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Army sergeant accused of pointing a gun at his wife, kids

RIVERVIEW — Army Staff Sgt. Jeremy Andre Richie Barton lined five people against a wall and, according to authorities, pointed a loaded gun at them.

The people were not insurgents or war criminals. They were his wife and four children, deputies say.

Barton, according to an arrest report filed Sunday, fled before anyone was seriously hurt. He fired the gun once, at a doorknob.

Barton, 32, was arrested and charged with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, felony battery by strangulation, four counts of child abuse and tampering with a victim. It was his first arrest in Florida, according to state records.

Lt. Rebecca Heyse, a spokeswoman at MacDill Air Force Base where Barton has worked since July, said she had no information to explain his alleged behavior.

Barton's wife, 32, said Barton had served in Iraq. She would not speculate about what sparked the outburst and referred questions to his command staff.

According to the arrest report and sheriff's spokeswoman Debbie Carter, the couple were involved in a family dispute about 6:30 p.m. when he placed his wife in a headlock, knocked her to the ground, got on top of her and punched her in the ribs.

Barton then put his wife against the wall and choked her, the report says. Then he got a gun, and when he walked into the garage to load it, the report says, his wife locked him out.

Barton fired a shot at the doorknob, breaking the lock, and ordered his wife and children to line up against the wall, deputies say. Before leaving, Barton broke his wife's cell phone.

Barton was arrested at a hotel at 6227 S Dale Mabry Highway near midnight. He was held without bail at the Orient Road Jail.

Heyse said Barton worked in the joint communications support element at MacDill, a sort of military 911. No decision had been made Monday regarding his employment.

Times researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Rebecca Catalanello can be reached at (813) 226-3383 or rcatalanello@sptimes.com.

Army sergeant accused of pointing a gun at his wife, kids 09/29/08 [Last modified: Friday, October 3, 2008 6:34pm]
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