DA recounts events of deadly day
Harrington knew police officers were in the home of his estranged wife, Michelle, 207 Mill St., Clinton, when he broke through the back door and began firing a 12-gauge semiautomatic shotgun, O’Leary said.
“I think it was suicide by police officer. …. He obviously knew the officers were there,” O’Leary said after he reported that earlier that day Harrington had asked a friend for a gun and made the comment: “It all ends tonight.”
After firing one shot in the home’s kitchen but not hitting anybody, Harrington was wounded by officer Kimberly Rau of the Clinton Police Department.
But Harrington persisted in his rage, O’Leary said.
Trailing blood, he burst into the living room of the small house as Rock County Sheriff’s Deputy Curtis Streuly was trying to get Harrington’s estranged wife, Michelle; two of their four children, and Michelle’s mother, Marilyn Smith, safely out of the house.
Smith, 58, threw herself over the children. Harrington fired again, and the blast caught Smith in the back of a shoulder.
Despite fear that she would have to have her arm amputated, Smith is recovering as well as can be expected, O’Leary said.
Both officers fired—Rau three more times, Streuly once. Harrington was hit several times, but because O’Leary still hasn’t seen the final autopsy report, he doesn’t know if all four shots of the officers’ second volley struck Harrington.
Harrington, 36, of 11447 Minkey Road, Clinton, had been spiraling toward tragedy for months. He and Michelle were getting a divorce, and they had money trouble.
In August, Harrington, armed with a pistol and a shotgun, was involved in a two-hour standoff with police. The incident ended peacefully, but Harrington was charged with many crimes.
A hearing on those charges was the first incident in the deadly chain of events Dec. 18, O’Leary said.
The district attorney detailed what the investigation revealed:
After the hearing, Harrington became belligerent in a phone conversation with his wife. She told him: “I’m not afraid of you anymore.”
Harrington became enraged and was “losing it,” a friend of his told investigators.
Harrington asked his friend for a gun and made the comment: “It all ends tonight.”
The friend refused to give him a gun. Instead, he called Michelle and warned her to contact police and make sure she was safe.
Michelle called Clinton police. Officer Rau came to her home at 207 Mill St.
Harrington went to Edwards Ice Arena in Beloit, where his son was practicing hockey. He got into a confrontation with his father-in-law and shoved him a couple of times. Harrington again said: “It all ends tonight.”
Beloit police were called.
When the father-in-law returned to his home in Beloit Township, he found that it had been broken into and two shotguns—a 12-gauge and 20-gauge—had been stolen. After the shootings, police recovered a 12-gauge shotgun and a 20-gauge shotgun.
The father-in-law called Town of Beloit Police. Officers from the three departments searched for Harrington. They suspected he was armed.
Officer Rau called for backup. Deputy Streuly responded.
Harrington called Michelle on her cell phone. She gave the phone to Rau, who tried to calm Harrington down.
Rau told Harrington that all he was facing from the day’s events was a disorderly conduct charge. She asked him to meet her. She advised him to go to an automatic teller machine and get some money, so he could make bond after Rau arrested him.
Harrington told Rau: “Ask my wife: ‘Is she scared now?’”
Rau again tried to calm Harrington, but he screamed: “Ask her if she’s scared now!”
Michelle heard that scream—not over the phone but from the backyard.
The officers started herding the family out the front door, Streuly in the lead, Rau bringing up the rear.
Harrington barged through the back door to the kitchen, breaking the lock. He had stuffed 12-gauge shells in his pockets. Some fell out, marking his path from the backyard into the kitchen.
He fired the semiautomatic shotgun once in the kitchen but didn’t hit anyone. Rau fired once and wounded Harrington. But he kept coming.
Rau took cover down a hallway perpendicular to Harrington’s path. The distance from the kitchen into the living room and to the front door is only a matter of feet. The children and the two women huddled on the floor as Streuly took aim.
Harrington stormed into the living room and fired once at his family. Smith shielded the children with her body. She took the blast high on her back.
Both officers fired, killing Harrington.
Only seconds passed from when Harrington burst through the back door to when he was killed, O’Leary said, then asked rhetorically:
“How quickly could he have taken them (relatives) out if the officers had not acted. …
“He obviously knew the officers were there,” O’Leary said. “He had stuffed his pockets with shells. Live shells were falling out of his coat pockets, so he basically came there to end it.”
Last updated: 12:17 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012