Boeing Whistleblower Who Raised Safety Concerns Found Dead

John Barnett, a former quality control engineer at Boeing who—just last week—testified against the company as part of a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit, has been found dead, the BBC reports.

Barnett, 62, who previously worked for Boeing for three decades and retired from the company in 2017, was found at his motel in Charleston, South Carolina on Saturday. The local coroner’s office says Barnett appears to have died as the result of a self-inflicted gunshot.

BBC reports that, in the “days before his death, he had been giving evidence in a whistleblower lawsuit against the company.” Barnett had been scheduled to appear in court again on Saturday for his third day of depositions related to the suit but never showed, the BBC reports. After his failure to appear, a call was put out to look for Barnett. He was subsequently found dead in his truck, which was in the parking lot of the motel he was staying at, the outlet writes.

Gizmodo asked the coroner’s office if an autopsy had been performed on Barnett. While the office didn’t answer that question, it did share the following statement about his death:

The Charleston County Coroner, Bobbi Jo O’Neal, is releasing the name of John Barnett, a 62-year-old male from Louisiana. Mr. Barnett died on March 9, 2024, from what appears to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Charleston City Police Department is the investigating agency. No further details are available at this time.

When reached for comment by Gizmodo, Boeing provided the following statement: “We are saddened by Mr. Barnett’s passing, and our thoughts are with his family and friends.”

Barnett had previously voiced concerns that Boeing employees had attached “substandard parts” to planes and that some of the aircraft had “faulty oxygen systems” that could lead to a significant number of oxygen masks malfunctioning, The Hill writes. A subsequent FAA investigation seemed to substantiate some of Barnett’s claims. The lawsuit that Barnett was involved in at the time of his death was a whistleblower retaliation lawsuit that he had filed against the company. Barnett accused Boeing of pushing him into retirement in response to the safety concerns he raised. Boeing has denied any wrongdoing.

Gizmodo also reached out to an attorney for Barnett but haven’t heard back yet. We will update this story if we do.