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Courtney Barnes / Facebook & Instagram | Remix by Max Fleishman

Meet Courtney Barnes, America’s next top eyewitness news star

'The police car just twist around like a tornado, girl!'


Mary Emily O'Hara

Internet Culture

Posted on Jun 10, 2015   Updated on May 28, 2021, 3:06 pm CDT

When a van being chased by a police cruiser crashed into a second cop car Monday in Jackson, Mississippi, bystanders were in shock. The officer in the second cruiser was badly injured: Witnesses said the car “wrapped around the pole” and that the officer’s head smashed through the windshield, shattering the glass.

The officer was taken to a hospital on Monday night and recovered well. According to local station MS News Now, the officer was ready to be released on Wednesday.

But no one expected the tragic crash to yield a breakout viral video star.

Jackson resident Courtney Barnes happened to be “going to get a piece of burger from Burger King” when the crash took place. Barnes was interviewed by an MS News Now reporter, and his description of the events—not to mention bright green hair, a long full set of matching green acrylic nails, and stacks of false eyelashes—resulted in viral gold.

Within five hours of being posted to Facebook on Wednesday, Barnes’s eyewitness video had garnered more than 2 million views and had been shared more than 123,000 times.

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While some viewers may be tempted to dismiss the video’s popularity as an example of the hilarious black neighbor trope that similarly brought fame to Cleveland’s Charles Ramsey and which got a sendup in the opening credits of the Netflix show Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Barnes is more than just a newly minted viral star—he’s also a local celebrity in his own right.

Barnes posted his own videos of the crash scene on his (amazing) Instagram, too.

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And then, Barnes proceeded to try to use the moment of viral fame to reach his idol Nicki Minaj

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According to Barnes, it worked—Nicki herself got in touch to let Barnes know his eyebrows were “on fleek.”

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Barnes reached some heights of TV fame before, too, when he auditioned for So You Think You Can Dance at 22, with a flamboyant and sexy vogue-like routine that judge Mary Murphy referred to as “divalicious.” Barnes’s captivating, sweet, and bubbly personality was apparent as soon as he opened his mouth to bless the judges with a Wendy Williams impression, then gently egged on judge Nigel Lythgoe. 

Barnes’s Instagram indicates that he’s also on the current season of SYTYCD. In fact, just one week ago he took a pic of his ticket to Vegas.

Barnes’s Facebook page is chock full of incredible self-shot videos that each have hundreds, often thousands, of views. In the most recent video show, Barnes wears long, black claws and incredible painted eyebrows, and says to the camera, “You know what? When you hoes try to pull that fucked shit and act like I don’t matter, I just step my game up and I come a little harder.”

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Each video—many of which feature Barnes singing—ends with a cute wink and a smile. In one vid, Barnes says, “So look you guys. Tell me if I’m wrong. I know I am not the only one that know haters. If you see a hater, you just tell them that I said ‘hey, how are you? How is your day? Is there anything I can do to help you? Praise the lord.'” Amazing.

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If there’s ever been anyone who needed their own show, it’s Barnes. 

Photos via Courtney Barnes / Facebook & Instagram | Remix by Max Fleishman

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*First Published: Jun 10, 2015, 8:33 pm CDT