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Gunman was custodian at RFHS

Sterling mayor: ‘I just wish there was some kind of call for help’

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 7, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT
Caption
Leonard "Frank" Harris Jr.

ROCK FALLS – Sterling Mayor Skip Lee found it hard to believe that Leonard “Frank” Harris Jr. had shot three people outside Lamb’s Tap early Saturday.

“My reaction was, ‘Holy cow, what happened?’” Lee said. “He was never the kind of individual who I thought was capable of that kind of thing. But something in his life obviously went really bad to cause this to happen.”

Harris, 40, of Sterling killed one man and injured two others outside the Rock Falls tavern before he fled to the garage at his Sterling home, where he killed himself.

He was a custodian at Rock Falls High School, where Lee used to teach chemistry, which is how they knew each other.

“I feel horribly for the family of the shooting victims,” Lee said Monday. “I can’t even imagine what it would be like to have something like that happen to someone in your family.”

The mayor said Harris was “an easygoing, smiley kind of guy.” After Lee was elected mayor, Harris stopped by his office with a couple of concerns.

“He was a very personable kind of kid,” Lee said. “He never seemed to have a thing that bothered him. I just wish there was some kind of call for help that we could’ve heard from him.”

For 15 years, Harris also was a janitorial and warehouse worker for the city of Rock Falls’ electric department, Rock Falls Mayor Bill Wescott said.

At 12:41 a.m. Saturday, Rock Falls Police responded to a call from Lamb’s Tap about shots fired. Police found Frederick A. Michels, 34, of Sterling, dead on the sidewalk in front of the bar. Michels had been shot multiple times.

Two other Sterling men, Jason Chapman, 37, and David Adams, 22, also had been shot and were found on the sidewalk. Both were taken to CGH Medical Center. Adams was released, but Chapman was taken to OSF St. Anthony Medical Center in Rockford, where he was in fair condition Monday.

Harris fled the scene and, police say, walked north across the First Avenue bridge into Sterling before he entered his house in the 300 block of Sixth Avenue. Shortly after that, police heard a gunshot.

Whiteside County Tactical Response team members then entered the house, where they found Harris dead in his garage from what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Rock Falls Police Chief Mike Kuelper said Monday that his agency would not release more information until all interviews were completed, which won’t be for another couple of days. He would not speculate on a motive for the shootings.

 

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