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30 Jan, 2013 19:04

One dead in Arizona mass shooting, suspect at large

One dead in Arizona mass shooting, suspect at large

Police confirmed that at least three people were injured in the latest mass shooting in the US. One victim died of gunshot wounds, while two remain in severe condition; the suspect is armed and has not been apprehended by police.

­The suspect, identified as 70-year-old Arthur D. Harmon, remains at large and was described by police as "armed and dangerous."

The shooting occurred around 10:30am local time (12:30pm EST) at an office building in Phoenix, Arizona. Harmon, a white male, was seen fleeing the scene in a white SUV. He reportedly fired at a witness while escaping, but missed.

The building was evacuated and the victims were hospitalized while police searched the area for any other victims.

One of the victims, 48-year-old Steve Singer, the CEO of Fusion Contract Centers Inc., died in hospital. Police did not release the names of the other victims, who have been identified as a 43-year-old man and a 32-year-old woman.

According to police, the two men wounded in the shooting may have been the gunman's intended targets, while the woman is believed to have been a bystander.

Harmon is apparently the only suspect in the shooting. He reportedly got into a heated argument with an unidentified man before the incident, police said.

"He was involved in some type of litigation meeting," Phoenix Police Sergeant Tommy Thompson said. "After that meeting, he got into an altercation with some of the individuals and actually shot two of those individuals."

SWAT teams were sent to Harmon’s residence, but were unable to locate him.

­A witness in a neighboring office building told USA Today that there were at least 50 police cars, seven or eight fire trucks, and K-9 units at the scene of the shooting. The witness said he saw at least four people being taken out on stretchers.

Employees working in various areas of the building complex at which the shooting took place described hearing a number of gunshots and locked themselves into their offices. Vannessa Brogan, an employee working in the sales support department of an insurance business in the complex, described hearing a loud bang. Others in her office admitted hearing multiple loud noises, prompting employees to lock themselves in their offices until police evacuated the building.

“It was a little tense. Everybody came and hid in the IT room,” said Rob Hayter, an employee at Pioneer Title Agency.

­The office complex at which the shooting took place includes medical, law and insurance offices. After two victims were found lying on the ground on the back side of the building, personnel from the medical offices came out to help while waiting for the ambulances to show up.

The streets near the scene of the shooting remain heavily congested with traffic, as police have cordoned off a major intersection.

Authorities have also converged on a home near 28th Street and Greenway Road, which is about seven miles away from the office building in the 730 block of 16th street near Glendale Avenue. Police think the suspect might live in the house, but believe he is not currently there.

This most recent mass shooting occurred shortly after former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) spoke at a Senate hearing on gun control, urging the Senate Judiciary Committee to act courageously to curb gun violence in the US. Giffords was shot in the head in Jan. 2011 in a reported assassination attempt near Tucson, Arizona. The former congresswoman was critically injured and lost much of her ability to walk, speak, read and write.

Speaking slowly due to her impaired speech, Giffords urged Congress to work towards reducing gun violence.

“We must do something,” she said, looking up at the senators before her. “It will be hard. But the time is now. You must act. Be bold. Be courageous. Americans are counting on you.”

Later during the hearing, retired Navy captain and Giffords’ husband Mark Kelly said that while the session was underway, there had been another shooting in Arizona “with multiple victims”. Details about the shootings remained largely unknown, but he urged Congress to work towards tougher background checks, among other measures, to prevent “many of these murders and mass shootings in this country.”