SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - Scottsdale Police officials announce on Feb. 11 that an arrest has been made in connection with the murder of a Special Olympic athlete.
In a statement, officials say they have arrested 38-year-old John Merryman in connection 59-year-old Scott Harkness's murder. Investigators say a weapon found near the crime scene of Feb. 6 was forensically linked to Merryman.
"Confirmation linking the weapon to Merryman came on Thursday, February 10th, 2022," read a portion of the statement. "Merryman will be booked into the Maricopa County Jail on one count of First Degree Murder."
According to court documents, Merryman has a criminal history, which includes aggravated assault, stalking, domestic violence, drug possession and arson. He was also prohibited from having firearms.
Victim was found on the side of the road
According to earlier statements from Scottsdale Police, they received reports of gunshots just after 1:00 a.m. on Feb. 6 near Camelback and Hayden Roads. A witness then saw a person lying on the side of the road.
When first responders arrived at the scene, they transported Harkness to a nearby hospital, where he later died.
"Scott was a member of the special needs community, was an active participant in the City of Scottsdale Adaptive Recreation Program, and an athlete with the Scottsdale Special Olympics Team, the Bobcats," police said in a news release.
Court documents provide new details on case
In the days since the shooting, it has emerged that Scott was walking home from his favorite bar when police say he was shot twice, allegedly by Merryman.
At the time of the shooting, Merryman was reportedly in a 2010 black Mercedes-Benz. That car, according to investigators, was later found, abandoned, at a church parking lot.
In court documents, prosecutors say Harkness appeared to be a "randomly selected murder victim."
Victim remembered by loved ones
"He didn’t deserve this, and the person - I have a hard time even saying that word associated with him, but the person who did this needs to pay for doing this to my brother," said Scott's younger brother, Patrick.
In the days since the shooting that took Harkness's life, memories of the victim remain untouched in his Scottsdale apartment.
"I’m still in shock and disbelief. I can’t believe this happened to my brother," said Patrick.
Inside the apartment, Patrick pointed out his Special Olympics trophies, his DVD collection, his cherished family photos, and his beloved Chuck Norris t-shirts.
"He was very funny, very outgoing," said Patrick. "Loved people, loved being around people, loved just having fun with his friends."
Members of the community remember Harkness
Daniel Ferguson, owner of Clancy's Pub remembers Harkness, saying, "Scott would just walk into the room, and just a happy-go-lucky guy."
He said Harkness was more than a regular customer.
"One of those people you were excited to see, you’re like, ‘Scotty!’ And he’s like, ‘Can I get a soda?’ Ferguson remembered. "We’d give him a soda and he’d hang out, you know. We felt like he was part of the crew here at Clancy's."
Harkness would often stop by Zipps Sports Grill next door and then head over to Clancy's. Ferguson says that’s what Harkness did the night he died.
Security footage captured him inside the bar. "I’m doing whatever I can do to help the officers to crack this case cause. To see someone that was so nice go down, it just hurts your soul," Ferguson said.
Harkness was well known by those in the area, working at Bashas' years ago. He was an attendant at local recreation volleyball games.
Anna Ellis, his former coach says, "I was devastated. It’s a very big loss to our community." She was his Special Olympics coach for the last six years.
"He just embodied everything that you would think an athlete or a role model should embody," Ellis said. "He made you feel like you were such an important part of his everyday life and he made you feel happy to be around him. He was just a genuine guy."
A GoFundMe has been established on Harkness' behalf.
The case remains under investigation and anyone with information is being asked to call 480-312-TIPS (8477) or Silent Witness at 480-WITNESS (948-6377). You can remain anonymous and receive a cash award for tips leading to an arrest or indictment.
You can also leave an anonymous tip with Scottsdale PD at https://www.p3tips.com/TipForm.aspx?ID=1963&C=&T=.
Donation to Scott Harkness Memorial Fund
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