Body of man who committed suicide could be Phoenix office shooting suspect Arthur Douglas Harmon, police say

3:31 PM, Jan 31, 2013   |    comments
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This image provided by the Phoenix Police Department shows an undated image of Arthur Douglas Harmon, 70 who authorities identified as the suspect, who they said opened fire at the end of a mediation session at a Phoenix office complex Wednesday Jan. 30, 2013.

 


 


MESA, Ariz. (USA TODAY) -- Police here found the body of a man Thursday morning who might be the suspect in a shooting Wednesday that killed one person and wounded two others at a Phoenix office complex.

The man died of what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound, Phoenix Police Sgt. Steve Martos said. The suspected shooter's vehicle, a rented Kia Optima, also was found in the area.

Police were alerted to the scene after a citizen found the body, Mesa Police Sgt. Tony Landato said.

The suspect, 70-year-old Arthur Douglas Harmon last was seen fleeing the area of the shooting in north-central Phoenix shortly after the incident took place about 10:30 a.m. MST Wednesday. Harmon fired at least one shot at a witness who gave chase from the office building where the shooting took place, causing the witness to back away.

Harmon had not been seen since.

Phoenix Police believe Harmon targeted two men and shot another bystander following a pre-litigation meeting at the broad multi-story building.

Wednesday's shooting victims were identified as:

  • Steven D. Singer, 48, chief executive officer at a call center and defendant in a lawsuit Harmon filed over furniture that Harmon's company, Reback Design, had refurbished. Singer, a husband and father of two, died from his injuries.
  • Mark Hummels, 43, a lawyer who represented Singer and serves as Phoenix chapter president of the Federal Bar Association, suffered serious neck and back wounds. He had surgery, and association colleague Andrea Marconi reported that doctors are optimistic about his recovery.
  • Nichole Hampton, 32, of Waddell, Ariz., who had gone outside to take pictures and was caught in gunfire near the building entrance. She is hospitalized with a wound to her hand.

Police said a shot was fired at a fourth victim who pursued the shooter from the scene, but the person was uninjured. Two other people also were taken from the scene to a hospital with unspecified medical issues related to the shooting.

Law enforcement throughout area responded Wednesday night and into Thursday morning to suspected sightings of Harmon, including one incident where a grocery-store employee reported seeing a vehicle matching Harmon's going through the parking lot at a high rate of speed.

The shooting occurred in the lobby of a broad, three-story building in the 7310 block of North 16th Street, just north of the Arizona Canal near Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort.

The complex houses about a dozen companies doing business in real estate, insurance, medical care and other commerce. As shots rang through the courtyard, terrified workers reported locking doors and hiding until police swarmed the area.

"I looked out the window, in the back, and there were two bodies laying on the ground," said Rob Hayter, who works for a title company in the complex. Hayter said he heard five or six shots and saw a handful of bullet casings on the ground near the victims.

The shooting occurred as Congress was conducting hearings in Washington on laws proposed to address firearm violence - particularly mass killings. Among those advocating stricter gun laws was former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., wounded two years ago in a mass shooting near Tucson, Ariz., that left six dead and 13 others injured.

Sgt. Tommy Thompson of the Phoenix Police Department said the shooter targeted the two men.

According to Thompson and other sources, Harmon, Hummels and Singer had attended a mediation proceeding Wednesday morning at the law offices of DeConcini, McDonald, Yetwin & Lacy. Lisa Anne Davis, managing partner, said one of the firm's lawyers presided over the session as a court-appointed judge pro tem.

Mark Harrison, who works with Hummels at the firm of Osborn Maledon, said he was told the session was interrupted when Harmon announced he needed to go outside to his car.

When Harmon failed to return after a prolonged wait, Hummels, Singer and others assumed he was not coming back. They headed downstairs, and as they were leaving they were shot.

Photographs show shattered glass sprayed across the building's courtyard.

Hampton, who was shot in the hand, is director of human resources at MD Home Health LLC, another business in the complex. In a phone interview from the hospital, Carol Hampton said her daughter got caught in the shooting frenzy.

"She was at the wrong place at the wrong time," Carol Hampton said.

Carol Hampton said Nichole Hampton was outside the building taking pictures for business purposes.

"She started walking to the lobby, and she saw four men come running out, saying, 'He's got a gun.' "

At that instant, Carol Hampton said, her daughter heard a shot and saw a window shatter. Nichole Hampton, initially unaware that she had been wounded, ran into the nearby office of a business known as Time to Rent.

Carol Hampton said an employee locked the door behind her.

"He was very nice," she said. "He took off his shirt and wrapped her hand up."

Carol Hampton said her daughter and others looked out a window to see the shooter's white vehicle screech out of the parking lot with its trunk open.

Carol Hampton said her daughter, who is married with two young children, was struck in the wrist, and two bones were broken.

"She has two metal plates and pins in her hand. She's pretty shook up," Carol Hampton said. "But someone died in this, so we feel very lucky."

Police flooded the area, evacuating nearby offices and searching for a shooter while rescue crews tended to the wounded. Employees looked on, talking quietly among themselves, some crying.

According to court records, Singer had hired Harmon's firm almost a year ago to refurbish and move office furniture at the Santa Maria, Calif., offices of his call center, Fusion Contact Center LLC.

The contract was for $47,000, but a dispute erupted because not all of the work could be completed. The parties traded lengthy emails. In April, after receiving $30,000, court records say, Harmon filed suit.

As the legal case dragged on, court records say Harmon engaged in financial transactions with a son, Stefan Harmon. Legal filings allege that Arthur Harmon sold his home, valued at $100,000, to the son for $26,000, then borrowed $180,000 from another party using the home he no longer owned as collateral. The filings say that money was then loaned to Stefan Harmon.

Fusion countersued, alleging that Arthur Harmon, who had no legal counsel, was overpaid and fraudulently transferred property in connection with the litigation. The company sought a payment of $20,184 from Harmon to end the case. Harmon testified his savings totaled $17.

Mediation proceedings were set up to address continuing issues in the case.

After Wednesday's shooting, police went to the Harmon residence about 7 miles north. Sgt. Steve Martos said a son refused to allow officers to enter until they obtained a search warrant. Once they did enter, they found no one there.

Police found an item that Harmon discarded, apparently after the shooting not far from his house. Police would not confirm whether the item was a cellphone.


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