1 Dead, 2 Hospitalized In Arizona Office Shooting

2:53 PM, Jan 30, 2013   |    comments
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Phoenix, AZ -- One of three people shot Wednesday morning at a north-central Phoenix office building is dead, officials said, and police continue to search for the gunman.

About 7 miles away, Phoenix police have surrounded a home that may be linked to the suspect, Phoenix Police Sgt. Steve Martos said. Officers have begun communicating through loudspeakers with anyone inside.

Mark Hummels, a partner with Osborn Maledon and president of the Phoenix chapter of the Federal Bar Association, had surgery Wednesday afternoon and is among the survivors, according to an e-mail from Andrea Marconi, a lawyer with Fennemore Craig and president-elect of the Federal Bar Association.

"The latest information I have is that Mark has a strong pulse after surgery and the doctors are optimistic about his recovery, so this is encouraging news," she wrote in the e-mail to members of the Phoenix legal community and obtained by The Arizona Republic.

The lawyer in his 30s was shot in his neck and lower back, said Phoenix lawyer Colin Campbell, who also is a friend.

A third shooting victim has less severe injuries and is expected to survive, said Sgt. Tommy Thompson of the Phoenix Police Department. Three others also were transported to area hospitals, but the nature of their injuries was not detailed.

Officials have not released the name of the suspect, a white male who is still at large, and say his motive is unclear.

"This doesn't appear to be a random type of incident," Thompson said. At about 10:30 a.m. MST, the gunman arrived at the office building and got into a dispute that escalated to the point where he drew a gun.

The shooting took place on the same day that Congress convened hearings in Washington on legislation to address gun violence. Former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., who was severely wounded along with 18 others two years ago outside a supermarket in suburban Tucson, Ariz., was among those testifying. Six died in that shooting.

A few hours after Wednesday's incident, a SWAT team surrounded a house 7 miles from the shooting scene that police say is connected to the shooting. Officers were talking to someone at the house who was not the suspect, Phoenix Police Sgt. Steve Martos said.

Witnesses who worked in the three-story office complex in the 7310 block of 16th Street where the shooting occurred characterized the office building as usually very quiet.

"I heard the shots and that's it," said Karen Frasier, a receptionist at Stearns Lending in the same complex. "I wouldn't know a gunshot if it jumped up and bit me because I'd never heard one. But some other people heard them and said that's what they were."

The gunfire prompted terrified workers throughout the complex that houses 10 to 15 businesses including insurance, health care and law offices, to lock their doors and hide far from windows. SWAT team officers searched the building.

"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.

Becky Neher, who works for a title company in the building, said the two gunshots she heard sounded like two pieces of metal banging against each other.

"Someone yelled, 'We have a shooter,'" she said. She saw two victims lying on the ground outside the back side of the building.

Rob Hayter, who works at Pioneer Title Agency, said he heard five or six shots before calling 911, looked out his office window and saw two bodies lying on the ground.

"It was a little tense. Everybody came and hid in the IT room," Hayter said.

A spokeswoman for the Albuquerque-based owner of the building, Louis Abruzzo of Alvardao Realty, said the shooting happened in the lobby. The 92,000-square-foot, three-story office building is more than 85% leased.

Abruzzo paid $10.2 million in cash for the office building in December 2011.

According to Larry Ruch, who operates out of a law office across the street, 50 police cars, seven to eight fire trucks and K-9 units converged at the location. It appeared to him that four people were taken out on stretchers; scores of onlookers took to balconies of nearby buildings to watch the scene unfold.

The area, just north of the Arizona Canal is dotted by small office complexes on both sides of the six-lane street.

In Washington, former astronaut Mark Kelly, Giffords' husband, told the Senate panel about the Wednesday shooting during his time at the microphone: "There is another what seems to be possibly a shooting with multiple victims ... with multiple shots fired."

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