A 75-year-old white Milwaukee man has been charged in the shooting death of a 13-year-old boy, whom he claims stole guns from his home.
John Henry Spooner was charged with one count of first-degree intentional homicide when he killed Darius Simmons right in front of his mother.
Police said they are investigating whether there was a history of disagreements between Spooner and Darius.
Darius was unarmed when he was shot in the street outside their homes, according to a police department report on its website.
According to the complaint, Spooner approached Simmons as the boy retrieved a garbage cart from in front of a house Thursday morning. The boy's mother, Patricia Larry, who saw the shooting, said Spooner told her son he "wanted his stuff back and that he wanted his shotguns back," the complaint said.
Darius and his mother told Spooner they did not have his property. Spooner then pulled a gun, pointed it at Simmons and fired one shot from about five feet away.
Spooner fired a second shot at Simmons as the boy was running away, according to the complaint. An autopsy found the boy 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.
Above: Patricia Larry of Milwaukee holds a picture of her son during a news conference Saturday. Darius Simmons, 13, was killed in front of their south side home. Photo credit: Meg Kissinger
Neighbor Toni Johnson said she was watching TV when she heard a commotion outside her door:
"I looked out the door and saw the mother kneeling over her boy at the curb, screaming, 'my son!' and the old guy was standing right over there by the stop sign with his dog, just waiting."
According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a friend of Spooner, Alderman Bob Donovan, said he had breakfast with Spooner earlier in the day at a George Webb restaurant and Donovan said Spooner told him he had lost $3,000 worth of shotguns in a burglary this week, was frustrated with police and was dying of lung cancer.
"He seemed burdened, truly burdened," Donovan said.
Spooner also said something about "there are other ways to deal with situations" the police couldn't resolve, Donovan added.
Reminiscent of Trayvon Martin, this is another case of a vigilante taking matters into his own hands. Our thoughts and prayers are with Darius’ family.
Above: John Henry Spooner mug shot