|Erik Davis Harp|
Trying to sneak a gun into courthouse? That raises the seriousness of this story by several levels.
Harp was indicted several years ago in Queen's, New York, as one of two ringleaders in an offshore sports-gambling ring, based in Panama, that brought in more than $20 million a month. Despite his connections to massive wealth, Harp applied for indigent status, which the Florida court denied. He hired Kevin D. Barr, of the Panama City Beach law firm Bryant Higby, who entered a not-guilty plea on his client's behalf.
A pre-trial conference is set for 1:30 p.m. on June 9 before Judge Brantley Clark Jr. Here are specifics of the charges against Harp, per Jennifer Hawkins, an assistant state attorney for the 14th Judicial Circuit in Florida:
Erik D. Harp, on or about March 15, 2016, in the County of BAY and the State of FLORIDA, did knowingly carry a Walther 9mm handgun, a firearm, concealed on or about his person, contrary to Florida Statute 790.01(2).
Under Florida law, Harp is charged with a third-degree felony that is punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.
According to charges from prosecutors, Harp "knowingly" took a gun into a courthouse. That suggests it was not an accident, and that raises a number of troubling questions:
(1) Did Harp have legitimate courthouse business on that date? If so, what was it? Was he present because of a criminal case, a civil case, or some other business usually conducted at the courthouse?
(2) If Harp had no business at the courthouse, why was he "knowingly" trying to enter with a handgun? Did he plan to shoot someone? If so, who was it, and why?
(3) If Harp intended to shoot someone, was he essentially on a suicide mission? Isn't a lone gunman likely to be way outnumbered in a courthouse, where multiple armed security types are likely to be on duty?
(4) Will investigators look into Erik Harp's communication records--e-mails, phone messages, texts, etc.--in an effort to determine the intentions behind his trip to a courthouse, with a gun?
Here are several key documents from the Harp case. (A hat tip to helpful readers who played a major role in preparation of this post.):