Saturday, May 26, 2007

Another Victim?

Being a victim of the system, learning all I've been forced to learn the last few years, I agree I've become jaded.

I wonder if this poor child was on one of those wonderful drugs they're giving out like candy to these poor kids these days, or was he programed like so many of our innocent children today.

Why else would this 10 year old stab his father to death?

Moments before his chaotic death, witnesses said, Thomas Simmons heard his 10-year-old son's pleas not to strike the boy's mother.

"If you're going to hit someone, hit me," the boy demanded of his father, who neighbors said was pounding on the mother's apartment door early Friday.

Minutes later, with his father stabbed in the chest with a kitchen knife and bleeding to death in the apartment doorway, the boy was frantic.

"I've killed my father. They're going to put me in jail," the boy said, according to Danny Cline, who lives in a neighboring apartment.

Friday morning, about nine hours after the fight that rocked the apartment building on St. Paul's East Side, Cline said the child had no choice. "He was just protecting his mother, his brother, his sister and himself," Cline said. "We all would have done the same thing."

By noon Friday, the boy had been released to relatives and police were investigating the possibility that he had acted in self-defense, said St. Paul police department spokesman Tom Walsh.

Police declined Friday to identify the boy or his mother, who police said did not suffer any physical injuries. Neighbors said the woman had recently moved into a separate apartment in the building where Simmons lived in the 1800 block of E. 7th Street.

Apartment residents and those who worked with Simmons said he had been drinking Thursday night at a St. Paul nightclub with colleagues.

"He was such a docile man," said Margaret Taylor, who lives across the hall from Simmons. "He was not a monster. Alcohol affects everyone differently."

Simmons, 34, had agreed to go out with his boss, Subway store manager Tony Jones, and other co-workers. The group met at Club Cristal about 10:30 p.m. and Simmons showed no signs of being in a bad mood, Jones said.

The two discussed fatherhood and the challenge of raising their kids. Simmons never told him, either at work in the last four months or at the club, that he had a significant other. Jones said he believed that Simmons lived with his oldest child, the 10-year-old boy.

Jones left the club early because he had to work Friday morning, but he told Simmons to call him before he left. "I wanted to make sure he was OK to drive," Jones said.

At 1:58 a.m., Jones got the call from Simmons. "I told him he'd better be at work in the morning and he said, 'I'll be there,' " Jones said.

Shrieks, then blood

Simmons went to his apartment building, but instead of going home he went to visit Taylor across the hall. He told her, she said, that he'd had about eight shots of booze.

It proved too much for him and after he threw up in her bathroom, Taylor told him to go home and sleep it off.

He said he would first check on his children, who lived with their mother on the first floor of the building.

"I told him it was after two in the morning," she said. "I told him they were fine and probably sleeping."

Moments later, Cline, who lives next door to the boy's mother, was startled by pounding on his neighbor's door. He and a friend, Eric Alexander, went to the hall to intervene.

Simmons "told us to stay out of it because this was his family's business," Cline recalled.

The two considered restraining Simmons but figured it might get them into trouble. So they returned to their apartment and tried to sleep.

But the loud confrontation continued, both inside the apartment and in the hallway, neighbors told police.

After a woman's shrieks filled the hall, neighbors found Simmons in the apartment doorway, his white T-shirt half red with blood, Cline said.

Cline said he told Simmons that police and an ambulance were on the way, and warned him not to move.

"He was losing way too much blood," Cline said.

Another woman ran inside the apartment to fetch a towel and held it against Simmons' chest wound.

Cline said he tried to calm the children, including the 10-year-old and his younger brother and sister.

Children in pain

"They had already seen enough," he said. "They didn't need to see their father that way."

Simmons' criminal history includes several arrests for low-level crimes, including driving with a suspended license and giving false information to police.

He also was charged with a felony in Dakota County for possessing a sawed-off shotgun, arrest records show.

But there were no signs of a turbulent relationship between the couple, Taylor said.

"She and the children would come up to his place and he would go down to theirs all the time," she said.

Simmons, a Mississippi native, moved to Minnesota about 12 years ago and had three children here with the woman, whom he did not marry, his sister, Willye Pearl Simmons Matthews, of Magnolia, Miss., said Friday night.

"He was a good person," Matthews said. "You really had to know him. He loved people. Anything he could help you with, he'd try to help you."

He had helped comfort her, she said, when she lost a son in a car wreck 13 years ago.

"He was just there to talk to," Matthews said.

Cline, who said he often saw Simmons and his 10-year-old son together, said he is convinced that the boy had no intention of killing his father.

"It seemed like he loved his father," Cline said. "I'm sure he was just trying to back him off."

Connie Skillingstad, executive director of Prevent Child Abuse Minnesota, said that children in families where parents are at war often feel it is somehow their fault, and thus their responsibility to intervene.

"The child is, without help, looking at a lifetime of pain," Skillingstad said. "He's going to need an enormous amount of help. It's a terrible tragedy. He's likely to not ever recover from this sort of experience."

No comments: