Vigil held to remember 13-year-old shot, killed by neighbor

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MILWAUKEE -- John Spooner, the 75-year-old man charged with killing his 13-year-old neighbor, appeared in court Saturday morning, June 2nd.

John Spooner

John Spooner

In the afternoon, the family of 13-year-old Darius Simmons held a vigil outside the family's house. Neighbors and community activists gathered and decried the shooting that killed Simmons.

"Innocent children do not deserve to die! I don't care what the situation is, death and killing is not the answer!" Rev. Leondis Fuller of the New Covenant Baptist Church said.

According to the criminal complaint, Patricia Larry told police her son was taking the garbage cart back from the curb when Spooner confronted him. Larry told police the man accused Simmons of breaking into his house and demanded the teen return stolen property, including shotguns. Spooner then pulled out a semi-automatic pistol.

"(Simmons') mom wants everyone to know he had his hands up, standing in front of (Spooner), and (Spooner) shot him," Simmons' aunt, Betty McCuiston said.

Other relatives said Alderman Bob Donovan is partly responsible. Spooner met with the alderman the morning of the shooting. Donovan said Spooner complained about multiple break-ins.

"I said 'did you call the police?' He said 'oh, I did' but for whatever reason, he wasn`t satisfied with what the police did or didn`t do," Alderman Donovan said.

Simmons' uncle, Leon Larry, said Donovan could have done more to calm Spooner down that morning.

"I hold a grudge with that man because this man went to him with his problem and he didn't respond to it, and my nephew is dead," Larry said.

Activists like Fuller called for tighter gun laws, but for the most part, avoided assigning blame and instead called for peace.

"It's time for us to change," Fuller said.

Simmons' family has set up a memorial fund through Tri-City National Bank. The fund will help pay for the teen's funeral which will be in Arkansas.

Saturday, the judge gave Spooner a $300,000 bond. He is due back in court June 11.

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