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Former U.S. Olympic equestrian coach charged with attempted murder

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MORRISTOWN, N.J. (AP) — A history of disputes between a former Olympic equestrian coach and two people who rented from him at a farm where he trains riders apparently turned violent this week, leaving a woman with life-threatening gunshot wounds.

Prosecutors in Morris County on Thursday charged Michael Barisone, 54, with two counts of attempted murder and weapons offenses.

According to a criminal complaint, a woman called 911 Wednesday afternoon and said Barisone had shot her twice.

Police arrived to find the woman bleeding on the ground with wounds to her chest, and another man lying on top of Barisone. Barisone had fired at the man as well but had missed, according to the complaint, and the man had subdued him until police arrived.

The woman’s injuries were described as serious and life-threatening.

Authorities have not released their names. According to the complaint, they lived at the farm, and there had been multiple recent calls to police from the residence because of what it described as “landlord-tenant related issues.”

Before he was removed from the scene, Barisone was overheard repeating the phrase, “I had a good life,” according to the complaint.

Barisone was an alternate for the 2008 U.S. Olympic dressage team and coached the 2012 U.S. Olympic eventing team.

It was not immediately possible to reach Barisone, whose voice mailbox was full.

The Morris County prosecutor’s office didn’t have a record of an attorney listed for Barisone on Friday, and an initial court appearance hadn’t yet been scheduled.

George Morris, Olympic equestrian medalist, coach, banned for life

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George Morris, a 1960 Olympic show jumping medalist and longtime equestrian coach and trainer, was suspended for life for a violation of sexual misconduct involving a minor, which Morris denied.

U.S. Equestrian and the U.S. Center for SafeSport published the ban, which can be appealed, on Monday. They listed no further details.

“I am deeply troubled by the U.S. Center for SafeSport’s findings regarding unsubstantiated charges for events that allegedly occurred between 1968 and 1972,” Morris, 81, said in a statement first reported by The New York Times and later confirmed by a Morris contact. “I contest these findings wholeheartedly and am in the process of disputing them. I have devoted my life to equestrian sport and the development of future riders, coaches and Olympians. Any allegations that suggest I have acted in ways that are harmful to any individual, the broader equestrian community, and sport that I love dearly are false and hurtful.”

Morris earned team show jumping silver at the 1960 Rome Games as its youngest member. He also took fourth individually. He later coached U.S. Olympic and Brazilian teams and wrote equestrian books.

1984 Olympic gold medalist retires

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Mark Todd, a seven-time Olympic equestrian who earned his first gold medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, announced his retirement from eventing at age 63 to focus on horse racing.

“I had been thinking about it for some time,” Todd said, according to New Zealand’s equestrian federation. “The opportunity came up at the end of last year with the racing, and I can’t keep going (with eventing) forever. I had initially thought I may stay on for one more Olympic Games, but since I got back into the racing my attention has been taken away from the eventing, and I was finding it harder and harder to focus on the eventing.”

Todd, the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) “Rider of the 20th Century,” earned a New Zealand record six Olympic medals, including individual eventing gold in 1984 and 1988 aboard Charisma. Todd later wrote a 112-page book about Charisma, after he sold his dairy farm to get to the 1984 Los Angeles Games.

Todd previously retired for eight years between competing at the 2000 and 2008 Olympics.

“There will be no comeback this time,” he said.

NBC Olympic Research contributed to this report.

MORE: Most experienced Olympian in history retires at 72

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