‘In fear for our lives': Dueling 911 calls led up to NJ horse farm shooting
WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP (Morris) — "This situation is getting worse and worse and worse."
That's what ex-Olympian equestrian Michael Barisone told a 911 dispatcher days before he was accused of shooting a tenant twice in the chest and trying to shoot her fiance on Aug. 7.
Six emergency calls were placed between July 31 and Aug. 8, by Barisone, his tenant Lauren Kanarek, her father, and Barisone's partner.
Barisone has been charged with two counts of attempted murder.
In the first call, on July 31, Barisone said of Karanek and her fiancé, Rob Goodwin, who were living in one of the property's apartment units: "They're scumbags and I want them warned."
Barisone then placed a separate call the next day, Aug. 1, and said "there is a client, we have a horse stable, and I asked her to go home for the evening and she won't leave the barn and she's screaming at me — disturbing the peace for the second time in three days."
Kanarek made her own 911 call, Aug. 3, and told a dispatcher that "there was a very, very suspicious looking vehicle" outside her apartment, after 3 a.m. She described a large SUV going very slowly, with a guy smoking a cigarette inside, "and we overheard them talking about, like, getting guys — to, like, hurt us and kill us, whatever."
When asked if she or anyone else was in danger, she said, "We feel very much that we could be."
The same day, Aug. 3, a call from Barisone said of the ongoing dispute: "This situation is getting worse and worse and worse." He said police had responded twice in the last three days and he referenced a Facebook post by Kanarek about split personalities.
"We're under siege here. If they come up the driveway I don't know what to do. This is not looking good. This is the third time and I'm getting no relief," Barisone said on the call.
Barisone quoted a Facebook post he attributed to Kanarek that said that "everyone should be worried, I'm not responsible for anything my other personalities do when they're threatened."
Barisone said to the dispatcher: "That's insane and we are in fear for our lives from these people."
A different post by Kanarek was widely used in reports after the shooting, in which she wrote on Aug. 2 “I’m being bullied by a 6’3 man. Bullied to the point I’m afraid.”
A 911 call from Kanarek's father on the day of the shooting said: "My daughter's in a landlord-tenant dispute and her lawyer got a call that she'd been shot."
On Aug. 8, Mary Haskins Gray, Barisone's partner, called 911 to say that she had been verbally threatened by Goodwin and Jonathan Kanarek, Lauren's father.
Barisone appeared in court on Aug. 14.
Defense attorney Jeffrey Simms said Kanarek and Goodwin had violated a verbal agreement with Barisone and the dispute "turned ugly." He said the couple made a false claim of child abuse, pertaining to the two young children of Barisone's partner who lived with him.
"They said, 'We're going to destroy you,'" Simms said, adding that the shooting occurred soon after a child services investigator arrived at the property.
Investigators say Barisone shot Kanarek twice in the chest at close range, before aiming his handgun at Goodwin and firing a shot that missed. Goodwin then wrestled Barisone to the ground and held him there until officers arrived, according to the police report.
Kanarek suffered damage to her chest and lungs and her condition remains serious, according to a statement from her family, shared through equestrian website, The Chronicle of the Horse.
The family also said Goodwin had surgery Aug. 13, to repair a broken hand.
Barisone remains in jail, pending trial.
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