen years of age, it was his eighth foster home assignment. A tall, attractive boy with a muscular build, Junior could pass for older than he is, but a brain injury sustained as a child greatly reduced his reasoning ability. His emotional maturity has suffered as well, according to Riley. “He does a lot of rapping and snapping his fingers. After a few days I learned that was one of the ways he expresses his feelings in his songs,” she says. “And he had the foulest mouth when he first got here.” Junior’s last stop before Joaquin High was Skyline, an inner-city high school in Dallas. Riley sensed there would be trouble with Barlow when she took Junior to be enrolled in school, but she had no idea how bad things would eventually get. “The very first thing he said to Junior was `Boy, what kind of trouble you been in?'” Riley says. \(Barlow told the Observer that he asks all incoming students about past disciAlthough Junior began to settle in and make friends, Riley received repeated calls about Junior’s behavior over the first few months. “It was ridiculous they were calling me every week for the stupidest little things,” Riley says. Barlow made it his habit to have Mark McKenzie, the city police officer, in the office when Ju A Nate Blakeslee nior was being disciplined, supposedly because of his size and formidable disposition. “Very few people in a sane mind would want to go up against Henry in a physical fight,” Barlow told the Observer. But Junior doesn’t appear much larger than his basketball teammates. \(Barlow, on the other hand, is easily two inches In March, following a lengthy “investigation” by Barlow, Junior was arrested at school for his role in a hallway fight between two female students. Barlow determined that Junior had kicked a girl in the head, although some witnesses said he was merely trying to break up the fight. Junior was removed from Joaquin High and assigned to the Shelby County Co-op, an alternative school for special ed students in Center. Six weeks later came the incident that pushed Riley over the edge. Although forbidden to set foot inside the school, Junior still caught his bus to Center from the Joaquin campus every morning. On the morning of April 27, Larry Beets, a computer science teacher at Joaquin, spotted Junior roughhousing with a friend and ordered him to let her go. Junior protested that the two were only playing, and that he was not hurting her. A confrontation ensued, in which Beets ordered Junior into the school to be disciplined, and Junior attempted to get past Beets and into his arriving bus. There are differing versions of what happened next. According to Beets, after he got Junior inside the school he became violent, and either poked or shoved the teacher. Junior maintains it was Beets who poked him over and over in the forehead, in an attempt to goad Junior into hitting him. He says he did nothing more than slap a computer disk out of the teacher’s hands. According to Riley, at least one teacher present during the confrontation has corroborated Ju FEBRUARY 19, 1999 THE TEXAS OBSERVER 13