The bird always reminded her of her grandparents who had passed away, friends and family said.
Now, her friends and family with whom she shared that personal detail, will see hummingbirds and think of her.
Barnette, who attended Pacifica High in Garden Grove and worked at Disney California Adventure, was among the 59 people killed at the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas on Sunday night, her friends, family and The Walt Disney Co. officials confirmed Monday. Barnette, who lived in Riverside, was 34.
“She was a ray of sunshine,” said Destiny Calderon, 31, who several years ago worked with Barnette at Disney California Adventure. “She always had a smile. If you had a bad day, she would lift you up.
“She was the model example of what a Disney cast member should be,” said Calderon, who now lives in Houston, Texas. Barnette was her food prep trainer. They kept in touch through Facebook and other social media platforms.
Tragedy hit home in the Magic Kingdom when friends and family found out a pair of Disneyland Resort cast members – employees – were struck by gunfire from shooter Paddock during a country music concert in Las Vegas. Another Disney worker, Jessica Milam, was injured in the shooting. She is recovering from surgery, friends relayed on facebook.
Barnette was part of the culinary team at Disney California Adventure for 10 years, Disney Chairman and CEO Robert Iger said in a statement Monday. Calderon said Barnette worked as a food prep trainer and manager overseeing the restaurants and concession stand at the theme park’s Pacific Wharf area.
“We are especially heartbroken over the loss of one of our own to this unconscionable and senseless act,” Iger said. “Our thoughts are with her family, along with our support, during this incredibly difficult time.
Disneyland President Michael Colglazier added: “We mourn the loss of our cast member, Carrie Barnette, and we offer our most heartfelt condolences to her family, fellow cast members, friends and loved ones as well as all who were affected by this senseless act.”
Barnette’s cousin, Janice Chambers, told the Arizona Republic her family waited through the night for word about her.
“We knew she had been shot,” Chambers said. “This morning a friend with her confirmed she is gone.”
Iger added, “Another valued Disney cast member, Jessica Milam, was also seriously injured and we are praying for her recovery.” Milam’s Facebook page says she is a student at Cal State Fullerton.
Joey Castillo, who is married to Barnette’s younger sister, Amy Castillo, said this has been a shock for the whole family. Barnette had just purchased a home in Riverside, a couple of miles away from her sister.
“She’s a very loving person,” Castillo said. “She always put others before herself, was a very hard worker and she loved going to her music concerts.
“She loved her nieces and nephews,” he said. “She was just a joy to have around and very caring. She was my wife’s sister and her best friend. She loved working at Disney’s California Adventure.”
He said his in-laws and wife, Amy, are “trying to keep it together, she is just still in shock. We all are.”
Calderon had spoken to Barnette about the concert on Facebook just a few hours before the shooting. Barnette was a big country music fan. Her Facebook page has pictures and music videos of country music musicians. Immediately, after learning of the shooting, Calderon messaged Barnette to check if she was OK. No response.
It was only hours later, she found out through a friend that Barnette was a victim.
“My heart sunk,” Calderon said.
Castillo said Barnette loved hummingbirds because it she saw them as a sign that her grandparents – Norma Joy and Neil Barnette – were watching over her.
Now, when they see a hummingbird, they’ll know it’s a sign of Carrie watching over their family, he said.
“She was always happy and loved her grandparents with who she’s now with up in heaven,” he said. “She will be greatly missed.”