An Arizona father was arrested for allegedly beating to death a man he believed tried to get into a bathroom stall his daughter was using, police said.
Melvin Harris, 40, was waiting in his car when his 16-year-old daughter and her two friends told him that a man had tried entering the bathroom stall the teen was using in a QuikTrip convenience store in Phoenix Aug. 3, according to a probable cause statement.
Harris’s daughter said she told an employee, who told the on-duty security guard, and pointed out the man as he exited the store, authorities said.
Harris had apparently given the man, identified by officials as Leon Leevon Armstrong, change while waiting for his daughter and her friends to come out of the store, the statement said.
Police said Harris said he told the security guard he needed to take care of the situation or he would do it himself, and Harris got back into his car and pulled over to an area where Armstrong was standing.
Harris allegedly punched the man in the face and repeatedly stomped, punched and kicked him, witnesses told police.
Armstrong, who fell to the ground, was reportedly found “snoring” and “moaning,” the probable cause statement said.
Armstrong was rushed to a nearby hospital, where he later died.
He had suffered brain swelling, a nasal fracture and loss of oxygen to the brain, officials said.
Harris allegedly fled the scene and was later arrested at his home.
He admitted he struck Armstrong in the face but claimed he only punched him after being swung at first, the probable cause statement said. Harris denied hitting Armstrong when he was on the ground, according to police.
Harris was charged with second-degree murder and was being held on $100,000 bond.
His fiancee, Diana Jackson, spoke out in defense of Harris, telling KPHO-TV: “He did what he was supposed to do for our kid. You cannot tell someone they're wrong for protecting their children.
“But now he's a criminal for protecting his child?” she continued. “That's not fair. It's not.”