2013-01-16 / Front Page

MTA Cop Gets Gold Shield For Valor

By Liz Goff

The hero Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) police officer who was stabbed in the eye by an unstable man on July 4 has been promoted to detective.

MTA Officer John Barnett was on routine patrol at a cab stand outside the LIRR Jamaica Avenue station at about 9:30 a.m. on July 4, when a man with a history of unprovoked attacks against police officers walked up to Barnett and stabbed him with a gravity knife, authorities said.

Edgar Owens, 46, plunged the knife into Barnett’s left temple, nearly slicing his left eye in half, an MTA spokesperson said.

Barnett, a 16-year-veteran MTA cop, underwent more than four hours of surgery to try and save the eye, but doctors are still unsure if Barnett will ever regain his eyesight or return to work.

MTA officials said Barnett, with no regard for his injury, pulled his service weapon and ordered Owens multiple times to drop the knife. When Owens refused to comply, Barnett fired four rounds from his weapon, striking Owens three times in the jaw, hip and chest.

Owens was taken to Jamaica Hospital Center where he was declared dead on arrival, police said.

 “Officer Barnett reacted to the danger to himself and everyone else around him,” officials said. “We am absolutely in awe of his bravery.”

Barnett was rushed to Jamaica Hospital Center where a team of doctors performed 4½ hours of painstaking surgery in an attempt to save his eye.

“Officer Barnett suffered a devastating injury,” the doctors said. “Only time will tell.”

Family members said Barnett, a member of the Navy Reserve, served several tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. “We are proud of him for protecting the streets every day, for fighting for his country and for the person he is,” she said. “When something like this happens, it gives you a new perspective on everything.”

Barnett was presented with the gold shield at a ceremony on December 12, five months after the unprovoked attack.

“I’m just hoping the next surgery goes good,” Barnett told reporters. He has already undergone five operations since the attack.

Doctors said the retina must heal before they can decide whether to fit Barnett with an artificial lens that could restore his vision. At the present time, the eye can only define light from dark, doctors said.

MTA Police Benevolent Association president Michael O;Meara said Barnett “behaved with extreme valor under conditions that were horrible.”

Cops said Owens was no stranger to law enforcement and was known for his unprovoked attacks on police officers.

“In 2006, Mr. Owens walked into the 26th Precinct stationhouse and punched an officer in the face,” police sources said. “And in 2007 he walked into the 103rd Precinct here in Queens, saying he wanted to get arrested – and if he didn’t he would punch someone in the face,” the sources said. “This guy is extremely dangerous.”

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