U-M grad killed in 1982 attack at law office remembered

By Steve Thorpe

Legal News

Even a brief life can cast a long shadow. Eve August was only 24 when she was shot and killed during a 1982 attack on the Detroit law office where she worked as a summer intern.

She was to be remembered Saturday by family, friends, and legal professionals who worked on the case and academics involved in the scholarship that bears her name.

At 11:15 a.m. on June 11, 1982, a disgruntled insurance salesman named Robert Harrington launched an attack on the law offices of Edward Bell and Lester Hudson in the Buhl Building in downtown Detroit.

Harrington was armed with a shotgun, pistol and a jar of gasoline as he demanded a check he hadn't received. When he didn't like the reply, he started shooting, beginning a 90-minute rampage that left Eve August dead and dozens injured from gunfire or the fire that followed. Harrington was eventually sentenced to life in prison.

Judge Timothy Kenny was a young attorney when the attack occurred and ended up prosecuting the case.

''I remember standing in front of the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice. It was a beautiful, sunny summer day,'' Kenny says. ''You could see the smoke billowing up from the Buhl Building. At the time, I was a prosecutor and was assigned to a special felony murder squad. I remember getting a page from the unit I worked for saying that they had been assigned to the case. I was told it was at Ed Bell's law firm and that at least one person had been killed. My work on the case (as prosecutor) began at that moment.''

That ''one person'' was Eve August, who had the misfortune to be in the line of fire when Harrington erupted. She had nothing to do with his dispute with the law firm.

Eve's younger brother, Lou, remembers receiving the shocking news

''I was working at IBM in Florida,'' he says. ''A friend who worked at a downtown Detroit law firm called me and said, 'Something's happened at the firm where your sister is working.' She had no idea that Eve had died. I immediately called my father at his office and he said he had also heard something had happened and that he was headed there. I left my office for lunch, having no idea what was going on. When I returned, an IBM HR person was standing in the foyer and handed me an airline ticket for Detroit. I'll always remember IBM because of what they did for me.''

Eve August also had a political side and her undergraduate degree at the University of Michigan was in political science. She was very active in the Democratic Party and at the age of 18 was a delegate at the national convention in 1980.

But it was never all work and no play for Eve.

''We grew up back in the disco era and Eve had a big passion for dance,'' says Lou. ''We were both attending U-M and by that time we each had our own sets of friends. But we would frequently cross paths at the dance clubs around Detroit and Ann Arbor. She just loved to dance."

Judge Kenny got to know quite a bit about Eve during the murder investigation and was impressed by what he found.

''I never had the pleasure of meeting Eve August,'' he says. ''Everything I learned about her during the course of the case led me to conclude that she was a warm and caring individual. Eve was also very bright and had an unlimited future ahead of her.''

''I think about her every day,'' says Lou. ''Soon after her death, everything in my life changed. I ended up quitting my job. I found myself searching for what I wanted to do and where I wanted to go. The pain was staggering. There was an unimaginable void. As a young man in my early 20s, I just wanted it to go away. It took me years to realize that it doesn't ever go away.''

Published: Mon, Jun 11, 2012