Barney, the purple dinosaur that has entertained and educated children for almost 30 years, encourages love and hugs. But the boy who inspired his inception, now 29-years-old, clearly missed the message. The son of the creator of the Barney the dinosaur character, is headed to jail for shooting his Malibu, Calif., neighbor.
Patrick Kearns Leach was charged with and pleaded no contest to attempted murder. He is expected to receive a 15-year sentence for his fit of rage that led to the firing of a .45 caliber handgun at his neighbor and leaving the neighbor lying there bleeding before driving off on Jan. 9, 2013. Leach will be formally sentenced in a Los Angeles County courtroom on June 29. Clearly, mom’s money and growing up in a wealthy enclave Malibu did not help the younger Leach build a bright future.
When Leach was a toddler, he loved a dinosaur exhibit in a museum and became obsessed with dinosaurs, which then inspired his mom – Sheryl Leach – to create her purple character and story lines about him to entertain her son. Those mommy and son times morphed in the millions the family made from the PBS television series Barney & Friends, its spinoff internationally successful movies, merchandise, theme park attraction and more.
The incident took place in front of a residence purchased decades ago by Sheryl Leach on a gated Malibu residential neighborhood lined with luxurious residences. Patrick Leach drove his black SUV up a shared drive between the homes, parked his car on land belonging to his neighbor, Eric Shanks, whom he then proceeded to accuse of having trespassed on his property. The two argued, then Leach pulled out his handgun and fired at the 49-year-old Shanks several times. One bullet struck Shanks in the chest. Leach then took off in his vehicle, leaving Shanks lying there.
Someone in the vicinity noted the license plate of the black vehicle. The person then put life-saving pressure on the chest wound to stop the bleeding until paramedics arrived.
The Barney heir was stopped by police in the area. Reportedly, he was wearing body armor and had other weapons with him when arrested.
Shanks survived the chest shooting and actually filed a lawsuit against Sheryl Leach. He maintains that she was negligent in allowing her son, who lives in her Malibu house, to own a gun given “his violent tendencies.” No explanation was been released exactly what is meant in the violent tendencies beyond this incident or whether there had been previous ones.
There is no indication or information released as to what Patrick Leach was doing for a living at the time of the shooting. He is listed as a co-author on a book about the children’s television series, Barney’s Book of Hugs, that was published in 1997, when he was a child.
Sheryl Leach left the Barney & Friends show in 1992, but went on to work on direct-to-video home releases featuring the dinosaur and his buddies. She and her husband spend much of their time in Connecticut, working on land conservation projects. The Barney the dinosaur creator has not made any public statements about the fact that her son and inspiration is headed to jail for shooting their neighbor.
By Dyanne Weiss
New York Daily News: Son of ‘Barney’ the purple dinosaur creator pleads no contest to shooting Malibu neighbor in fit of rage
CBS News: Patrick Leach, son of “Barney” co-creator, arrested in shooting of neighbor
Seattle Times: Son of ‘Barney’ creator faces 15 years in prison for shooting neighbor
Hollywood Reporter: ‘Barney’ Creator Sued by Man Allegedly Shot by Her Son
ASPIRE: Sheryl Leach