Shooting at Phoenix office complex kills one, injures several

January 30, 2013

Police are looking for the man -- identified as Arthur D. Harmon -- who allegedly shot three people in a north Central Phoenix office complex Wednesday morning, killing one and injuring several. 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. 

shooting suspect A Phoenix police officer holds up a photo of the suspect in Wednesday's shooting. (Photo by Peter O'Dowd - KJZZ)

16th Street just north of Glendale is shut down in both directions. SWAT crews were combing the three-story office building, but no so far there is no one in custody.  Phoenix police sergeant Thommy Thompson said three people were shot. 

Later this afternoon Phoenix police identified the person killed as Steve Singer. The law office of Osborn Maledon identified one of its partners, Mark Hummels, as one of those who had been shot. A 32-year-old woman was also shot, and two more people were not shot but treated.

Harmon was representing himself in a civil court action he brought against Fusion Contact Center, LLC, which is owned by Singer. The Arizona Corporation Commission filing for the business shows Osborn Maledon listed as the statutory agent for the company.

According to court documents, Harmon was scheduled to go to a law office in the same building where the shooting took place for a settlement conference in a lawsuit he filed last April against Scottsdale-based Fusion Contact Centers LLC.

The company had hired him to refurbish office cubicles at two call centers in California, but a contract dispute arose.

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.

“What we do believe occurred is at about 10:30 this morning, there was an individual who came to this location, [and] got into an altercation with someone which erupted into gunfire,” Thompson said.

Thompson said a witness followed Harmon after the suspect drove away from the scene, and Harmon got out and fired shots on the vehicle following him, No injuries have been reported from that altercation.

Madison No. 1 Middle School, Madison Park Middle School, and the Madison Elementary School District office were on lockdown early Wednesday afternoon, but that restriction has since been lifted.

As police searched for the shooter, SWAT teams and two armored vehicles surrounded his house about 7 miles from the shooting scene. Police served a search warrant to enter the home.

For a time, officers, believing the shooter was inside, used a megaphone to ask him to surrender.

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.

The shooting took place on the same day that hearings on legislation to address gun violence were convened in Washington, with former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords testifying for stricter gun controls.

SWAT team The Arizona Department of Public Safety SWAT team was on the scene at the office building shooting Wednesday. (Photo by Peter O'Dowd - KJZZ)

A gunman shot Giffords in the head during a shooting rampage in Tucson in January 2011.

Around 10:30 a.m., the gunman arrived at the office building and got into a dispute with someone, a conflict that escalated to the point where he drew a gun and shot three people, Thompson said.

Vanessa Brogan, who works in sales support at an insurance business in the three-story complex, said she heard a loud bang that she thought at first was from somebody working in or near the building.

She said others at the business thought they heard multiple loud noises. She said people locked themselves in offices until authorities evacuated the complex that houses insurance, medical and law offices.

Becky Neher, who works for a title company in the building, said the two gunshots she heard sounded like two pieces of metal banging against each other.

Watching from her second-story office, she saw people leaving the building.

"Someone yelled, 'We have a shooter,'" she said. She saw two victims lying on the ground outside the back side of the building. She said health care workers who have offices in the complex came out to help.

Don Jaksa, a software consultant who works in the building, said he was listening to the radio when he suddenly heard "two pops." He said he didn't think they were gunshots.

"My co-worker goes to the range all the time," he said. "He identified it as gunfire."

His co-worker then locked the door. After five minutes, they left and ran into police and someone carrying a stretcher. The police escorted them back to their office and told them to lock the door again.

They were eventually evacuated, and as he sat on a rock outside the complex, his wife called to make sure he was OK after seeing the shooting on the news.

Workers were later allowed to leave the building. Two hugged each other when they got outside.

"You don't expect this when you come to work," worker Lindsa Rincon said.


The Associated Press contributed to this report. Updated 1-30-2013 11:20 p.m.