US police search for 'armed and dangerous' office gunman

Police launched a manhunt for an “armed and dangerous” pensioner suspected of carrying out an office shooting in Arizona that left one man dead and two wounded.

Police said the suspect was Arthur Harmon, 70.

Steve Singer, 48, the chief executive of Fusion Contract Centres, died late last night and police said a 43-year-old man was in a critical condition, along with a 32-year-old woman.

Police did not release the names of the wounded, but a Phoenix law firm said one of their lawyers Mark Hummels, who was representing a client in mediation, was one of them.

Workers locked office doors and hid far from the windows as the gunfire erupted yesterday morning, local time.

As police searched for the gunman, SWAT teams and two armoured vehicles surrounded his house about seven miles from the shooting scene in Phoenix. Police served a search warrant to enter the home.

For a time, officers, believing the man was inside, used a megaphone to tell him to surrender.

America’s latest public shooting came on the same day the US Congress took up the issue of gun control for the first time since the Connecticut school shooting in December left 20 young children dead and changed the national conversation on guns.

Former Arizona congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot in the head during a 2011 gun rampage in Tucson that left six people dead, appeared in Washington to urge stricter gun controls.

The gunman arrived at the office building at about 10.30am and got into a dispute with someone, a conflict that escalated to the point where he drew a gun and shot three people, Sgt Tommy Thompson said.

“Everyone was just scared, honestly, just scared,” said Navika Sood, assistant director of nursing at First at Home Health Services who, along with her co-workers, locked the entrances to their office.

Ms Sood said police evacuated the office about 30 minutes after she first heard the popping noises.

Vannessa Brogan, who works in sales support at an insurance business in the three-storey complex, said she heard a loud bang that she at first thought was from somebody working in or near the building.

She said people locked themselves in offices until authorities evacuated the complex that houses insurance, medical and law offices.

Watching from her second-storey office, Becky Neher, who works for a title company in the building, saw people leaving the building.

“Someone yelled, ’We have a shooter’,” she said. She saw two victims lying on the ground outside the rear of the building. She said health care workers who had offices in the complex came out to help.

Don Jaksa, a software consultant who works in the building, said he was listening to the radio when he suddenly heard “two pops”.

He said he did not think they were gunshots, but “my co-worker goes to the range all the time. He identified it as gunfire”.

His colleague then locked the door. After five minutes they left and ran into police and someone carrying a stretcher. Officers escorted them back to their office and told them to lock the door again.

Workers were later allowed to leave the building.

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