Saturday the 31st was another beautiful fall day. The gorgeous, unseasonably warm weather had held up for Halloween. For reasons we'll never understand, Noah Harpham got out of bed that fine morning, gathered up his guns, went outside, and killed anyone that he saw. His first victim was a guy who just happened to be cycling past, 35 year old Iraq war veteran Andrew Myers. The neighbors, who had called the police when they noticed Harpham pacing around armed, bore witness to a man begging for his life. He was gunned down on the spot. Then Harpham took off toward Platte Avenue, a block north. For those unfamiliar with the city: Platte Avenue is a major street with heavy traffic at any time of day. Harpham headed west on Platte, soon coming across two women who had the unfortunate luck of being on their front porch at that moment. He immediately murdered Jennifer Vasquez, 42, and Christina Baccus-Galella, 34. Both women were in recovery from drug or alcohol addiction. They were residents of the sober living home upon whose porch they were killed.
Harpham then made his way toward Wahsatch and Platte, a busy intersection with a Wendy's restaurant on the corner. It was there that the police caught up with him. A brief gunfight ensued, and Harpham was killed. (It bears mentioning that the Palmer High School gymnasium is "catty corner" from the Wendy's. If this had happened on a weekday, there would have been dozens of students about.)
None of these people deserved to die the way they did. Mr Myers had survived three tours in Iraq, only to be gunned down as he rode his bike in a quiet neighborhood in Colorado Springs. Ms. Vasquez and Ms. Baccus-Galella had both worked hard to conquer their addictions. They had hope for their respective futures. I'm outraged and I'm sad. This is the kind of incident that you read about in the news -- happening in some other city. Not your own city. I didn't blog about it until now because I was so angry. I had no stomach for making photographs of the crime scene. It took me until Thursday to will myself to do it. As I drove to Harpham's house, I kept an eye on my car's odometer. Exactly 1.8 miles from my front door to his. It was easy to locate, because a memorial to Mr. Myers was sitting right in front of it -- a sad addendum to my Theme Day post. The neighborhood is called Deaf and Blind, because the Colorado School for the Deaf and Blind sits in the middle of it. I shudder to think if Harpham had headed east instead of west. It could have been even more horrible. Too horrible to contemplate.
As I snapped pictures, a TV news reporter stood a few yards away, talking dramatically into a camera and gesturing toward the house. Meanwhile, cars drove slowly down this normally quiet street lined with 100 year old bungalows. Each driver paused before 230 North Prospect to stare. To see where the monster had lived, where he had claimed his first victim. One guy in a black Audi drove past, then went around the block and did it again. He stopped his car to ask me, "Is that the house?" I can only describe the expression on his face as sickened, dumbfounded. When I confirmed that he was correct, he said what we've all been thinking: that he had lived here all of his life, and he can't believe that something like this happened in our city. All I could do was nod in agreement.
The warm weather held until yesterday. Then the wind came. It's winter now.
Mr. Harpham lived upstairs in this unassuming old home. It looks like it might have originally been a mercantile of some sort.
A note on the gate addresses the police, giving them a phone number to call for access to Harpham's apartment.