Benjamin C. Barnes regularly pedaled into the Boise Bicycle Project shop to repair and maintain his mountain bike.
The staff at the nonprofit cooperative was saddened to learn Monday that Barnes, 42, was the man shot and killed Saturday morning by Boise police in the Hulls Gulch area. He was shot after police say Barnes threatened several people and their dogs and shot and killed one family’s dog.
“He’d been coming in here for years. He was always someone we’ve been happy to help with,” executive director Jimmy Hallyburton said. “He definitely had some issues he was dealing with that some of our other clients weren’t, but he was always really nice and really well-behaved when he was in the shop.”
Barnes had a short criminal record. He was convicted in 2015 for damaging a riparian zone after camping along the Boise River in Garden City. He spent a day in jail and was banned from sleeping or camping along the river.
In October 2009, he was cited for hunting, fishing or trapping without a license in Ada County. He pleaded guilty and was fined $156.
Barnes lived on the streets and he relied on his bicycle to get around, Hallyburton said. He always carried a backpack with his belongings.
“It took a little bit of extra effort sometimes, but he was somebody who could really benefit from bicycle transportation, so we tried to make sure we could do whatever we could to make sure BBP continued to be a place where he could work on his bike,” Hallyburton said.
Barnes, who “rode his bike everywhere,” spent a lot of time at the library learning everything he could about his bicycle, Hallyburton said. A social service agency gave Barnes vouchers that provided him with a Boise Bicycle Project membership that allowed him to use the shop and its tools.
“He was a great bike mechanic. He was really good at fixing his bike and he knew every single piece on there. ... He was in here on a regular basis to make sure that his bicycle was always running smooth,” Hallyburton said.
Barnes typically came to the BBP, at 1027 S. Lusk St. near the east entrance to Ann Morrison Park, every week or every other week.
“There were a few places where guys like him could come in and feel welcomed. I know he spent a lot of time here. I know he spent a lot of time at the library and that he really used those resources to get through the daily grind,” Hallyburton said.
“We’ve always wanted to make sure we were a place where anybody, regardless of their income or background, could work in a safe space and use our stands and use our tools. That seemed like something that he always felt comfortable to do,” Hallyburton said.
Hallyburton said he doesn’t know what kind of personal issues Barnes was dealing with, but said he was sad to hear about his death.
“It’s really hard when you hear about somebody slipping through the cracks like that, because you wonder what kind of resources, had they been available, could have helped somebody like that,” Hallyburton said. “We wondered whether we could have done more to keep something like this from happening to a guy that was always really nice whenever we interacted with him.”