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Arizona shooting suspect found dead in apparent suicide

By Tim Gaynor

PHOENIX (Reuters) - A man suspected in Wednesday's fatal Arizona office shooting that killed one man and critically wounded a prominent Phoenix lawyer has been found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said on Thursday.

Arthur Douglas Harmon, 70, was suspected of opening fire in an office building in central Phoenix on Wednesday following a legal mediation meeting, police said.

Phoenix police said Harmon was found dead on Thursday in the suburb of Mesa. A handgun was found nearby.

Police said Harmon shot the victims after a settlement conference involving a legal dispute, killing Steve Singer, 48, who was the chief executive of Fusion Contact Centers, a Scottsdale-based call center.

Attorney Mark Hummels - a 43-year-old litigator who is president of the Federal Bar Association's Phoenix chapter - was severely wounded in the shooting. His law firm, Osborn Maledon, said Hummels "would not survive."

Wednesday's shooting came amid raised U.S. concern about gun violence after a gunman shot and killed 20 children and six adults at a Connecticut school last month, sparking a heated national debate over gun control.

It also coincided with the start of U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearings in Washington on possible gun control measures.

News reports about the Arizona shooting said that Harmon had filed a lawsuit against the Scottsdale call center, and police said the two men shot appeared to be his intended targets.

"For whatever reason, the litigating hearing did not go as planned or in favor of Mr. Harmon, and we believe that is probably the motive in this incident," Phoenix police spokesman Tommy Thompson said.

Hummels' practice focuses on business disputes, real estate litigation and legal malpractice defense, according to the firm's website.

A third person wounded in the shooting, identified by police as a 32-year-old woman, happened to be "in the wrong place at the wrong time," Thompson said. A hospital spokeswoman identified her as Nichole Hampton, and said she had been shot in the wrist.

Phoenix mayor Greg Stanton said the incident had thrust the city "into a national spotlight on an issue of violence."

"Yesterday was a day of fear for so many families in the city and the entire valley because there was a shooter on the loose," Stanton told a news conference.

Harmon's body was found by a landscaper and reported to police shortly before 8 a.m. local time, Mesa police said.

Television news images showed Harmon's white sedan parked in the palm-studded lot of a Bass Pro store in Mesa, southeast of Phoenix. The car was ringed with crime scene tape, with police vehicles parked nearby.

(Reporting by Tim Gaynor; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Claudia Parsons)

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