Phoenix police: Body found that matches office complex shooter
A landscaper found a body that matches the suspect in the office shooting that killed 1, critically injured another
By Jacques Billeaud
PHOENIX — A landscaper in the Phoenix suburb of Mesa found a body in bushes early Thursday that matches the suspect in an office shooting that killed a man and critically wounded another, police said.
The rented Kia Optima sedan that Arthur Douglas Harmon, 70, was likely driving was also found nearby in a parking lot, authorities said at a news conference. The person who was found died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound and a handgun was also found, police said.
Harmon drew a gun and shot both men at the end of a mediation session Wednesday morning at an office building in north-central Phoenix, police said.
Steve Singer, 48, died hours later. Mark Hummels, 43, with the Phoenix law firm Osborn Maledon, was in critical condition. A 32-year-old woman was also shot but suffered non-life threatening injuries.
"We believe the two men were the targets. It was not a random shooting," said Sgt. Tommy Thompson, a Phoenix police spokesman.
Harmon also shot at someone who tried to follow him to get his license plate number, authorities said.
"As he left the scene, an individual witness got in his own car and actually followed Harmon in his Optima, and he drove into a neighborhood and Harmon actually got out of his car and shot at that witness," Thompson said.
Singer was the CEO of Scottsdale-based Fusion Contact Centers LLC, which had hired Harmon to refurbish office cubicles at two call centers in California.
According to court documents, Harmon was scheduled to go to a law office in the building where the shooting took place for a settlement conference in a lawsuit he filed last April against Fusion.
Fusion said Harmon was paid nearly $30,000 under the $47,000 contract. But the company asked him to repay much of the money when it discovered that the cubicles could not be refurbished, according to the documents.
Harmon argued Fusion hung him out to dry by telling him to remove and store 206 "worthless" work stations after the mix-up was discovered. Harmon said Fusion then told him that the company decided to use a competitor.
Harmon's lawsuit had sought payment for the remainder of the contract, $20,000 in damages and reimbursement for storage fees and legal costs.
Hummels represented Fusion in the lawsuit. Harmon represented himself.
The shooting took place in the building where Pro tempore Judge Ira Schwartz, who scheduled the mediation meeting, has an office.
The response to the shooting centered on the building _ home to insurance, medical and law offices _ but soon spread to a north-Phoenix home and a central-Phoenix high-rise office building where Hummels' office is located.
SWAT teams and two armored vehicles surrounded the house. Police served a search warrant to enter the house, which county property records show was sold by Harmon to his son last year for $26,000.
For a time, officers used a megaphone to ask Harmon to surrender, believing he might be inside the home.
Lois Allen, who has lived across the street from the Harmon home for about eight years, said she was startled to see all the police cars in the neighborhood.
She said she never met Harmon but had seen him walking a dog before.
The gunfire at the office complex prompted terrified workers to lock the doors to their offices and hide far from the windows. SWAT officers searched the building.
"Everyone was just scared, honestly, just scared," said Navika Sood, assistant director of nursing at First at Home Health Services who along with her co-workers locked the entrances to their office.
Sood said police evacuated the office about 30 minutes after she first heard the popping noises.
Becky Neher, who works for a title company in the building, said she heard two gunshots.
"Someone yelled, `We have a shooter,'" Neher said. She looked out her second-story office and saw two people lying on the ground outside the back of the building.
The shooting took place on the same day that hearings on legislation to address gun violence were convened in Washington, with former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords testifying for stricter gun controls. A gunman shot Giffords in the head during a shooting rampage in Tucson in January 2011.
Copyright 2013 Associated Press