Another unarmed black teen has been gunned down, but in this instance justice is at least attempting to be carried out immediately.
Last week, 75-year-old Milwaukee resident John Henry Spooner approached 13-year-old Darius Simmons as he was getting a garbage cart from in front of a house Thursday morning. According to a statement from the boy’s mother, Patricia Larry, in a police complaint, Spooner told her son he “wanted his stuff back and that he wanted his shotguns back,” the complaint said.
Simmons and his mother reportedly told Spooner they did not have his property and he then pulled a gun, pointed it at Simmons and fired one shot from about five feet away. As the the boy was running away, Spooner fired a second shot which fatally wounded the boy. An autopsy found the teen suffered a gunshot wound to his chest, and the bullet damaged the ventricles of his heart before exiting his back. Police recovered a weapon as well as two spent casings at the scene of the crime.
Spooner was arrested Thursday after waiting for police at the crime scene on Milwaukee’s south side. After being taken into custody he was charged with one count of first-degree intentional homicide and use of a dangerous weapon. Police are currently investigating whether there is a history of disputes between Spooner and Simmons. Robert Delatorre, who is a neighbor of Spooner’s, said the old man lived alone with his two dogs and often walked around the block. While he was on one of those walks his house was burglarized and he suspected his next-door neighbors had committed the crime. He also installed surveillance cameras outside of his house, but it’s not clear if police have looked into any possible tapes just yet.
Alderman Bob Donovan told The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel he had breakfast with Spooner earlier on the same day of the shooting and said the man told him he had lost $3,000 worth of shotguns in a burglary this week and that he was frustrated with police and was dying of lung cancer.
“He seemed burdened, truly burdened,” Donovan said. Spooner also said something to the extent of “there are other ways to deal with situations” the police couldn’t resolve, Donovan added.
Sounds like another sad case of vigilante justice—with no proof of wrongdoing. Biko Baker, Executive Director of the League of Young Voters and a former political correspondent for The Source, commented on the case saying:
“Black youth are being stereotyped, targeted, and killed by law enforcement and now community vigilantes. This is bigger than the Castle Doctrine (Stand your ground law) , this is about our country’s continued refusal to acknowledge that we are still suffering from the sins of our forefathers. And the more we try to push the racial boogieman under the cover, the more it is going to bite us in the a**.”
Thankfully, Spooner remains in custody on a $300,000 cash bond.
Brande Victorian is a blogger and culture writer in New York City. Follower her on Twitter at @be_vic.
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