Family identifies young father as man killed in Manatee Co. road rage shooting

Manatee County

Family members have identified 32-year-old Zachary Barnett as the man who was killed over the weekend in a Manatee County road rage incident.

The Manatee County Sheriff’s Office says he was killed in a shooting on Buckeye Road near U.S. 301 around 5:15 p.m. Saturday. Detectives are investigating it as an act of self-defense.

According to Sheriff Rick Wells, the shooter told deputies he was heading west on the roadway when a truck driving in the opposite direction swerved into his lane and almost ran into him. Investigators say when the shooter got off the road and turned around to get the other driver’s tag number, the other driver circled back around and pulled up beside the shooter.

After both drivers exchanged words, detectives say the shooting victim got out of his truck and leaned into the other driver’s open window.

The shooter says he asked the other driver to back away and brandished a gun. According to detectives, the other driver then pulled out a gun and leveled it at the shooter. That’s when the shooter says he fired his gun and killed the other driver.

Coty Barnett tells News Channel 8 her husband Zachary was the one who was killed. She says he was not a violent man.

“It doesn’t make sense, he had something to live for. He had us. He wouldn’t have did…it makes no sense to me. It doesn’t make sense,” she said.

“Everybody is screaming out that this is ridiculous, that’s not how it would’ve happened.”

She is now asking the public for help piece together exactly what happened.

“If you drove by and saw something that didn’t look right, if you have any information on what really happened, just reach out. Speak out. I can’t just let it go,” she said.

She also has a message for the other driver.

“I want that person to tell me, look at me and my children, and tell me why he thought that he had to kill my husband, why he had to take away such a good father,” said Barnett. 

“It’s a tragedy. He was a great guy. He had the rest of his life ahead of him. We were doing so good out here and now he’s gone. Stuff like this should not happen.” 

Detectives are still investigating the incident. As of Monday afternoon, no charges have been filed. The case has yet to be reviewed by the State Attorney’s office.

“It is not done by any means, these things can take days, weeks, before we actually send it over to the state attorneys office and then the state attorney’s office is going to review it and we’ll see where this ends up,” said MCSO spokesman Randy Warren.

If you have any information on this case, contact the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

The family has set up a GoFundMe account.

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