Body of suspected workplace shooter found; wounded lawyer dies

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by Catherine Holland and Natalie Brand

Video report by Christine LaCroix, Kristine Harrington, and Steve Bodinet

Posted on January 31, 2013 at 9:10 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 30 at 5:06 AM

Map: Near Dobson & Loop 202

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MESA, Ariz. -- Police say the body of suspected workplace shooter Arthur Harmon was found near Bass Pro Shops in Mesa Thursday morning.

"Mesa Police have informed us they have located the suspect vehicle involved in yesterday's incident (Kia Optima)," Sgt. Steve Martos of the Phoenix Police Department wrote in an email to media outlets. "In addition, they have located an individual matching the suspect description nearby with what appears to be a self inflicted gunshot wound."

According to Sgt. Tony Landato of the Mesa Police Department, a landscaper discovered the body shortly before 8 a.m. Because the body matched the description of Harmon, officers fanned out and found the Kia Optima Harmon was last seen driving.

Aerial video from the scene showed the car's license plate to be AVS2052. That is the license plate of the Optima for which police had been searching since the shooting.

At his point, nobody knows where Harmon went when he fled the shooting scene, but police received a 911 call from somebody claiming to have spotted the car at Broadway and Ellsworth roads overnight. That's about 10 miles from where Harmon's car and body were found hours later.

Investigators are trying to determine where he was between the shooting and his apparent suicide. All they know for certain right now is that he did not go home.

Another thing detectives do not know is why Harmon drove to Bass Pro Shops near Dobson Road and Loop 202.

Officers on the scene taped off the areas surrounding the car and the body. The body was found in some bushes just south of where the car was parked.

Phoenix police Sgt. Steve Martos confirmed that it was Harmon in a tweet posted at 10:14 a.m.

Sgt. Tommy Thompson, also of the Phoenix Police Department, issued another confirmation via email just after 12:30 p.m.

Landato said investigators found a weapon -- a Springfield 1911 .45-caliber pistol -- next to the body.

Mesa police told 3TV's Kristine Harrington that they found a loaded old-style Ruger .22-caliber pistol and a loaded 1970's vintage Colt AR-15, as well as ammunition in the Optima. In addition, there were clothes in the trunk.

Detectives do not yet know what time Harmon parked his rented Optima near the Bass Pro Shops nor do they know what time he died.

During a short news conference Thursday morning, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton said he hoped people could be more at ease now that there is no longer a shooter on the loose.

"I'm hopeful that when final identification is made that families in this community can have their minds at rest, be at peace and know that they are once again safe," he said, thanking the Mesa Police Department for its help as Phoenix investigators continue to piece together events leading up to and following the shooting.

While Mesa detectives are handing the body at this point, Phoenix police have taken over the investigation involving the Optima because it is already connected to their shooting case.

Triple shooting: Former co-worker described suspect as 'a little bit hostile'

Police believe Harmon shot and killed one person and wounded two others, one of whom is not expected to survive, after a mediation meeting at an office complex at 16th Street and Glendale Avenue at about 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.

An unidentified person followed Harmon as he fled the scene, giving up only when Harmon opened fire at him. That person was able to give police valuable information about Harmon's vehicle.

Detectives said Harmon, 70, specifically targeted two of the victims and that the shooting was connected to a lawsuit filed by Harmon.

Police raided Harmon's North Phoenix home Wednesday afternoon. After removing several items from the house, they later cleared that scene. Investigators did not elaborate on what evidence was collected.

A man who worked with Harmon at one time, but did not want to be identified, spoke out in the wake of the shooting, saying he had his concerns.

"He has exhibited behavior in the past that would seem to be a little bit hostile and erratic," the man said. "I think that those should have been a little bit more of a warning sign."

While searching for Harmon, police pointed out that he had a military background and was to be considered armed and dangerous.

Possible motive

Piles of court documents and letters exchanged between Harmon and attorney Mark Hummels shed light on possible motive.

Police confirm litigation Wednesday did not go as Harmon expected, or in his favor, prior to the shooting which occurred following a settlement conference.

According to court documents, the litigation involved a payment dispute of around $20,000 between Harmon and Fusion Contact Centers and its CEO Steve Singer.  Singer hired Harmon to refurbish his office, but the deal apparently went sour.  Harmon filed a lawsuit last year; Fusion counter-sued and also claimed Harmon fraudulently transferred property.

Legal documents filed allege Harmon sold his home valued at around $100,000 to his son for $26,000.

3TV also obtained a series of letters sent back and forth between Harmon and Hummels surrounding the legal proceedings. Harmon, who was representing himself in the suit, claimed “harassing and terrorizing phone calls,” as well as “harassing or intimidating emails.”

Hummels firmly denied the claims in his responses, saying he merely sought to communicate with Harmon as necessary for the litigation.

However, Harmon filed a complaint against Hummels with the State Bar of Arizona, which was dismissed because of the pending litigation.

3TV reached out to Harmon’s family for comment, but they declined to comment.  A sign on the door of their North Phoenix home asks to please respect their privacy.

The victims -- 2 dead, 1 wounded

One of the shooting victims, identified as Steve Singer, 48, died from his injuries within hours. He is the CEO of a global company headquartered in Scottsdale called Fusion Contact Centers. That is the company Harmon sued over a $20,000 payment dispute.

The second victim, a 43-year-old man, was listed in critical condition after the shooting. Police did not identify that victim, but the Osborn Maledon law firm said he is attorney Mark P. Hummels.

On Thursday, Osborn Maledon issued a news release stating that Hummels, who is married and has two children, would not survive. He died Thursday night.

"Our friend and partner, Mark Hummels, was severely injured in yesterday’s senseless shooting," the statement read. "We have been informed that Mark will not survive from the shooting. We are devastated at this news about our beloved friend. ... Mark is what all of us aspire to be on our best days."
(Read entire statement)

Osborn Maledon represented Singer and Fusion Contact Centers.

"The loss of Mark and Steve in any circumstances would be a tragedy," Thursday's statement read. "For this to happen to them, while participating in mediation, is beyond understanding, a terrible loss for us all."

The third victim, Nichole Hampton (right), 32, suffered non life-threatening injuries and could be released from the hospital some time Thursday. Police believe Hampton, who was outside taking pictures when bullets started flying, was an unintended victim.

There are reports that two additional people were transported to the hospital for non gunshot-related reasons.

Jennifer Thomas contributed to this story.

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