Detective John Barnes

Detective John Barnes

Portsmouth Police Department, Ohio

End of Watch Friday, February 26, 1932

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John Barnes

Detective John Barnes was shot and killed while attempting to arrest a robbery suspect on Seventh and Chillicothe Streets in Portsmouth.

Detective Barnes had observed the man attempt to hold up a woman who was en route to the bank to deposit checks and cash. When the woman started screaming and ran, the suspect ran the other way towards Detective Barnes.

Detective Barnes stepped out of his vehicle and grabbed the suspect, who immediately turned and fired. Although mortally wounded, Detective Barnes was able to return fire and hit the suspect once in the hand. A man who was standing nearby grabbed Detective Barnes' service revolver, chased down the suspect, and subdued him until police arrived. The suspect's accomplice was arrested a short time later.

Both suspects were convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in April of 1932. The shooter died in prison. His accomplice was paroled in April of 1957.

Detective Barnes had served with the Portsmouth Police Department for five years. He was survived by his wife and four children.


  • Age 40
  • Tour 5 years
  • Badge Not available

Incident Details

  • Cause Gunfire
  • Weapon Handgun; Revolver
  • Offender Sentenced to life

arrest attempt, off duty, robbery in progress

Most Recent Reflection

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NEVER FORGET! Please join me and honor the dedicated service and ultimate sacrifice of Detective John Barnes of the Portsmouth Police Department, Ohio and the additional 77 American Peace Officers who have paid the ultimate sacrifice on this date in history.

Superintendent Joe Morbitzer (Retired)
Ohio Attorney General, Bureau of Criminal Investigation

February 26, 2024

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