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SHARELL BLAKENBAKER DIES DEFENDING GRANDDAUGHTER FROM KIDNAPPER GARY CARNER

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Aug 20 10 1:54 PM

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                                     OF HEROS & HEROINES
 
Within a range of 30 minutes lives changed.

Tragedy strikes for one family, when a grandmother saves her granddaughter
from a kidnapper and is shot in front of her grandchildren. Her grandson then
saves his sister and cousin from the homicidal kidnapper.

Another girl saves herself after being kidnapped by the same man, freeing
herself by jumping from his moving vehicle.

2010 - August 3 - 8:55 P.M. - Gary Don Carner (58) approaches a woman (31) who's
                                           putting air in her tire at a convenience store. Carner
                                           asks the woman "Do you need a tire guage?" She
                                           replies "No." Carner places a small silver handgun to
                                           her neck and tells her "Get into the white pickup or
                                           I'll kill you."

Brian Thomas (Potter County Sheriff)  "Somehow she got away from him. 
                        The woman fled inside the store, where the clerk locked the
                         doors. Carner then fled."  

                         9:00 P.M. -
                          Sharell Blakenbaker (68) and 3 grandchildren, age 5, 16 and 12, 
                          are at Love's Travel Stop in Amarillo, Texas. Two of the children
                          are Cassidy (12) and her brother Dylan (16).They are driving back
                          to Oklahoma from the Amarillo airport.

                                    ATTEMPTED KIDNAPPING

                           Gary Don Carner (58), overweight, cowboy boots and hat,
                           is armed with a gun. Jumps from his pickup truck and
                           grabs hold of Cassidy's arm and tries to pull her into his truck. 

Cassidy "He pointed a gun at me and told me, ‘Get in my truck.’

                                     RESISTANCE

Cassidy "My grandma wouldn’t let him. She got in between us, yelling at the man
               to stay away."
 

                           Sharell confronts Carner and tells him "Leave my granddaughter alone!"
                           She steps between Cassidy and Carner and they struggle.

                                   TAKING HER CHANCE 

Cassidy "I remember him saying to my grandmother, do you want to die. And I think she
             said "No" because I can't remember what he was saying, but then he just turned
             to her and shot her and that moment it gave a chance to get my arm loose and
             start running."
 
             It gave me time to break free of him and start running. I felt helpless  and was
             torn between helping my grandmother and running to safety. I knew if I stopped
             to help her, he might have taken me. I couldn't go  over to her and make it all
             better."
                   
             “I think she’d have done that for anyone. She was just that kind of person.”
 

                           Gary Carner shoots Sharell Blankebaker with a small handgun
                           at point blank range in her back, severely wounding her lung.

                                   A BIG BROTHER HERO
 
             Gary Carner begins following after Cassidy. Her brother Dylan has
             already carried their young cousin to safety. He comes back for
             his sister Cassidy. He hides the younger two behind the counter
             of the gas station, thwaring Carner's plans.

             Cassidy phones 911 and reports "A man tried to grab me and he
             had a gun. I pushed him away and my  grandmother told him to get
             away from me and let her go. The man shot my grandmother and left."

                       
                                   COWARD FLEES POLICE
                                   Gary Carner flees the scene.

                                    WITNESSES
 
Several witnesses see the struggle and alert police as to the make and model of
Carner's truck.
                                
Angel Quezada "We saw an older woman leave with her grandchildren, and
                          when she did a man approached them and tried to take one
                          of the kids and he reached around a shot her in the back.
                          She was screaming, she was screaming for something we
                           just couldn't tell what she was saying."

Angel Quezada holds Sharrel's hand and prays for her as she loses consciousness.

Angel Quezada "Her last words were about her grandchildren and protecting them
                           from harm."

                                   MURDERED

              Sharrell  Blankenbaker died of her wounds. 


Brian Thomas (Potter County Sheriff) "It was a tragic event.The grandmother at
                                                            the Love's can be called nothing but a hero.”

                                     KIDNAPPING - SHOOTOUT

 9:11 P.M. -  Carner sees two girls (both age 11) walking along a road and asks
                  "Are you okay?" He stops his white pickup and forces one of girls
                   into his truck at gunpoint. The other girl runs away and summons
                   help.

                                      A FRANTIC FATHER
 
A man comes into the store, frantically looking for his daughter.She'd been
forced into a pickup truck as she was walking along the road. The pickup matches
the description of the one involved in Cassidy's attempted kidnapping and the shooting
of her grandmother. 911 has been notified of the man, and the pickup's description.


 9:26 P.M. -  A Potter County deputy spots the pickup. The kidnapped girl spots
                   the deputy, opens the truck's passenger door and dives out of the
                   moving vehicle into a ditch.


 9:30 P.M. -   Police shoot and kill Gary Carner.


Brian Thomas (Potter County Sheriff) "Deputies then closed in. Carner attempted
                        to flee and started shooting at deputies. White returned fire and killed
                       Carner.

Chief Deputy Roger Short "It was fortunate the deputy quickly discovered the pickup                                           driving slowly along county roads. We think that's a stroke                                           of luck for the little girl.   Brian Thomas (Potter County Sheriff) "She suffered scrapes and bruises from her fall                          and was taken to a hospital. She was later released. She was in good                          spirits last night. She's a brave little girl.”           
FAMILY "She is recovering and we are working to put this behind us. We are working
               with counselors before school starts.
   
              "We want to thank everyone for the prayers and support. She is a very brave
               little girl. We are working to get her better emotionally and physically."
 
                                   MOTIVE FOR CRIME SPREE

Brian Thomas (Potter County Sheriff) "I don't know that we'll ever have the answers
                       to that. We're as baffled as everybody else. There's no indication Carner
                       had a history of committing such crimes, and there was no indication
                       Carner knew any of his victims."

                                      EULOGY

            Cassidy spoke at her grandmother’s funeral in Oklahoma.
            She ended the eulogy with a memory of a storm that hit
            right after the shooting, and a brilliant double rainbow that
            appeared in the sky.

Cassidy “I said, ‘Whenever you see a rainbow, think of my grandma."
 
            “I think my grandma is the greatest person in the world.
            didn’t surprise me that she did that, but I’m really grateful she did.”

        Blankenbaker leaves behind her husband, four brothers, three sons and
        eight grandchildren.
 
 
                                 LOVED ONE'S FITTING TRIBUTE

Dale Blankenbaker (66) (husband of Sharell) "I wasn't surprised about how Sharell
                                      died. She would have done anything to protect those kids,"

                                      I want people to remember Sharell for her kindness.
                                      
                                      Five years ago, when a couple of cyclists were stranded in
                                      Felt during a fierce storm. Sharrel them into our home for
                                      shelter, food and an evening of games with her and the
                                      grandchildren. That's who she was. She was very much
                                      about helping people."

Cassidy  "My grandmother is my role model. I hope that when I'm older, that I can
               be exactly like her. I want to be the best mother-in-law, mother, grandmother,
               just be her. She was my role model. She was, I think, the woman everyone
               should be."

              " I have two my grandmother’s rings on one necklace and my grandmother’s
               cross on another, “because it makes me feel I have part of her with me.”

              “She was the first one to always want to have a party, she always wanted to
               have fun and make things positive. She would do anything for you, no matter
               what it was.”

              “It kind of gets hard after awhile, (Speaking to media) but it’s good talking about
              my grandma—but not about what happened. She was the best grandma ever.
              She would do everything for you. She taught me how to cook, she read me the
              Bible all the time. She was a loving grandma, mother-in-law, sister, everything ...
              She was the mother of our family, she really was. She was always there for
              everyone.”

Pat Meyers (Friend and neighbor) "She had a strong belief in God and believed in

                  justice. She believed in doing the right thing no matter what it cost, and
                  it cost her life. She doted on those grandchildren."
 
                                    GOOD FROM ILL
 
Cassidy "I want to be a motivational speaker. I want to talk to other young people,
              “tell them not to be a victim, never listen to what that bad person says.”
               I want to turn this negative into a positive, to help other kids. Kids would

              listen to a kid."

             "I know she's watching down on me. She will always love me."


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#1 [url]

Aug 20 10 2:10 PM

                                   AN APOLOGY FROM THE CARNER FAMILY            

Aaron Carner (Nephew) "I want to reach out to the family of Blankenbaker
                      and to the 11-year-old girl. To give a heartfelt, sincere apology
                      to them that this happened. That this was caused by one of our
                      family members. Our heart goes out to them.          
 
          There's nothing we can say that can ever take away their anguish and their hurt."

                                  WHO WAS GARY DON CARNER?


AMARILLO, TEXAS - Gary Carner lived in a well-kept house in a peaceful, newer
                                 residential where neighbors know each other. They knew Gary,
                                 or they thought they did.

                                         POLICE RECORDS 
                   Only one call to his residence:  a report of vandalism to a vehicle

Special Crimes "He had no criminal history to speak of, just a DUI arrest and a
                          warrant for a bad check."

Aaron Carner (Nephew of Gary Carner)
 "Gary Carner had been taking medications most of his life.
 In his late 20s or early 30s, he was working as a roughneck 
 when an oil rig pipe crushed his back and leg during an accident.

I have heard speculation that a change in prescription medication
just before the crime spree might have altered my uncle's personality,
but I don't know.
 
                                          TOXICOLOGY REPORTS 

                                            Due back next month.  

Special Crimes "He had begun taking pain medications recently after undergoing surgery.
                         We don't know if the medication had anything to do with this. It's among
                         the things we're going to look into."

Aaron Carner "We know him as a family man. We don't know who that was.
                         I don't know or understand the man my uncle Gary Don Carner
                         became during the last 30 minutes of his life.
 
The Carner family, is trying to come to grips with the last minutes of the life of a man
who, but for the last 30 minutes of his 58 years, lived a peaceful life outside the spotlight
and adored his family. It was 30 minutes of his life that we don't know that person.
 
Something like this, we don't understand it. The family never saw a hint of the man
Gary Carner would become when he embarked on a 30-minute crime spree.
 
His facebook account is filled with photos of his wife, granddaughter and son.
And his family loved him just as much as he loved them.
 
He was the man who stressed how important it was to treat others as they wanted
to be treated. Never a hint of violence. He's always been a good-natured man.
He loved spending time with his son and his nephew, hunting and fishing."
   "My family is trying to remember Gary Carner by how he lived, not how he died.   I hope people will respect my family's privacy as members grieve."


Sgt. Kevin Dockery (Potter-Randall Special Crimes) "The Carner family has                                 continued to cooperate with the investigation. The surviving                                 members of the Carner family also could be considered victims.                                 What somebody in your family does should not be reflected on
                                the whole family. What he did, they shouldn't be responsible for."


FAMILY (Of the 11 year old) 
"We appreciate all the prayers and thoughts but we ask that our privacy be respected
as members continue to heal."

"Our heartfelt prayers are with the family of Sharrel Blankenbaker as they grieve the
loss of this loving, heroic grandmother.  We extend our condolences to the Carner
family. This was ultimately a tragedy for all."  

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#2 [url]

Aug 20 10 2:22 PM

                                    INVESTIGATION


Potter-Randall Special Crimes Sgt. Kevin Dockery
"Investigators are in the early stages of their inquiry, but there’s no
indication Carner had a history of committing such crimes."

“I’m not sure what he was thinking and what was going on.
We don’t know. The family I don’t think has a clue either.
I don’t know if we’re ever going to really know.”

"Gary Don Carner, 58, was on pain medication following surgery,
and he had changed prescriptions days before this tragic incident.
 
Investigators are working on getting an entire list of medications Carner
was taking."


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#3 [url]

Aug 20 10 2:44 PM

                                  IN THE WORDS OF A 5 YEAR OLD
 
Justin Blankenbaker (son of Sharrel Blankenbaker) his 5 year old son
witnessed his grandmother's shooting.

Justin Blankebaker  "My son waffled inside the store. He couldn't decide if he
                                wanted white, chocolate or strawberry milk. As he tried
                                to make up his mind, a stranger in a cowboy hat started
                                teasing him.
 
                                They didn't think nothing about it. They just thought he
                                was a goofy old guy.

                                When they emerged from the store they found the stranger
                                blocking their path. Knowing my son, he was probably the
                                first one out the door. He was probably out in front of everyone.
                                I assume Grandma was behind the kids."
 
                                He said this bad robber that parked in the handicapped
                                zone put a silver BB gun in Grandma's face. And Grandma
                                pulled (his cousin) away.
 
                                He stepped out and put his gun in (the 12-year-old's) face and
                                grabbed her. And Grandma took (her) back."

(in tears) "I'm never going to talk to her again, "I'm an almost 40-year-old man who talks
               to his mom every day. It devastates me. I'm the youngest. That makes it harder."
 
               My father Dale Blankenbaker  is "taking it pretty rough. Not only did she take
               care of her children and grandkids, she took care of him. That man probably
               hasn't written a check or paid a bill in 20 years. It's a different world for him.
               I'm sure he's not only sorrowful; he's scared."
 
              "She loved her garden.That's the same thing that everybody has said: 'You'd
               better get out there and water that garden. They produced all their own fruits
               and vegetables. They canned. They survive off that. They put it all up and eat
               off that all winter."
 
              "My mom has been a painter her whole life. Not picture painting — she painted
               multiple factories. When we were kids, she got into spray painting. She moved
               on and started painting gas factories and things like that for big corporations.

               Painting was her passion. ... She went all over the county painting houses.
               here are people out here who probably paint their houses maybe once
               every 20 years, and they've all heard of Blankenbaker Painting."
 
 
                                    MEMORIAL SERVICE
 
Justin Blankenbaker  "The community can gather and celebrate her. 
                                   There are people coming here from both ends
                                   of the country. We don't want them to feel like
                                   they just have to come and go. We want this
                                   to be a big get-together, just like she'd want it."
 
 
 

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#4 [url]

Sep 20 10 5:43 PM

2010 - September 12 -  Grand Jury decides Deputy acted properly


Randall Sims (47th District Attorney)
"Law enforcement officers acted appropriately during the incident. The jury found no

wrongdoing on the part of the deputy. This is one of the worst crime sprees I've been

around."

Sheriff Brian Thomas
"White has been on leave since the shooting and is expected to return to active duty
immediately.

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#5 [url]

Oct 2 10 5:43 PM

                                    TOXICOLOGY REPORTS IN

Lt. Gary Trupe (Potter Randall Special Crimes)

"Toxicology results from 58-year-old Gary Don Carner's autopsy indicate
his blood-alcohol level was 0.17 and 0.24 at the time. Two different tests
were conducted on Carner's remains, which is why there were two different
totals, he said. Tests also indicated he had a prescription painkiller and an
antidepressant in his blood at the time."
 
"We still never determined anything that he had in his past that could have
 triggered this. Why all of a sudden this man, who had no criminal history,
no history of sexual offenses would do this. The only person who could tell
us this is deceased."
 

"I can't speculate whether the combination of drugs and alcohol would have
 sparked the incident."

"Carner spent the last hours of his life at Duke Tracy's bar, 3101 S.W. 26th Ave.
"He wasn't a regular there. He was in there drinking several hours prior to this."
Bar patrons told investigators that Carner was a stranger and came alone.
Carner bought several rounds for patrons while he was there, but they didn't
know him."
 
Carner's family continues to cooperate in the investigation, but the motives
behind that night will remain a mystery. It's a tragic deal. His family would like
to know completely what is going on also. (But) I'm not sure there's a whole lot
more of an investigation we can do."
.

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