The daughter of an Arizona man who was arrested for allegedly beating to death a man for trying to get into the bathroom stall she was using has spoken out in defense of her father.
Melvin Harris was held on suspicion of second-degree murder after police said he punched, stomped on and kicked Leon Armstrong, who had allegedly tried to get into a locked stall she was using at a QuikTrip convenience store in Phoenix on Aug. 3.
“Protecting me,” the unnamed 16-year-old girl said when asked about what her father allegedly did.
But she noted she regretted telling her father what happened in the convenience store.
“Now someone's dead,” the daughter told "CBS This Morning." “And now everyone's coming at me like I did something to him.”
Harris was waiting in his car as his daughter and her two friends stopped inside the convenience store, a probable cause statement said.
The teen apparently told a store employee what happened in the bathroom and then told her father, who told the security guard to “take care of the situation” before he took matters into his own hands, the probable cause statement said.
Harris allegedly confronted Armstrong after he left the store, and witnesses told police they saw the father knock him to the ground before kicking and stomping on him.
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.
“I would have done the same thing, I don't feel bad at all for his actions,” Harris’s fiancee, Diana Jackson, told KPHO-TV. “I feel bad that the man ended up dying in the process. I do.”
But Armstrong’s family said he would not have harmed anyone.
“We knew automatically that he was not going in there to do anything to those young ladies,” Armstrong’s aunt, Kathilena Johnson, told KCBS.
Armstrong reportedly was diagnosed as schizophrenic.
“He was murdered,” Armstrong’s brother, Tramall Armstrong, said. “Not by a gun, not by a knife, but by somebody's hands.”
Harris is being held on $100,000 bond. He is due to enter a plea when he is formally charged on Aug. 17.