Boeing Whistleblower John Barnett Found Dead in Apparent Suicide

( – The internet has been awash with tongue-in-cheek memes joking about Boeing killing whistleblowers. While internet users are just making light of a bad situation, as they often do, a shocking number of former employees have lost their lives. An investigation into one of those deaths proved the company had no hand in it.

On May 17, the Charleston County Coroner’s Office and Charleston Police Department released documents confirming John Barnett died from a “self-inflicted gunshot wound.” The 62-year-old was in South Carolina on March 9, 2024, providing a deposition in his whistleblower case against Boeing. When he didn’t show up for the last day of testimony, hotel staff searched for him and found him dead in his car in the parking lot.

The coroner initially listed his death as a suicide but the police department decided to continue to investigate after his family and lawyers reached out to them. Speculation ran rampant online over what might have happened to the former Boeing employee. Police put those rumors to bed with the release of the new documents. Authorities also revealed they’d found a suicide note beside him in the vehicle.

Attorneys Brian Knowles and Robert Turkewitz issued a statement on May 21 continuing to place the blame for Barnett’s death on Boeing. According to the lawyers, while the company might “not have pulled the trigger,” it is responsible. They explained that their client was suffering from anxiety, PTSD, and panic attacks before he died because of the “retaliation and hostile work environment” he dealt with at the aerospace company.

During his time at Boeing, Barnett worked in quality control and raised alarms about several safety issues, including the company allegedly allowing workers to install defective parts on planes. The FAA and Boeing corroborated his complaints but he claims he was retaliated against. He filed a whistleblower complaint with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), which didn’t go his way after a four-year investigation. He was appealing the decision when he died.

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