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OKC gunman had been in and out of prison

Barber
Barber

In 2006, longtime felon Elray Barber was sentenced to prison for 20 years for robbing a woman of her car in Oklahoma City.

He was out in less than half that.

In 2016, he was sentenced to prison again, this time for 10 years for holding a knife on a woman and threatening to slit her throat.

He was out again in less than half that.

Those releases from prison touched off debates on social media after he was shot and killed by police Christmas Eve at a Sonic drive-in restaurant in Oklahoma City.

"Looks like if he had been serving his time he wouldn't have been out to take a woman hostage," a retired police detective commented on Facebook. "Incarceration saves lives."

Oklahoma City police got involved Tuesday after getting a report Barber was intoxicated and carrying a gun. Officers found him at the Sonic in the passenger seat of a car, holding the driver at gunpoint, police said in a news release.

"He would not let the victim exit the vehicle and was threatening to shoot her. During the incident the suspect pointed his gun at officers," police said.

"Citizens were evacuated ... and the Tactical Team was deployed. ... Officers negotiated with the suspect for approximately two hours without success. The suspect would not comply with instructions or release the victim. The suspect continued to threaten the victim and two officers discharged their firearms striking the suspect."

Police said the suspect shot the 55-year-old kidnapping victim in the side during the incident. She is recovering. Police did not identify her.

Placed on administrative leave were Sgt. Clint Music and officer Kevin Kuhlman. Oklahoma County District Attorney David Prater will review their actions and decide if they were justified in using deadly force. It was the 14th officer-involved shooting in Oklahoma City this year.

Barber also has gone by Elroy and L Ray and the alias James Brown, according to court records. He was 60.

He also has prior convictions in Oklahoma for drug possession in 1998, for having a sawed-off shotgun in 2000 and for an assault in 2002. He spent time in a state mental facility in 2001 because of questions about his mental competency to be prosecuted, records show.

In the 2005 robbery case, he came into the custody of the Corrections Department on Dec. 13, 2006, and completed his sentence in 2014, a spokesman said.

He received 446 days credit for his time in the county jail before going to prison. "He was also able to earn credits as provided in state statute and agency policy that inmates can receive when they follow the rules in prison," the spokesman said.

In the 2015 assault and battery case, he came into DOC custody on March 4, 2016, and discharged on July 30, 2019. He received 305 days credit for his time in the county jail and also again was able to earn credits while in prison. He began serving the rest of his sentence, 15 years of probation, after his discharge.

Nolan Clay

Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials,... Read more ›

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