Around 11 p.m. on Aug. 3, Melvin Harris picked up his 16-year-old daughter and her friends from work. She asked if he could swing by QuickTrip so she could get a drink and go to the bathroom.
While the 40-year-old father of six and grandfather of two waited in his car outside the Arizona gas station, a man approached him and asked for money. Harris gave him some and then saw the man enter the store after his daughter.
One of his daughter's friends saw the man — who was later identified as 26-year-old Leon Armstrong — go into the women's restroom where Harris' daughter was.
Diane Jackson, Harris' wife, said her daughter told her she was in the stall when a man entered the bathroom.
“He was shaking the stall hard and she was scared, but she just sat there quiet,” Jackson said.
The teen's friend chased the man out and told Harris what happened. When Harris told the store clerk and security guard, and the guard said it was "the third time that day something like that happened."
Harris confronted Armstrong shortly after leaving the gas station.
“When they were driving off to leave, that’s when my daughter said they saw [Armstrong] walking,” Jackson said. “He basically said, ‘hey, you went into the bathroom with my daughter, she’s 16, that’s not cool.'”
According to his daughter, Armstrong swung first and Harris swung back.
According to police, witnesses saw Harris punched Armstrong first, knocked him down and continued to punch and kick him while on the ground. The father left the scene and authorities tracked him down to his home. He denies hitting Armstrong when he was down and said the attack was self-defense.
During the assault, Armstrong lost consciousness and was diagnosed with brain injuries and had a broken nose. He succumbed to his injuries and died Aug. 7.
'He actually broke down in tears," Jackson said of Harris. He told her, "I wasn't doing anything wrong. I was just trying to protect my daughter."
Leon Armstrong, Maricopa Country Sheriff's Office
Harris was initially charged with aggravated assault resulting in serious bodily injury, but charges were later upgraded to second-degree murder. He's currently in Maricopa County jail with $100,000 bond.
His daughter, whose name is being withheld, told CBS that she believed her dad was just protecting her. She regrets telling him what happened inside the store.
"Now someone's dead. And now everyone's coming at me like I did something to him," she said, also believing that the store's security could have done more.
Harris reportedly told the guard to "take care of the situation or he would do it himself. Security told him they would handle the situation."
"Security was like, 'Oh, yeah, we don't play that. That's the third time he did that. We're gonna eff him up if you don't do it,'" the teen said.
Melvin Harris III with the daughter he defended from a predator pic.twitter.com/CpJTJgkcby
— Fukyurfeelingz (@rosado_angelica) August 27, 2018
Armstrong's aunt, Kathilena Johnson, said he suffered from schizophrenia.
"I don't think anybody can be prepared to hear that type of news that someone just was so cruel," she said. "Though he did have some mental illness, he was never a person that was considered a pedophile of any sort."
They described him in a GoFundMe page as "a kindhearted, and loving young man that is gone way too soon."
Emily Blackwood is an editor at YourTango who covers pop culture, dating, relationships and everything in between. Every Wednesday at 7:20 p.m. you can ask her any and all questions about self-love, dating, and relationships LIVE on YourTango's Facebook page.