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Shooter killed ‘best friend’ outside Lamb's Tap

Victim was involved with Harris’ ex-wife

Published: Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014 1:15 a.m. CDT
Leonard "Frank" Harris Jr.
Frederick A. Michels

ROCK FALLS – The shooting that left one man dead and two injured outside Lamb’s Tap early Saturday stemmed, it seems, from a relationship dispute.

The tragic episode that took the life of Frederick A. Michels also led the shooter, Leonard “Frank” Harris Jr., to take his own life a short time later as police closed in on his home. In a court filing last month, Harris had referred to Michels as his “best friend.”

Rock Falls Police were called shortly after 12:30 a.m. Saturday when a 911 call reported that shots had been fired near the bar. Upon arriving, they found the body of Michels lying on the sidewalk. Harris had fled the scene.

At the time of his death, according to his obituary, Michels was involved in a relationship with Harris’ ex-wife, Brenda.

That night, police say, Brenda was at the bar with Michels.

The Harrises had only recently divorced.

“Your Honor, I loved this woman for almost 15 years,” Harris wrote in a court filing from Dec. 16. “Gave her everything. Told her she didn’t have to work, I made enough. Raised her children as my own. Only to be betrayed by her and my best friend.”

The two had one child together, a 10-year-old girl.

According to public records, Brenda and Leonard Harris were married on Nov. 23, 2002. She filed for divorce on June 11, citing “extreme and repeated mental cruelty.”

Police said Leonard Harris also shot two other men that night: Jason Chapman, 37, and David Adams, 22, both of Sterling. They suffered non-life-threatening injuries, and, Rock Falls Chief Mike Kuelper said the men were just “in the wrong place at the wrong time.”

After the shooting, Harris walked north, away from the bar, across the First Avenue bridge, and disappeared into his home in the 300 block of Sixth Avenue in Sterling.

Authorities later found his body in his garage; he apparently died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

The Harris’ divorce was granted Oct. 31. The two still were in the midst of court proceedings at the time of the shootings.

Memorial services were conducted Wednesday for both Michels and Harris.

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