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article imageMountie who witnessed Greyhound bus beheading commits suicide

By Arthur Weinreb     Jul 18, 2014 in Health
Winnipeg - A retired Mountie who witnessed Vincent Li stab and behead a fellow passenger on a Greyhound bus in 2008 has taken his own life. The former dog handler had been suffering from PTSD.
The former RCMP corporal committed suicide after a lengthy battle with post-traumatic stress disorder. He had made a previous suicide attempt in May but was saved.
Prior to 2008, Ken Barker, 51, had witnessed horrific crimes for 20 years. On July 30, 2008, Barker was one of the first officers to arrive at the scene of the beheading on a Greyhound bus travelling outside Portage La Prairie, Manitoba. Vincent Li had stabbed and beheaded a fellow passenger on the bus. Li and Tim McLean, a carnival worker, did not know each other and there was no interaction between the two prior to the killing.
At a March 2009 trial, court heard Li was an undiagnosed schizophrenic who heard God telling him to kill the 22-year-old McLean. Li was found not criminally responsible (NCR) in McLean's death and confined to a psychiatric hospital.
Barker retired from the RCMP recently but was on medical leave since October. Until he went on medical leave he remained working as a dog handler but was assigned to locations such as airports and bus depots where he would likely not face situations involving violence.
Barker's sister, Wendy Walder, said her brother was receiving psychiatric help both before and after his retirement. She said things began to get worse when Li received a lot of media attention last year after the Manitoba Review Board heard arguments and reduced the restrictions placed on Li in the hospital. Li was ultimately granted unescorted passes to walk around the hospital grounds and escorted passes to go to nearby beaches.
Barker leaves two adult children and an estranged wife, Shari Barker. Shari Barker said her husband was sensitive and did not want to be known as the "Greyhound guy." She also said the beheading did not only damage her husband's health but destroyed their marriage. The couple separated three years ago and Wednesday would have been their 26th wedding anniversary.
A Facebook page had been set up urging RCMP officers and other first responders who suffer from PTSD to seek help. Lori Wilson, the wife of an RCMP officer who suffers from PTSD, and who created the page, posted Barker's story on Facebook on Monday and more than a quarter of a million people have seen it.
About PTDS and her husband, Wilson said she when he first began suffering from it she didn't know where to turn and could not understand why he didn't love them any more.
According to the Tema Conter Memorial Trust, 12 first responders in addition to Barker have taken their own lives in the past 10 weeks.
Barker's family is urging the RCMP to do more to help those suffering from PTSD and are asking officers who believe they are suffering to seek help.
More about ken barker, beheading on greyhound bus, Ptsd, Rcmp
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