A Phoenix father has been accused of beating a man to death after the victim had tried to force his way into a bathroom stall occupied by the suspect’s teenage daughter.
Melvin Harris has been jailed on $100,000 bond on suspicion of second-degree murder following the death of Leon Armstrong.
According to the Phoenix Police Department, on the night of August 2, Harris was picking up his 16-year-old daughter and her two friends from work when they asked him to stop off at the QuikTrip convenience store on 19th Avenue to buy soft drinks and use the restroom.
While he was waiting in the parking lot, Harris was approached by a man, later identified as Armstrong, who asked him for money.
Harris handed the panhandler some cash, and Armstrong went inside the store, reported ABC15.
A short time later, Harris was informed that Armstrong tried to barge into the bathroom stall in the women’s restroom that his daughter was using by shaking the door.
Harris and his daughter told store employees what had happened, and according to court documents, the father urged a security guard at the QuikTrip to ‘take care of the situation, or he would do it himself’.
The guard assured Harris that he would handle the matter.
As Harris, his daughter and her friends were leaving, the dad again spotted Armstrong, and got out of the car and confronted him.
Witnesses said the 40-year-old punched Armstrong in the face, causing him to collapse. Once he was down, the assailant allegedly proceeded to kick and stomp on him.
Harris then got back in his car and drove home, leaving the gravely injured victim moaning on the ground.
When police tracked down Harris and questioned him, the man reportedly admitted to punching Armstrong, but insisted that the man had hit him in the neck first.
Harris also claimed he did not recall striking Armstrong as he lay on the ground.
Armstrong was taken to a hospital to be treated for brain swelling and a broke nose, but he died from his injuries five days later.
Armstrong had a history of run-ins with the law related to shoplifting, trespassing and obstructing police, according to his criminal record.
Harris’ fiancee, Diana Jackson, defended her groom-to-be in an interview with 3TV/CBS5, arguing that he was merely protecting their daughter.
‘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 told the station.
Jackson went so far as to say that she would have done the same as her fiance, but she conceded that she does feel bad that Armstrong ‘ended up dying in the process.