Man who caused lockdown at local elementary school sentenced in federal court

SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - A man convicted on serious gun and drug charges, and who caused a lockdown at Millbridge Elementary School in May, will serve more than nine years in prison.

Late last month, Barry Ray Howard, age 58, was sentenced to a term of 112 months in United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina.

Howard, a former resident of 1131 Meadowcreek Drive, China Grove, North Carolina, was convicted of felon in possession of firearm.   The conviction followed a two week federal, state and local investigation into drug and gun trafficking emanating from the Howard's home.

The investigation was conducted jointly by the Rowan County Sheriff's Office, North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI), Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) and the Department of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI).

On Thursday, May 15, 2014, Howard was arrested when investigators executed a search warrant at his residence, which resulted in a Code Yellow Lockdown of the nearby Millbridge Elementary School.

During the course of the investigation, officers, working undercover, were able to purchase large amounts of oxymorphone and other drugs from Howard, as well as a .38 handgun, with an obliterated serial number.  Five handguns, two rifles, one shotgun and hundreds of rounds of ammunition were recovered during the search of the residence.

Investigators also located hundreds of dosage units of prescription pain medications, clearly being diverted from seemingly legitimate purchases to black market distribution.  An additional $5,000 was found in a safe deposit box, after the execution of a second search warrant at a Landis, North Carolina, bank.  Howard has an extensive criminal history in Rowan and Cabarrus counties for drug trafficking and being a habitual offender, among others.

The Rowan County Sheriff's Office appreciates the collaborative efforts of the various federal and state agencies, as well as the prosecution of the case by the United States Attorney's Office.