A man who fled from a Gainesville probation office Tuesday with a probation officer in his truck also had his young daughter in the vehicle, according to the Hall County Sheriff’s Office.
Michael John Barnier Jr., 44, was at the office on Aviation Boulevard for a scheduled visit when he was told he had a felony warrant out of Tennessee, sheriff’s office Sgt. Stephen Wilbanks said.
Wilbanks gave the girl’s age as 14, but a close relative of hers said she is 12.
Barnier broke a window in the bathroom of the office and ran at about 3:50 p.m., Wilbanks said. He jumped in his pickup as a probation officer chased him. The officer attempted to stop him before also jumping in the truck.
The truck, with all three in tow, headed down Interstate 985 at a “very high rate of speed,” Wilbanks said.
Barnier got off at the Spout Springs Road exit and, after stopping the vehicle at a barbecue restaurant in Flowery Branch, ran from the scene on foot.
He faces charges of aggravated assault on a peace officer, two counts of misdemeanor obstruction, felony obstruction, felony fleeing and eluding, reckless driving, cruelty to child in the second degree, driving with no license and interference with government property.
He is being held at the Hall County Jail.
The original warrant from the sheriff’s office in Athens, Tenn., was for theft by taking, said Gwendolyn Hogan, public relations and information coordinator with the Georgia Department of Corrections.
Barnier was on probation for entering the Hall County Jail with contraband items and theft by taking in Dougherty County, Hogan said.
Court records show he crossed the guard line of the jail with 16 pills, a small bag of marijuana and multiple small bags of tobacco in an April 8, 2006, incident. The document was filed in August 2008; he was sentenced to four years’ probation.
Barnier has several previous arrests in Hall County. Court records show a battery charge and other charges resulting from a domestic incident on March 27, 2006. Wilbanks said Barnier also had warrants from other jurisdictions.
The Gainesville probation office referred all questions to the Georgia Department of Corrections public affairs office.
Hogan said the incident is under investigation and the office does not comment on pending investigations.