In a week where President Trump was lambasted for a lackluster response to mass shootings, an incident on a New Jersey farm could see calls for the tightening of America’s gun laws increase.
The shooter in question isn’t a gamer or a violence-obsessed young loner, but a 54-year-old former Olympic dressage rider named Michael Barisone. The victim, believed to be stable but in a medically-induced coma, has been identified as Lauren Kanarek, a dressage rider who trained with Barisone, and lived on his farm.
A charge of attempted murder has been filed against Barisone, who is also believed to be in hospital, along with Kanarek’s fiancé. Reports online suggest that the incident stemmed from a long-running row. Kanarek had previously posted on social media about ‘being bullied by a 6’3 man. Bullied to the point I’m afraid’, adding ‘it seems as if Safe Sport was created for exactly this reason’. Safe Sport, the organization Kanarek mentions, is a policy created by the US Equestrian Federation with the aim of ‘maintaining an equestrian community free of all forms of emotional, physical and sexual misconduct’ – although it is unclear whether Kanarek had filed any reports with the agency. Although she doesn’t mention Barisone by name, writing on Facebook ‘I’m not sure what I can say here’, it has been reported that Barisone was attempting to evict the rider from her home. According to a neighbor of Kanarek: ‘Cops have been up there every day for the last two weeks or more.’ ‘Something should have been done sooner,’ he added.
Barisone was named the Sportsman International Horseman of the Year in 2009, and more recently has been involved with training other top dressage riders such as Allison Brock, who won a bronze medal at the 2016 Rio Olympics.
Of course, gun crime – any crime, for that matter – can occur at any location. But within the tight-knit equestrian world, the news comes as a huge shock. As one person commented: ‘A couple days ago, after El Paso and Dayton, I was thinking, “Well at least the barn is safe.” I guess this is a reminder that horrible things can happen anywhere.’