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Friday, February 1, 2013

Arthur Douglas Harmon: Plaintiff in a Phoenix Lawsuit Kills His Opponent, Two Others and Himself

     Arthur Douglas Harmon lived with his wife and grown son in a north Phoenix residential neighborhood. Last April, the 70-year-old sued a Scottsdale corporation that had hired him to refurbish office cubicles at two California call centers. Harmon had been paid $30,000 of the $47,000 agreed-upon sum. The company, however, asked for the return of the $30,000 on the claim that Harmon had not performed the work. Harmon responded by suing the firm for breach of contract.

     On the morning of January 29, 2013, Harmon was present at a lawsuit settlement session before a mediator held at a law firm housed in three-story north Phoenix office complex. At ten-thirty, at the end of the mediation session, Harmon pulled a handgun and shot Steven Singer, the 48-year-old CEO of the company he had sued. (Mr. Singer was pronounced dead at a local hospital.) Harmon also shot and wounded Singer's lawyer, 43-year-old Mark P. Hummels, and Nichole Hampton. (Hummels is in critical condition, and 32-year-old Hampton, shot in the hand, is expected to recover fully.) Spent shell casings at the scene indicate that Harmon used two pistols in the attack.

     As the white-haired, 6-foot, 220 pound shooter, wearing a red shirt and blue jeans, fled the scene, he shot at a person who tried to follow him to take down the license number of his car. Harmon drove from the office complex in his white, 2013 Kia Optima.

     Later that afternoon, a SWAT unit rolled up to the Harmon residence located about five miles from the site of the mass shooting. Detectives were present to arrest Harmon and search his house. A SWAT officer using a megaphone called the fugitive out of the dwelling. Harmon's son came to the door and informed the officers that his father was not home. The son refused to let the police enter the house without a search warrant. (I'm not sure they needed one.)

     As the search warrant was being issued by a judge, police officers waited outside the Harmon residence. Once issued, police officers searched the dwelling and removed several items from the house. A short time later, Harmon's cellphone was found in the front yard of a house three miles from where he lived.

     On Thursday afternoon, on January 31, 2013, police is Mesa, Arizona spotted Harmon's white Kia parked in the lot of a Bass Pro store. Nearby, they found him dead from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. People who had known this man described him as an unfriendly loner.

     The whole idea of a legal system is to resolve disputes without resorting to violence. But in a nation with what appears to be a growing population of angry malcontents, fewer people seem willing to play by the rules. When these unhappy people don't get what they want, they kill people, and often themselves. As a result, no place is safe, and there is nothing the government can do to stop this. Any politician who says otherwise is either a liar or a fool. 

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