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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Joshua Harber's family

by Michael Ferraresi - Aug. 14, 2010 06:26 AM
The Arizona Republic

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Joshua Harber's family said he joined a motorcycle gang six months before he was shot and killed outside a north Phoenix bar in 2002.

Eight years later, the 25-year-old's relatives continue to struggle to understand a motive in the murder, which remains unsolved as detectives hope for anonymous tips to identify a suspect.

His mother, Cindy Harber, said the anniversary of her son's slaying came and went on June 9 with little attention. A $5,000 reward is available for information leading to an arrest or indictment in the murder. But the case remains cold.

Harber's death received a notation in the 2006 book "Angels of Death: Inside the Biker Gangs' Crime Empire."

Some information on the slaying suggested that the California native wanted out of the gang, and was killed for trying to leave, according to investigators. Other details suggested he was killed by a rival gang member. However, Phoenix police detectives said the facts could remain unclear unless a witness comes forward.

"I keep the hope, for our need of justice and closure," Cindy said from her home in Southern California.

Her son suffered fatal gunshot wounds during a midnight argument with an unidentified man outside Coyote Wild Bar and Grill, 1732 W. Bell Road.

Phoenix police described the shooter as a White man wearing a black leather coat. He was seen fleeing just east of Interstate 17 in a red Honda CRX or Civic.

At the time, Harber - a Ventura, Calif. resident - was characterized as a member of the Hells Angels motorcycle gang.

Harber said her son enjoyed the thrill of riding with his fellow Ventura chapter members, though he contemplated leaving the gang in the weeks leading up to his death.

"Towards the end, he felt like something was going to happen," she said. "I begged him to get out of there countless times."

Phoenix police Sgt. Darren Burch, who oversees Silent Witness, said at the time witnesses might have been too scared to speak with detectives. He hoped that could change.

"As time passes, and education about Silent Witness increases, hopefully we can get that message to someone in that bar who might have seen something to get detectives in the right direction," Burch said.

The murder is listed as a gang-related homicide, though it is still unclear how the gang affiliation played into Harber's death. No arrests have been made.

"Over time, alliances will fail, friendships will fail, and they're more willing or in more of a mental framework to come forward in an anonymous manner," Burch said. "These are the types of cases that are perfect for Silent Witness, quite frankly."

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