You can be forgiven for associating Jason Barnum with the circus. In addition to his name, the man’s body is a veritable firestorm of tattoed mayhem reminiscent of the sideshow acts of yore. But Barnum is in the news for perhaps the very wrongest of all wrong reasons: An Alaska court has convicted him to 22 years in jail for the attempted murder of Anchorage police officers.
Barnum, whose Facebook profile lists his school as “Go F*ck Your Self,” was involved in a 2012 shootout with Alaskan state troopers. The officers had tracked Barnum to a hotel room following a string of home burglaries and car thefts. When Barnum, who had locked himself in a bathroom, heard the officers call for him, he opened fire, injuring one policeman. The officers fired back, ultimately detaining the Eyeball. Barnum confessed to committing the crimes for which he’d been sought, and admitted he had done the deeds to feed a worsening heroin addiction.
Mark Mew, Chief of the Anchorage Police Department, was not feeling benevolent in court this week. “I’d like you to take a look at Mr. Barnum,” said Mew, who continued thusly:
He has the right to do this to himself and to express himself. We can’t sentence him for that, but I think we can consider a guy’s attitude and his behavior….I think Jason Barnum decided a long time ago that his life was about being hostile to people.
Barnum, for his part, was contrite. “I’m humbled by what the chief said,” he told the court. “I was out there pretty much running crazy. Everybody knows that I’m not the nicest guy. I understand that what I did was wrong. I can’t take none of it back.”
Barnum blamed part of his behavior on the penal system. He had been imprisoned for a prior offense, and, when released in 2010, found himself with nowhere to go, and no marketable skills. “I was living on the streets,” he said, “and I tried to get a job, but of course my beautiful face didn’t allow me to do that.”
When sentencing Barnum to 22 years, the judge noted that Eyeball was still responsible for his actions, but that the chances for parole built into his sentence would give him a chance to demonstrate remorse.
(Photo credit: Facebook)