Devastated friends and family turned out Monday for the funeral of Airman Kerby Barbe at Crofts Funeral Home in Blanco.
Barbe was found dead after what has been described as a standoff with Sheriff’s deputies last Tuesday, January 11.
According to Sergeant Bob Shelton, an investigator with the Blanco County Sheriff’s Office, at approximately 4pm, two Sheriff’s deputies responded to the 100 block of North Stallion Estates Drive to check on the welfare of 19-year-old Kerby James Barbe, a white male, who was reportedly absent without leave from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri.
Upon arrival, the deputies learned that Barbe had driven a vehicle into a wooded area behind the house. When officers approached the vehicle, according to the report, they heard a single gunshot and withdrew to a safe distance.
A perimeter was set up in the subdivision, located in the southern end of Blanco County, in an attempt to locate Barbe. Sheriff’s deputies received assistance in the search from the Blanco Police Department, Johnson City Police Department, Burnet County Sheriff’s Office, and the LCRA Police Department. Officers blocked traffic from entering the subdivision and searched vehicles that were leaving. All citizens in the subdivision were safely evacuated, according to a press release issued by the Sheriff’s Office.
The DPS SWAT team was later called in at 9pm for further assistance and arrived in the subdivision in two armored, all-terrain vehicles.
Barbe’s body was found in the woods, Sgt. Shelton said, dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Shelton reported that Barbe was armed with a rifle, 300 rounds of ammunition, and military body armor.
The Blanco County Sheriff’s Office is investigating with the assistance of the Texas Rangers.
“At no time during the standoff did local enforcement agents return fire,” Shelton reported. “No one else on the scene, officer or civilian, was injured.”
Information from the Air Force Office of Special Investigations stated that Barbe was a suspect in the disappearance of another airman, later named as Airman First Class Luis M. Vazquez.
Searchers with the Johnson County, Missouri, Sheriff’s Office discovered the body of Vazquez in a remote area of Knob Noster State Park, near Whiteman Air Force Base. Vazquez was first reported missing by United States Air Force officials on Tuesday, January 11, after he failed to report for duty the day before. Barbe was also reported missing on Monday.
According to a report released by the Sheriff’s office in Missouri, investigators have determined that Vazquez and Barbe were friends and lived in separate rooms in the same dormitory on the Air Force base. Both airmen were recently assigned to Whiteman after completing their training together at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, the report continues.
The report also states that investigators learned that Barbe told a female companion that he had critically injured another airman and left him in the state park.
The report did not indicate the cause of Vazquez’s death, nor the reasons behind it, which are still under investigation.
Barbe was a 2009 graduate of Blanco High School and graduated Air Force Basic in the fall of 2010.
This article was updated with the latest information released by Sheriffs' Offices. The Air Force has forwarded all calls to the Johnson County, Missouri, Sheriff's Office.