Melvin Harris III is an Arizona father who beat a man to death after the man tried to enter Harris’s daughter’s bathroom stall at a Phoenix convenience store, officials say.
26-year-old Leon Armstrong, the man accused of trying to enter Harris’s daughter’s stall, suffered a broken nose and a severe brain injury after the beating. Police say he eventually succumbed to his injuries and died.
Harris is now being charged with second-degree murder for the beating. Here’s what you need to know.
1. Harris Brought His Daughter & Her Two Friends to the QT Convenience Store in Phoenix Just Before Midnight on August 2
According to court records as revealed by AZ Central, 40-year-old Harris brought his teenage daughter and her two friends to a convenience store around midnight on August 2.
While Harris waited outside, a man asked him for change. Harris gave him some change and the man then walked into the store. This man was later identified as Leon Armstrong, the man who would try to get into Harris’s daughter’s stall.
2. Harris’s Daughter Told Him a Man Had Tried to Enter Her Stall While She Was in it
After Harris’s daughter and her friends left the convenience store, they reportedly told Harris that Armstrong had tried to get inside of Harris’s daughter’s closed and locked stall which was in the women’s restroom.
It’s unclear whether Armstrong was trying to get to Harris’s daughter, or whether he was confused– but either way, Harris reportedly went into the QT and told a security guard they needed to “take care of it.”
3. Harris Followed Armstrong to a ‘Gravel’ Area & Beat Him Repeatedly
Even though Harris asked a security guard for QT to “take care” of the situation with Armstrong, he proceeded to follow Armstrong himself in a gravel area. It’s not clear whether Harris’s daughter and her friends were with him at the time.
Harris reportedly proceeded to punch Armstrong in the face, knocking him down and continuing to beat him. The court records say that Armstrong was “moaning” on the ground, and Harris continued to kick and beat him. Then Harris drove away.
4. Harris Claimed Armstrong Swung at Him First
When police finally tracked Harris down at his residence and arrested him, police say Harris maintained that he only punched Armstrong after Armstrong had swung at him first.
Harris told police that Armstrong had curled up into a ball after he fell to the ground, and he maintained that he didn’t hit him once he fell to the ground.
5. Harris Is Now Being Charged With Second Degree Murder
Harris is now being charged for second degree murder. Of his charges, Harris’s fiancé, Diana Jackson, said via Fox News, “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. 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.”
She added that it was unfair Harris was being treated like a criminal for simply protecting his child.
Twitter users have since run to Harris’s defense, calling for a GoFundMe account creation to donate to his defense fund. There has not yet been one created.