A Phoenix father is being charged with second degree murder after beating the man who tried to break into the bathroom stall his teenage daughter was using to death. NBC News reports that 40-year-old Melvin Harris III admitted to beating 26-year-old Leon Armstrong after the man accosted his daughter. Harris was waiting for his daughter and her two friends in the parking lot of a QuikTrip convenience store. While he waited, Armstrong approached him for money and Harris gave him some change. Then Armstrong continued into the store.
Police say that a few minutes later Harris’ daughter and her friends came outside and said that Armstrong had been harassing them inside the store, then followed them into the bathroom. They said the man tried to break into the bathroom stall that Harris’ daughter was using by shaking the door violently. In response, Harris went inside the QuikTrip and asked the security guard on duty to take action. When nothing was done, he took the matter into his own hands.
Witnesses have reported seeing Harris confront Armstrong in the convenience store’s parking lot. According to their accounts, Harris punched, kicked and stomped Armstrong until the younger man was unconscious. Then he got into his car and drove away from the scene.
Police say Melvin Harris, 40, admitted to beating Leon Armstrong to death after he attempted to break into a bathroom stall occupied by Harris' teenage daughter. https://t.co/uQkVlluYaU
— NBC News (@NBCNews) August 15, 2018
Armstrong was found unresponsive. He was taken to the hospital where he was diagnosed with swelling of the brain and a broken nose. Originally the charges against Harris were set at aggravated assault. But when Armstrong died of his injuries, the charges were changed to second degree murder.
“It is a horrible tragedy and QT will continue to assist law enforcement with their investigation,” said Mike Thornbrugh, who is a spokesman for QuikTrip.
Harris has stated he did punch Armstrong when he confronted him in the parking lot, thinking the other man was going to punch him first. He says he does not remember hitting the man once he was down on the ground, according to reporting by WTHR.
Fox News reports that Harris’ fiancee, Diana Jackson, feels that it is unfair he is being treated like a criminal for trying to protect his child.
“I’m not mad at him. I don’t feel like he did anything wrong. I love him. He did what he was supposed to do for our kid. You cannot tell someone they’re wrong for protecting their children,” Jackson said. “I would have done the same thing. I don’t feel bad at all for his actions. I feel bad that the man ended up dying in the process. I do.”
Harris is due back in court later in the week.