reports on the killing of 13-year-old Darius Simmons—and what it says about the grip of racist violence in the U.S.
SHOT TO death while taking in his family’s trash cans.
The circumstances surrounding the murder of 13-year-old Darius Simmons don’t appear to be in question. On May 30, the Black Milwaukee teenager became another victim of racism in the U.S.
Darius and his family had lived in their home only a month before the teenager was fatally shot by his next-door neighbor, 75-year-old John Spooner. According to reports, Darius’ mother, Patricia Larry, had moved because she wanted her son to grow up in a safer neighborhood. According to family members, Darius was a funny, loving kid who rode his bike more than seven miles to school each day.
On May 30, Darius was home sick from school when he went outside to retrieve the family’s garbage cans from in front of their house. There, he was confronted by Spooner, who apparently believed Darius had been involved in a break-in of his home earlier in the week, during which several guns were stolen. According to his mother, Darius was in school when the break-in occurred.
Spooner confronted the teen, telling him he “wanted his shotguns back,” according to Darius’ mother, who watched the argument unfold. Spooner then pulled out a handgun and shot Darius twice—even as the teen held up his arms and tried to run away. When the police arrived on the scene, Spooner allegedly admitted, “Yeah, I shot him.”
Spooner has since been charged with first-degree homicide and is being held on $300,000 bond. Just an hour before he killed Darius, Spooner ate breakfast with local Alderman Bob Donovan, where he talked about the break-in.
Donovan told WISN reporter Marianne Lyles, “I asked [Spooner], ‘Did you call the police?’ He said, ‘Yeah,’ but for whatever reason, seemed a little frustrated with that investigation. I don’t know the details of it.”
Donovan added, “He did say that ‘maybe there are other ways of dealing with this’”—suggesting the shooting may have been premeditated.
Compounding the tragedy, Patricia Larry says that she was detained for questioning in a squad car for two hours after the shooting and was unable to go the hospital to be with her son as he was dying.
And during the investigation of the crime, police reportedly decided to search Darius’ home—and arrested his older brother for truancy tickets.