‘So heartless’: Funeral set for Atlanta man gunned down during morning walk

Ronald Barner (right) and his daughter, Andria Mapp.
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Ronald Barner (right) and his daughter, Andria Mapp.

Credit: Family Photo

Ronald Barner adored his family.

The 58-year-old suffered from long-term back problems and lived off disability, but that didn’t stop him from splurging on birthday dinners for his two children or sitting for hours on uncomfortable stadium bleachers as he rooted for his grandson’s middle school football team.

His life was cut short March 13 when he was gunned down in his southwest Atlanta neighborhood during a morning walk. No arrests have been made in the case, but Atlanta police are searching for two men seen following Barner on a home’s security camera.

“He was a very loving and compassionate guy,” his daughter, Andria Mapp, told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “His family was extremely important to him and he always showed up when we needed him most.”

Barner’s funeral will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Willie A. Watkins Funeral Home.

As police continue their investigation, Mapp said her family is struggling to understand why anyone would have killed her father, who moved into the neighborhood about five weeks earlier after his sister’s death.

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“We’re just kind of at a loss,” she said, adding that Barner’s body was discovered near his home that Saturday morning. “It just seems very random to us.”

He was killed in the 3000 block of Valeland Avenue after officers patrolling the area near Campbellton Road heard a barrage of gunfire and went to investigate, Atlanta police said. Barner had been shot several times and was found dead outside a home that was under construction.

Investigators believe it may have been the result of an attempted robbery, but Barner’s cellphone and bank card were still in his pocket, said Mapp. He typically carried cash, but investigators said he only had a dollar and some change on him when officers discovered his body. Mapp, 37, wonders if whoever shot him may have gone through his pockets and taken the larger bills.

The grandfather used a cane to get around, and the surveillance video released by police appears to show the man walking home just before he was killed.

“We are all devastated. We’re angry,” Mapp said. “He was an older gentleman and visibly on a cane. How could you be so heartless?”

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A three-sport athlete in his high school years, Barner loved the Atlanta Falcons and never missed a game during football season, Mapp said. He made it a point to keep in touch with his childhood teammates over the years, and many of them will attend his memorial service Saturday morning, she said.

caption arrowCaption
Ronald Barner (left) loved his family and the Atlanta Falcons. He was shot to death earlier this month while walking in his southwest Atlanta neighborhood.

Credit: Family Photo

Ronald Barner (left) loved his family and the Atlanta Falcons. He was shot to death earlier this month while walking in his southwest Atlanta neighborhood.
caption arrowCaption
Ronald Barner (left) loved his family and the Atlanta Falcons. He was shot to death earlier this month while walking in his southwest Atlanta neighborhood.

Credit: Family Photo

Credit: Family Photo

While any death is devastating, Mapp said she and her family expected her father to grow old with them.

“I want justice for my dad,” she said. “It hits harder when it’s someone that you love and someone that you didn’t expect to pass away like this. I fully expected my dad to just pass away from old age.”

Though he lived on a fixed income, Barner’s family said he went out his way to treat them to birthday dinners and loved spoiling his two grandsons any chance he got.

“He made sure to show up to as many games as he could for my nephew,” Mapp said. “You know those stadium seats aren’t very comfortable, but it was important for him to be out there.”

Barner called his daughter as often as he could to ask about her life and would always tell her that he just wanted to hear her voice.

“We never got off the phone without saying we loved each other,” Mapp said, adding she’ll miss their conversations.

The search continues for the two suspects seen following Barner in the surveillance video. One man appeared to be wearing white and black sneakers and the other wore gray pants and a black hoodie, according to Atlanta police. They were last seen in a silver Nissan Sentra that was built between 2014 and 2017.

A $2,000 reward has been offered for information leading to arrests in the case. Anyone who recognizes the suspects or knows their whereabouts is asked to contact Atlanta police. Tipsters can remain anonymous, and be eligible for the reward, by contacting Crime Stoppers Atlanta at 404-577-8477, texting information to 274637 or visiting the Crime Stoppers website.