Former state lawmaker Gus Barreiro, an enigmatic Miami-Dade County Republican who made a career crusading for at-risk youth, died of a heart attacked Friday. He was 60.
“It saddens me to announce the untimely death of my brother Gustavo A. Barreiro,” his brother Bruno Barreiro said in a Facebook post Friday morning.
“Gus suffered a sudden heart attack this morning. Our entire family is in disbelief and heartbroken with his sudden departure. We are in the process of making service arrangements and I will make them available once we have them. Thank you to everyone who has reached out.” Barreiro, a Cuban-born immigrant who grew up in Miami, served in the state House from 1998 to 2006.
Miami-Dade County Commissioner Esteban Bovo, a former state House member, was among the many South Florida elected officials and youth advocates who shared condolences about Barreiro’s passing on social media.
“Gus’ work at the @childrenstrust made a significant impact on the lives of many children & families in #OurCounty,” Bovo tweeted.
Barreiro worked as the public policy and community engagement liaison for the Miami-based The Children’s Trust since 2015. The Trust called Barreiro a “lifelong advocate for South Florida” in a Facebook posting announcing his death.
Miami-Dade Commissioner Daniella Levine Cava added on Twitter that Barreiro “dedicated his life to public service, especially juvenile justice reform & defending our most vulnerable youth. Thanks for all you did for our community; you will be missed.”
Barreiro may best be known for his clashes with the Department of Juvenile Justice, leading the charge to investigate the 2006 death of 14-year-old Martin Lee Anderson, who died after being beaten by guards at the now-closed Bay County Boot Camp.
Barreiro headed the House Juvenile Justice Appropriations Committee. He would later serve as a liaison between the government and the “White House Boys,” a group of men that claimed to have been abused while at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys in Marianna. The school closed in 2011 after 111 years of operation.