An openly gay Republican who ran for governor of Oklahoma in 2018 has been arrested and held without bail for shooting a process server and then threatening a mass shooting.
Christopher Barnett, 36, faces a charge of assault and battery with a deadly weapon for shooting a process server who came to his door on the evening of July 24.
Audio recordings and multiple videos of the incident, which have since been released to the public and posted on The Tulsa World, show the process server holding up some papers and asking for “Christopher.”
A man behind the door — allegedly Barnett — responds, “I’m sorry, you have the wrong house. Get off my property, or you’re gonna be dead.” The man leans in and asks the person to repeat himself, to which the man responds, “Get off my property, or you’re gonna be dead.”
“OK, I’m just here trying to deliver documents to Christopher,” the process server says. One of the video clips shows him put his hand in his pocket, apparently prompting Barnett to demand he “show his hands,” before telling him again: “Get off the property.”
“OK, I’m leaving, but no necessary threats of acts of violence. It’s all being recorded, OK?” the process server says. Barnett then tells the man, “Get off the property, or you’ll be dead.”
Throughout the exchange, the process server repeatedly tells Barnett he can’t hear what he’s saying and that he should come to the door. The process server then backs away from the door, and stands on the lawn, telling Barnett, “I’ll wait for you out here. OK?” He is then shot in the left elbow, and runs off the property. Police say the injury was non-life threatening.
Barnett was arrested on the assault and battery charged and released. In a post on his Facebook page, which is no longer publicly visible, Barnett defended his actions, writing: “The person I shot last night pulled a gun on me, on my own property. They were told four times to leave the property, they were told they were trespassing. They then pulled a gun and I fired my gun and shot them.”
But Barnett was arrested again the following day on a separate charge of threatening an act of violence for a post on his blog, which he maintains as part of his organization “Transparency for Oklahomans.”
The post in question, titled “How would Chris Barnett take down TU?”, details a “hypothetical” plan for a mass shooting while people exit University of Tulsa football games at halftime.
His second booking photo, after being arrested on July 26, shows him broadly grinning from ear to ear — prompting local ABC affiliate KTUL to ask him why.
“Well I’m smiling because I’ve done nothing wrong,” Barnett said. “I’m smiling because I have a beautiful smile.”
He also defended shooting the process server, saying: “For crying out loud, what crime have we committed? We’re homeowners, we have a right to defend our property when someone’s trespassing and they’re posing a danger to our health an imminent danger, making me fear for my life. I don’t have to retreat, I don’t have to cower.”
After watching the videos and listening to an audio recording of the incident, Special Judge April Seibert ruled on July 29 that Barnett should remain jailed without bail.
On Aug. 1, Barnett pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. He and his defense attorney, Brendan McHugh, have argued that Barnett should be immune from prosecution because the shooting was within the rules of Oklahoma’s “Stand Your Ground” law.
Both men maintain that Barnett was justified in shooting because the process server had a weapon in his possession at the time.
As for the charge of threatening an act of violence, Barnett and his lawyer argue that the post on the mass shooting specifically states that it is a “hypothetical” situation, and is a form of legally protected speech under the First Amendment.
Barnett is next scheduled to appear in court on Aug. 26 for a preliminary hearing.
Prior to these incidents, Barnett was best known for seeking the Republican nomination for governor. He placed eighth out of 10 candidates in the primary, earning 5,223 votes, or 1.16% of all votes cast.
Barnett says he’s “not ashamed” of his actions and believes he will be vindicated of the charges against him.
“I have no regrets, and I’m happy to go all the way to court,” he told KTUL. “I’m happy to get a jury trial and I will exonerate myself. I will be found not guilty if it goes that far, but the district attorney would be a fool to let it go that far.”