MILWAUKEE (AP) — A 75-year-old Milwaukee man charged in the fatal shooting of a 13-year-old boy who lived next door had been a repeated target of break-ins, according to neighbors.
John Henry Spooner was charged with one count of first-degree intentional homicide, use of a dangerous weapon. Spooner was arrested Thursday after waiting for police at the crime scene on Milwaukee’s south side.
Police said they are investigating whether there was a history of disagreements between the man and boy. The boy, identified as Darius Simmons, 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.
Simmons 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, the complaint said.
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.
Spooner remained in jail. A phone message left at his home was not immediately returned Friday. It wasn’t clear if he had an attorney yet. The case wasn’t yet listed in Wisconsin’s online court system.
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,” Johnson said.
Neighbor Robert Delatorre said Spooner 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 the man suspected his next-door neighbors had committed the crime, Delatorre said. Spooner installed surveillance cameras outside his house.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Alderman Bob Donovan had breakfast with Spooner earlier in the day at a George Webb restaurant. Donovan said the man 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.
Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.