In 2012, American criminal Jason Barnum became somewhat of a worldwide sensation. The then-37-year-old entered the courtroom with a tattoo that filled the white of his right eye, giving him the nickname “Eyeball,” as he pleaded guilty to shooting a police officer in Anchorage, Alaska.
Barnum’s past was filled with troublesome behavior, and in the end, he got the sentence he deserved. But he also inadvertently became a sensation online.
As Jason began serving his long sentence, another very confusing rumor spread worldwide. An ad suggested that his father was one of the most beloved American actors out there. Now, the truth has been revealed.
Jason Barnum had long lived a destructive life before it finally caught up with him in September 2012.
Barnum was at an Anchorage hotel when the police suddenly burst into the room he was staying in, and he fired his gun. It led to him wounding a police officer, sustaining injuries to himself, and later getting sentenced to more than 20 years in prison. But it was his tattooed eyeball that made him somewhat famous.
So, let’s look at what happened.
Who is Jason Barnum, known as “Eyeball”?
On September 12, 2012, three police officers investigated break-ins in vehicles and burglaries in the south of Anchorage. Anchorage Police Chief Mark Mew said at a news conference that the burglaries usually occurred when residents were home. While investigating, the police officers suddenly spotted a vehicle connected to the crimes in a parking lot near a hotel.
The police saw something suspicious on the hotel surveillance camera, seeing a man carrying some bags into room 209 from the vehicle. Once inside, the police handcuffed a man after finding a stolen gun. And in the bathroom, police heard a woman making “retching sounds,” pretending to be sick.
The police officers ordered her to leave the bathroom – but she wasn’t alone there. Behind her was Jason Barnum, who, after she emerged from the bathroom, began firing a gun, according to prosecutors.
Officer Dan Thyen – a 15-and-a-half-year veteran at the police department at the time – was injured by Barnum’s shots. He was struck in the back, but luckily, his injuries were not life-threatening.
The officers exited the hotel room, shooting back at Barnum, and soon, many other police officers joined in. The police evacuated guests from the hotel. Not long after, SWAT officers were at the scene.
According to Police Chief Mark Mew, officers spoke to Jason Barnum through the door. Not long after, he surrendered.
Speaking at a news conference, he claimed Barnum to be a heroin user who showed symptoms of drug use after the incident had happened.
“Someone just blasting away from behind a door, that’s unusual,” Mew said. “And, of course they responded in kind, rather quickly.”
Earned the nickname “Eyeball” after having his right eyeball tattooed black
Jason Barnum was handcuffed, walked out of the hotel room, and placed on a stretcher to be taken to the hospital. He had been shot in his right arm, but after a short trip to the hospital, he was moved into police custody.
Police found jewelry, jewelry boxes, and other valuables in a backpack in the hotel room. Later, it was clear that Barnrum had gone on a crime spree, including stealing cars and burglarizing homes to keep up his heroin addiction. Just a day after the incident, Barnum was arraigned on one count of attempted murder and two counts of felony assault. His bail was set at $500,000
At the hearing, when asked if he had read the criminal complaint and if he wanted an attorney, he responded, “Sure, why not.”
The shooting at the hotel was not the first time Jason Barnum had been involved in criminal activity. Previously, he had been accused and convicted of 14 crimes, including four felony charges. Moreover, he also had convictions for burglary, theft, assault, and resisting arrest. Before being arrested at the hotel, Barum said, he had not worked for six months.
The fact that one person shot – and could possibly have killed – a police officer was, of course, horrible. But what the world saw as he walked into the courtroom made Jason Barnum a famous criminal.
Barnum’s face was covered with skulls and skeletons. And while his lips were rimmed with skeleton teeth – his right eyeball was the thing that had many concerned. It was completely tattooed black – and he was given the nickname “Eyeball.” Where or why he had done it was never revealed.
The whites of his right eyeball had been tattooed black. At the time, it was a relatively new practice, which was done by inserting ink under the eye’s surface. As the National Post reported, the pigment is trapped in the sclera, which is the white of the eye, and the ink slowly moves around to cover the entire eyeball.
Didn’t get a job because of eyeball and face tattoos
While some have done it, the procedure of getting the eyeball tattooed is very risky. It can lead to infections, inflammations – and even blindness.
“I think Jason Barnum decided a long time ago that his life was about being hostile to people,” Anchorage Police Department Chief Mark Mew told local reporters. “It seems to me that he wakes up everyday wanting to do bad things to innocent folks and wants everybody to know it.”
Because of his face, Barnum said, he couldn’t get a job and therefore became a criminal.
“I was living on the streets, and I tried to get a job, but of course, my beautiful face didn’t allow me to do that,” Barnum said during the hearing.
When explaining his criminal past, Barnum took some of the blame. However, he put some of it on the Alaska Department of Corrections, saying he didn’t get any help after leaving prison in 2010.
At his sentencing hearing, Barnum said, “Everybody knows that I’m not the nicest guy. I understand that what I did was wrong, I can’t take none of it back.”
“I tried man, I apolozige to the folks who are hurt from this.”
While an eye tattoo might be terrifying for others, it’s essential to know that just because one person has that kind of tattoo, we can’t judge them beforehand.
In Barnum’s case, of course, he had been a criminal for years, but it was probably not the tattoo that made him a criminal. With that said, the crimes he committed were horrible.
Jason “Eyeball” Barnum was sentenced to 22 years after shooting a police officer
Before the sentence was given, Police Chief Officer Mark Mew spoke on that subject.
“I’m going to stick my neck out here and state the obvious. I’d like you to take a look at Mr. Barnum. He has the right to do this to himself and to express himself,” he said. “We can’t sentence him for that, but I think we can consider a guy’s attitude and his behavior.
In 2015, Jason “Eyeball” Barnum was convicted and sentenced to 22 years. Deputy District Attorney Clint Campion announced that Barnum pleaded guilty to attempted murder, a consolidated first-degree burglary charge, and third-degree weapons misconduct.
While he was satisfied with the resolution, the sentence could have been more significant if Barnum had been convicted after a trial.
“But there’s always risk with going to trial,” Campion said. “There was a lot of litigation in the case, some of which went our way and some that was still undecided.”
So what about the eyeball tattoo, which Jason Barnum – nicknamed “Eyeball.” It’s safe to say it is risky, but how bad could it possibly be?
According to John A. Hovanesian, MD, clinical spokesperson for the American Academy of Ophthalmology (AAO) and surgeon at Harvard Eye Associates in Laguna Hills, an eyeball tattoo is very risky. As previously mentioned, one could become wholly blind or even lose an eye.
As of 2020, eyeball tattoos had not been studied medically or scientifically. While the ink itself can do a lot of damage to the eye, the needle is also of concern.
Fake claim about Jason “Eyeball” Barnum and Harrison Ford spread across the internet
If it’s not positioned correctly, the ink can be injected inside the eye, onto the retina, or into the tissue that surrounds the eye. These mistakes, according to Hovanesian, can have grim consequences.
“It is particularly devastating to any patient who decides to have their eyes tattooed, as removing the eye might be the only way to reduce the incredible pain that would frequently follow this ghastly procedure,” Hovanesian told the Ophthalmology Times. “It is not worth it, it would be tragic to lose your sight.”
If Jason “Eyeball” Barnum had his eyeball tattoo made in prison, the risks of severe consequences for his eye are way more extensive. According to Dr. Kathleen Rice of the Eye Clinic of Fairbanks, the method of creating ink, whether by mixing carbon into soap or using ink from ballpoint pens, is most likely not sterile and poses a health risk.
“A surgeon who has to go in there and clean up the eye, they don’t know what was used,” she told the Anchorage Daily News. “They don’t know what sort of bugs could be in there.”
While there is no official information about where Jason Barnum, now 46 years of age is serving his sentence, his alleged Facebook profile says as of 2017, he’s serving his sentence at the Spring Creek Correctional Center in Seward, Alaska.
Meanwhile, news about him and a possible father of his has spread across the internet. as seen above. The rumor is that, according to an ad, he is the son of beloved Hollywood actor Harrison Ford.
The Indiana Jones and Star Wars actor has shown up next to “Eyball” Barnum in a Revcontent article titled “Harrison Ford has pretty much given up on his son.”
The sad and unfortunate rumor is not true at all. However, the irresponsible and false claim probably has had many people wondering if it is true – which is not.