Death On Hicks Street

The Brooklyn Eagle is reporting that a 42 year old man was found dead in his apartment at 166 Hicks Street between Clark and Pierrepont.  Reportedly stabbed to death in his bathtub see update 2 below.  We’ve received reports that Hicks Street around Clark Street has been cordoned off by the police as they investigate the crime.

Update: NYPD is on the scene.  Current word is that authorities have not determined if the death was a murder or suicide.

Update 2 from BHB’s Weegee: The police have identified the victim as Graham Barnett, 42, of 166 Hicks Street. He was pronounced dead by EMS at 4:15 p.m., and was found to have multiple stab wounds to the torso. Cops recovered knives at the scene, and do not suspect criminality. Barnett’s wife was being questioned at the 84th Precinct.

Update 3: The NY Sun is the first paper with a blurb, reiterating weegee’s report that the police do not suspect criminality:

Mr. Barnett was married with two young twin girls, according to a neighbor who has lived in the community for the past 30 years.

BHB Photo by Marc Hermann

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  • rubydoo

    scary! has anyone been apprehended?

  • concerned

    please don’t spread rumors that frighten people until you know the facts. it
    ‘s reckless + irresponsible.

  • anon

    please don’t feed the concerned troll either

  • ABC

    “… was found to have multiple stab wounds to the torso. Cops recovered knives at the scene, and do not suspect criminality. ”

    The hell? They think it was suicide? (and isn’t it a common law crime to commit suicide?) Multiple stab wounds to himself?


  • anon

    Thanks for the update, Weegee…. By “Cops … do not suspect criminality,” do you mean that it was likely a suicide or that they don’t suspect someone broke in?

  • weegee

    Anon – the “no suspicion of criminality” refers to the death itself; of course, the investigation is ongoing, but they must know something pretty substantial to have gone public with that just hours after the incident.

    ABC – I recall an incident when I lived in Pennsylvania two years ago, in which a man stabbed himself a dozen times while in a motel room.

    It’s a horrible story any way you look at it. It got some of us in the press pack thinking that there’s not been a homicide in Brooklyn Heights for quite a long time. The last one I can remember was the Sarah Auerbach/Rick Valera murder/suicide in April, 1994. Am I mistaken?

  • concerned

    this is a sad, tragic situation for the Barnetts as well as their friends and neighbors. thank you for the prompt correction on this horrific story. at this moment, we should all mourn Graham’s passing and wish the best to his wife and children.

  • Jon

    Re: The below comment — actually, as these other people pointed out, this posting doesn’t make sense. True, it’s not 100% inconsistent to say multiple stab wounds AND no criminality, but what is that based on? And who says the police have “gone public” with anything? If this site is going to say that the police don’t suspect criminality, it should explain the basis. Did someone from the PD say that? Who? When? What you’re reporting is obviously counterintuitive so please elaborate!!

    Anon – the “no suspicion of criminality” refers to the death itself; of course, the investigation is ongoing, but they must know something pretty substantial to have gone public with that just hours after the incident.

  • AB

    A gruesome murder or suicide…identity-theft that shutters four stores…a mysterious amputation…”trigger-happy teens on Heights rampage”…a burnt out supermarket….

    …and all within five or six blocks of one another in our p’tit bucolic burg.


  • weegee

    Jon –

    As with any police matter, “official” information is released by the NYPD Office of the Deputy Commissioner of Public Information. This is the department’s vessel for this sort of thing, and 99% of news stories that have “according to police…” in them are using their information. The phrase “no criminality is suspected” is a stock phrase, used countless times, but when the incident is hours old and an investigation is ongoing, no one can officially say “it was a suicide, the end.” Facts are going to be limited and basic in the early stages, and, speculation and rumor aside, you just can’t expect every informational gap to be filled yet. I can only post what’s known to be true, and has been deemed appropriate for public dissemination by the agency in charge of the investigation.

  • Jon

    Now I’m even more confused. First you wrote that the police “do not suspect criminality.” Now you say that’s a “stock phrase.” What does that mean? That you wrote it for no particular reason? That you always write that until you hear definitively that the police *do* suspect criminality? Or do you have some reason to think that the police affirmatively believe that there was no criminality in this case?

    My point is this — your site reported that the victim was found in a bathtub, stabbed to death. I SUSPECT CRIMINALITY. I’d be willing to bet that the police do too. So my question is this: Do you have some reason for asserting that the police DO NOT SUSPECT CRIMINALITY? If so, what is it? I’m sure I’m not the only one who’d like to know.

  • weegee

    Jon –

    “No criminality is suspected” is an NYPD phrase, which appears on the informational slip released by them for this incident. That is my reason for asserting this, because that’s what THEY said, not me. They don’t say that for every investigation, so not every would-be homicide is an accident until someone gets arrested. For example, a bicyclist was hit by a car on the Bowery at 1:30 yesterday morning. The driver of the offending vehicle remained at the scene, and was not arrested. “No criminality is suspected” appeared on the slip. If they were looking for a suspect, they would either identify the perpetrator, or say that “no arrests have been made” with the understanding that that could change as the case develops.

    I’m not a detective investigating this case, and it would be irresponsible of me to say “even though the NYPD has stated there is no criminality suspected, I think there is.” On what would I base such a claim? I’m not in the speculation business, and this is not about what I think.

    The New York Sun has now published a news brief about this story, using the same information and wording.

  • Jon

    I wasn’t asking you to be in the speculation business, just the citing-your-sources business. You could have just said:

    The NYPD released an informational slip stating that “[n]o criminality is suspected.”

    My original question was “what is that based on?” Evidently the answer is “a NYPD informational slip.” This concludes our lesson in how to convey information.

  • BKBS

    I can’t think of a single publication that would write, “According to a NYPD information slip…”

    Jon, are you a journalist? I don’t quite understand the standards that you are suggesting here. It seems to me (a consumer of the press, not a producer of it) that Weegee has followed journalistic standards, but I’m curious about what the professional conventions are in these cases, if you know.

  • Jazz

    Jon is a troll. Don’t feed the trolls.

  • Yuppers

    Jon, you’re being an ass.

  • HDEB

    Someone died and left behind two young girls. Why anyone would concerned about the journalistic integrity of a blog posting is beyond me.
    My thoughts and sympathies go out to his wife and children.

  • Jazz

    HDEB, you have once again proven your humanity.

  • Harry K

    I am *not* a conspiracy theorist. But suicide by multiple stab wounds to the torso? All those helicopters overhead at the time? So many police, and, according to yesterday’s Brooklyn Daily Eagle, “High-ranking” members of the police force? No article yet in the New York Times? What’s going on here? Weegee, as amember of the press pack, how do you answer these questions?

  • bornhere

    Good God, Harry.

  • Harry K

    Well, I’m not sure if “Good God” means that I sound crazier than a conspiracy theorist, but I fear that is the implication. So let’s forget my bevy of questions (sounding like Jimmy Stewart trying to put the pieces together in Rear Window) and just ask if it’s typical to bring out that many cops and vehicles and close off the whole block when a dead body is found in a house. Maybe the answer is actually “Yes” – I wouldn’t know. It just had the smell of crime to me, and I sure can think of many easier ways of taking the big sleep.

  • weegee

    Simply, yes.

    More complicatedly, now…helicopters were an initial response from TV stations, whose 5:00 airtime was fast approaching, and a quickie live shot on what was then a developing story about which no circumstances were known is best accomplished from overhead. I was stuck at Federal Court in Manhattan until 5:30, but anticipated and then saw the news choppers heading towards the Heights as soon as I found out about Hicks Street.

    The “high-ranking officers” of the NYPD…keep in mind each precinct has a Commanding Officer, Executive Officer, and some Lieutenants. Add on to that the “Brooklyn North” command, which fields a Duty Captain or Duty Inspector each tour, who respond on potentially important incidents. That’s more than a couple white shirts walking around in the 84th Precinct that day. If you get arrested for stealing a pack of gum, the patrol Sergeant has to respond to “verify” the arrest. A body found in a bathtub, understandably, brings a supervisory presence.

    The lack of mainstream media coverage hinges on two factors: time of day, and the fact that suicides don’t usually make the paper. That’s not to trivialize the loss of a life, but it’s just the way it is. Once we were starting to get word that this was a suicide, more than a couple reporters mentioned that, well, it likely wouldn’t make the edition.

    As a veteran of more than my share of homicide coverage over the past 11 years, I can assure you that this was by no means a horde of cops. At most homicides, the officer in charge might call a “level 1 mobilization,” which will bring a certain amount of additional power from, in our case, the Brooklyn North Task Force, to provide security to the crime scene, as well as assist in the “perp search.” To the best of my knowledge, a “level 1″ wasn’t called; I didn’t see any BNTF personnel, just a couple beat cops from the 84, and a couple Crime Scene Unit officers. You’d see more if there were a suspect at large. It’s similar to when newspapers describe an “immense fleet of fire trucks” and assuming that it’s a multi-alarm conflagration. The fact is, a response of three engine companies, two ladder companies, and a battalion chief is a standard response to even an unverified report of a structural incident. The same concept holds true for police operations. So, to those of us who respond to these things routinely, who have seen bona fine “large responses” of emergency resources, I can assure you this honestly wasn’t that large a contingent. Unusual for Brooklyn Heights, yes, but by standards of the stuff I run on on the typical weekend night, not that big.

    Every crime scene is different, and perimeters are established differently. There is no one standard. I’ve been to honest-to-goodness homicides where I was an arm’s reach from the deceased victim, and could read the lettering on shell casings. I’ve been to minor incidents at which I, and others, were kept half a block away, in spite of the press card’s sounds-good-on-paper wording entitling the bearer to “cross police and lines when formed.”

    As for the forensics involved, I’ve not heard anything official from the Medical Examiner, but we need to consider the possibility that each of the “multiple wounds” may not have, own its own, been fatal. As I said earlier, a nearly identical incident happened in a Pennsylvania motel a couple years ago.

  • Harry K

    Thanks very much for the insight, weegee. I’ve certainly never been near many crime scenes, and though I happen to have a few reporter friends, none of them are crime reporters. And since writing my two posts, I’ve spoken with a friend who knew someone who knew the personal details of the situation, and it was most certainly a suicide. I’ll stop playing Jimmy Stewart.

    I don’t know if this is considered prying, but I’m curious to know what paper or papers employ you. I know of the gentleman whose name you borrowed for an ID here, but you write so clearly that I’m guessing you’re a writer – are you a photographer as well?



  • weegee

    Anytime, Mr. K.

    Thanks for the compliment; my editors do appreciate coherent photo captions, but that’s the extent of my professional writing. I’m a freelance lensman first and foremost, primarily contributing to the Daily News, though my pictures turn up in the Eagle now and again.

  • T.K. Small

    I agree with Harry in complementing the clarity of weegee’s writing. With the acceptance of the myriad forms of electronic communications, the ability to write is getting quite compromised. Although it takes a little more effort I tried to take the time to adequately explain my thoughts.

    Thank you for the effort.