Prince George’s County, Md., police are seeking help from the public in their investigation into the death of 27-year-old Antonio Barnes, who was found lying on a sidewalk unconscious near his residence in Beltsville.
In 2014, Barnes, who was gay, won election to a seat on D.C.’s Advisory Neighborhood Commission 6E, which represents the city’s Shaw neighborhood. He gave up the seat before running for re-election in 2016 when he moved to P.G. County.
“On March 14, 2018 at about 10:30 p.m., patrol officers responded to the 11200 block of Evans Trail for the report of a check on the welfare,” a police statement released on March 15 says. “When they arrived, the officers discovered the victim outside lying on a sidewalk suffering from trauma to the lower body,” the statement says.
“He was transported to the hospital where he died a short time later. Detectives are working to identify a suspect(s) and motive in this case,” the statement concludes.
P.G. County police spokesperson Lt. Manuel Rivera told the Washington Blade on Monday, March 19, that police had no further information to release on the case, including information on whether they have a suspect or a known motive for the murder.
Rivera said P.G. police have a longstanding policy, similar to a D.C. police policy, of not disclosing the sexual orientation of a crime victim unless they have evidence indicating the victim was targeted because of his or her sexual orientation.
Alexander Padro, an ANC 6E commissioner who knew Barnes, said Barnes was “gay and out” to his fellow commissioners and to people who knew him in the neighborhood.
In a statement released during his election campaign for the ANC 6E06 seat, Barnes said he was committed to helping increase community engagement and restore faith in the political process.
“As an ANC member, I will help residents understand how city programs work, try to find ways to help address unemployment, help keep our streets safer and cleaner, make ANC meetings more accessible to all residents, work with commissioners to make better use of resources, and be fully accessible to all residents,” he said in his statement.
Fox 5 News reported on March 17 that Barnes’ grieving family members said that in addition to his role as an ANC member Barnes worked with the D.C. Board of Elections and was part of the Service Employees International Union.
His sister, Destiny Barnes, told the TV news station that her brother accomplished what most people do in a lifetime after a tough childhood.
“He dealt with fighting and going through gangs and all of that,” she told Fox 5 News. “He learned from that. He fought so hard to change his life and to show everybody that it’s not about your background. You can change yourself,” Fox 5 quoted her as saying.
The family has joined P.G. County police in asking anyone who might have information to help police identify a suspect to call the department’s Homicide Unit at 301-772-4925. The police statement says people who want to remain anonymous can called the police Crime Solvers line at 1-866-411-TIPS (8477).