Jon Barbour: Murder Try Charge Over Squirrels That Channel His Dead Parents?

"Only in Boulder" is a popular phrase in these parts — and the story of Jon Barbour certainly seems as if it was made for the People's Republic.

To whit: Barbour (who's technically from Gunbarrel, in Boulder County) has been charged with attempted murder for shooting a neighbor in the buttocks, reportedly over a fight about feeding squirrels that he sees as a way to connect with his late parents.

On his Facebook page, which features this portrait taken during a recent trip to Japan....

...Barbour basks in his love of squirrels — a passion that's led him to describe himself as "The Squirrel Guy."

On March 22, for instance, he posted this shot....

...along with the text, "One of the guys peeking at me on the mid day squirrel walk."

And on April 6, he shared this shot....

...along with a caption that notes, "A young female eating a cashew she took from Susan [his wife] this morning."

Feeding squirrels nuts is a big part of this tale, as you'll see.

Also on view are multiple shots of graves Barbour created for squirrels.

On April 18, for instance, he wrote: "Two little ones did not make it through the storm. Susan Moore and I buried them near the other Little One, from a week ago, and the Old Guy this afternoon. I placed them together in a BR Toy Store bag from Finland and then in a box as I felt they had spent time together in life so their spirits should also be together in death."

Here's the first photo that accompanied the paragraph.... a second....

...and a third:

The previous mention of "Old Guy" is one of several on the page.

Here's a shot of a bunny visiting Old Guy's grave.

And on May 9, Barbour shared the photo of Old Guy at the top of this post.

"It has been just over 6 months since lost the Old Guy," he wrote.

In addition, here's a photo of the mascot Barbour took on the aforementioned Japan trip:

But amid the celebration of squirrels on Facebook are signs of tension over Barbour's passion. 

On March 31, for instance, he announced, "So now Susan and I have to deal with the squirrel haters in the neighborhood" — an assertion that's followed by discussions about feeding squirrels, which neighbors who spoke with the Boulder Daily Camera say he did to excess. They claim he would leave pounds of peanuts for squirrels, raising concerns about risks to children with nut allergies, not to mention exposure to diseases that may be carried by the animals.

In response, Barbour wrote a letter to neighbors dated May 8 and signed "The Squirrel Guy." The missive, obtained by the Camera, notes: "Firstly, I wish to express my deepest gratitude to those who have supported me in my communing with the spirits of my deceased parents for the last year. My parents were great animal lovers and have shown themselves to me through the squirrels in the area."

After that, though, the tone changes, with Barbour excoriating the neighborhood "haters" who've supposedly spread "innuendo" and "lies" about him during calls to the police and animal control related to squirrel feeding. "Given the current toxic atmosphere created by these few individuals, Susan and I can no longer continue to enjoy the park that we pay monthly fees to support," he maintains. "If there is any continued harassment, slander, bullying or character assassination of myself or my partner it will be handled through appropriate civil and/or criminal processes."

Barbour's the one going through the criminal justice system now. On the afternoon of May 13, he shot neighbor Jeffrey Browning in the buttocks following a spat on the 6200 block of Willow Lane. In an affidavit obtained by the Camera, Barbour told officers that Browning had taken down the letter, which he'd posted in the area, leading to a verbal confrontation that got physical when Browning hit him on the head. A struggle followed, with Browning firing a shot while they struggled on the ground.

No surprise that Browning's account is different. He told investigators that he was about ten feet from Barbour and walking in the opposite direction when the bullet struck him.

Boulder prosecutors appear to be leaning in Browning's direction. Yesterday, Barbour was formally charged with attempted murder and first-degree assault with a deadly weapon causing serious bodily injury.

All for the love of squirrels. Here's a look at Barbour's booking photo.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts