Dean Barker’s four adult sons have just one question for the people who killed their father earlier this week.
“Why? I want to know why,” said Tim Barker, the third oldest of the four brothers.
Dean Barker, 59, was shot and killed just after midnight Monday while sitting in the driver’s seat of his taxicab in the 300 block of Mimi Lane. The motive for the shooting remains unknown, police said.
Understanding the seemingly senseless violence that claimed their father’s life would help the struggling Barker brothers, David, Michael, Tim and Joshua.
“I don’t want to point fingers. I don’t want retribution. I just want you to explain to me why you chose him,” said David Barker, the oldest. “If I could understand why, maybe I could be able to sleep normal again.”
Merced police have released few details about the case. Commenting on specifics could jeopardize the investigation, Capt. Tom Trindad said.
No arrests have been made and no suspect descriptions have been released.
Dean Barker was a well-known driver with the Merced Taxicab Co., where he worked for about seven years, family members said.
He grew up in Winton and had a difficult time, according to his family. His sons said he was forced to steal food as a child and wound up in trouble with the law as a young man.
But that also made him aware of what other people didn’t have, Michael Barker said. “So whenever he could help somebody out, he did so without a problem.”
Dean Barker worked a series of different jobs throughout his life. He was a police officer in Dos Palos, a real estate agent, owned a roofing company for a few years, cooked for restaurants, delivered sandwiches, filled candy machines, anything to keep his family together.
“We never really celebrated (Christmas) in December. It was always in April, after his (tax return) came in,” said David Barker. One April Christmas, the sons said, Dean Barker stayed up all night putting together the bicycles he’d bought for all four of his sons.
He was described as a generous, kind man, who frequently went out of his way to help strangers.
His sons said the numerous stories about their father that have been posted to the Merced Sun-Star website and Facebook page have been a source of comfort in recent days – giving them free rides when they couldn’t pay, delivering food to hungry college students on his day off, and picking up homeless people in the rain.
“So many stories we never knew because he would never tell anybody. It’s been really overwhelming and nice to hear,” said Michael Barker, 36, the second-oldest son.
He works as a security guard at Mercy Medical Center and was on duty when his father was rushed to the hospital Monday.
“I saw him come in and there was blood everywhere. They said it was a taxicab driver, but nobody would say anything. I was worried that it was (a friend of) my dad,” Michael Barker said, wiping tears from his eyes. “I started texting my dad, saying ‘Dad, I just want to know you’re OK.’ And he always answers back. And he didn’t answer.”
Dean Barker and his wife, Gloria, had discussed the possibility of him leaving his taxi job after the New Year, but he decided to keep working for a few extra months to save more money before moving away.
“My daughter misses her grandpa, and what can I do, I miss my dad,” said Tim Barker. “We were making plans to see each other and now I can’t see my dad anymore.”
A memorial service is scheduled Tuesday at 2 p.m. at Apostolic Tabernacle, 2745 Highway 140, Merced, the family said.
The family has established two accounts to accept donations to help pay funeral costs. To donate to the Dean Allen Barker Memorial Fund, go to any branch of the Educational Employees Credit Union. Donations are also being accepted online at a GoFundMe account for the Dean Allen Barker Estate.
Merced police ask anyone with any information regarding the crime to call Sgt. Scott Skinner at (209) 385-6913 or (209) 385-4702, or the Merced Police Department’s Tipster Line at (209) 385-4725. Information can also be sent via anonymous text messages to the department by dialing TIP411 (847411) and including the word “Comvip” as the keyword in the text message. Tips are confidential and callers may remain anonymous.