Marion Barry’s son dies of an overdose

WASHINGTON — Marion Christopher Barry, the son of former D.C. Mayor Marion Barry, has died of a drug overdose. He was 36 years old.

marion7_1200 AP
In this May 21, 1998 file photo, then-Washington Mayor Marion Barry hugs his son Christopher in Washington. (AP Photo/Brian K. Diggs, File)

Known as Christopher Barry for most of his life, Marion Christopher Barry was the son of Marion and Effi Barry, but his mother died from Leukemia in 2007.  Marion Barry died in 2014.

According to a police report obtained by NBC Washington, WTOP’s news partner, Christopher Barry had gone outside to smoke K-2 and PCP at around 12:10 a.m. Sunday and started “acting crazy/different” and then suddenly “dropped.”

He was found unconscious and unresponsive and was taken to George Washington University Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead, NBC Washington reports.

Cora Masters Barry confirmed her stepson’s death. In a statement emailed to WTOP, Cora Masters Barry said the news was “devastating.”

“My heart is broken.  I am in shock.  The news of his death is beyond comprehension,” she said in the statement.

Like his father, Christopher Barry had a drug problem, which he battled for years.

“This disease wants one thing from addicts and alcoholics and that is their lives,” said former Ward 1 D.C. Councilman Jim Graham. “This is a case where it won.”

Graham said he knew Christopher Barry through his father and said they spent a lot of time together during his unsuccessful run in 2015 for the Ward 8 council seat, which was left vacant after the November 2014 death of his father. His name appeared on the ballot as Marion C. Barry. He came in sixth place.

“Something very, very good has been lost here,” Graham said.  “I saw it up close, in terms of what he was able to do, and this is a tragedy.”

Graham, who has had has had his own struggles with substance abuse, said he was saddened when he learned of  Christopher Barry’s death on Sunday morning.

“I’ve been clean and sober for 39 years,” Graham said.

For at least five years, he and Christopher Barry had talked about recovery and attended recovery programs together. He said at times Christopher Barry was able to pull back from the drugs and was clean and sober for periods.

“But he never really dove into the (recovery) program,” Graham said. “If he’d done that maybe there would be a different conclusion today.”

Graham said he was very fond of Christopher Barry and that he had great respect for what he could become if it were not for his demons.

In 2015 Christopher Barry pleaded guilty to charges incurred after an outburst at local bank. He tried to withdraw a large sum of money but his account was overdrawn. He was sentenced to 12 months probation.

Christopher Barry has had other encounters and arrests during his life. In 2014, he was jailed in D.C. for driving without a license.  In 2013, he was charged in Virginia with driving under the influence and possession of marijuana. In 2011, he was charged with possession of marijuana and PCP.

 WTOP’s Tiffany Arnold contributed to this report.

Abigail Constantino

Abigail Constantino started her journalism career writing for a local newspaper in Fairfax County, Virginia. She is a graduate of American University and The George Washington University.

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