WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A Florida man died of a gunshot wound nearly 60 years after the bullet was fired, a medical examiner says.
The Palm Beach Post reported Monday that the county medical examiner determined that John Henry Barrett, 77, died in May of an infection and complications related to the gunshot wound and ruled his death a homicide.
The 1958 shooting damaged Barrett’s spinal cord and left him partially paralyzed, requiring him to walk with a cane.
At age 19, Barrett was shot by a friend during a fight. The friend, who was not identified in the medical examiner’s report, served time in prison.
Barrett worked for three decades as a pastor and was a former executive director of the Pahokee Housing Authority.
His family told the Post that Barrett didn’t speak often about the shooting but used it as a way to inspire others.
“He never wanted to be looked upon as (being disabled),” said Terrance Lee, his great-nephew. “He wanted to be looked up to as a normal person in society. That’s the way he lived his life.”
Barrett told The Miami Herald in 1974 that the injury kept him from working in the fields, like many of his friends did — and that might have been a blessing.
“If the accident hadn’t happened, I would have spent all of my life as a farm worker,” he told the newspaper.
Robert Lee, Terrance Lee’s brother, told the Post that the brothers have memories of their great uncle’s sermons.
“His voice was very commanding,” Robert Lee said. “He was handicapped, (but) if you close your eyes and you hear him speak, you wouldn’t know that.”