A young man was gunned down in his own front yard in front of his mother in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. 13-year-old 6th grader Darius Simmons was shot by 75-year-old neighbor John Henry Spooner, who suspected the boy of stealing a gun collection from his home. Spooner confronted the boy and his mother in the front yard of their home. Simmons denied stealing the weapons, stating he was in school at the time of the robbery.
Spooner then raised a 9 mm handgun and pointed it at Simmons. The frightened boy had his arms raised when the man fired a shot into his chest. The boy started to run away as Spooner fired another shot into the boy’s back before the horrified eyes of his mother. Spooner was arrested and charged with first-degree murder. His bond was set at only $300,000.
People acquainted with Spooner say he was upset that his predominantly white neighborhood was becoming multi-ethnic. Simmons and his family had moved next-door to the man a short time before the shooting. Spooner had breakfast with Milwaukee Alderman Bob Donovan, to whom he expressed his frustration with the failure of police to arrest Simmons based on his suspicions. He stated to Donovan that there were “other ways of dealing with these problems.” An hour later, Simmons was dead.
Simmons’ mother was questioned for two hours by officers as her son lay dead on the pavement. Even after he was transported to the hospital she was detained in a police car. She consented to a search of her home to locate the stolen property, but police found nothing. Running a background check on his older brother, police discovered a year-old warrant for truancy, so they arrested the grief-stricken brother and detained him until 10 p.m. that evening. Simmons’ mother returned to her home to find it completely ransacked, with ceiling tiles ripped from the ceiling, clothing strewn everywhere, and furniture turned upside-down.
One must wonder why a traumatized family of a slain victim was treated in such a callous manner, while the murderer’s family was allowed to enter his home, a crime scene, to retrieve personal belongings. Why did Spooner believe himself justified in shooting an unarmed teen, and why did he suspect the young man of theft in the first place? I think the answers are evident.
Donations can be made to the Simmons Family at Tri-City National Bank in the name of Darius Simmons.