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Army veteran found dead of apparent suicide in parking lot

PHOENIX — Authorities are investigating the shooting death of a U.S. Army veteran in the parking lot of a Veterans Affairs facility in Phoenix as an apparent suicide, police said on Wednesday.

Thomas Murphy, 53, likely died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound outside the Department of Veterans Affairs Phoenix Regional Office on Sunday evening, said Phoenix police spokesman Sergeant Jonathan Howard.

Murphy’s body was found lying just outside his vehicle with a gun on the ground nearby, he said. Efforts to resuscitate him were unsuccessful.

“We’re still looking into this,” Howard said. “But at this point all indications are that he did commit suicide.”

A note was left at the scene, “expressing his feelings and saying goodbye,” Howard said. He declined to provide other details of its contents.

A Phoenix VA spokeswoman said officials are reviewing the suicide as it does in all such cases, with the findings expected in 120 days.

“We’re unable to comment directly on this veteran’s death out of respect for his privacy,” said spokeswoman Jean Schaefer. “We extend our condolences to his family and friends.”

Another VA spokeswoman said Murphy served in the U.S. Army for about four years.

Police said a witness saw Murphy drive his truck into the parking lot and sit in the vehicle for several minutes before a “loud crack” was heard. The witness then went to investigate, found the body and called police.

The witness did not see anyone else in the area, police said.

The suicide comes at a time of increased scrutiny of the VA, sparked by problems found at the Phoenix medical center and others nationwide. Long wait times for care and attempts to hide the delays were found.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Eric Shinseki resigned in 2014 amid searing criticism of the system.

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