SHAWNEE, Kan. -- A Wednesday night vigil caused a bit of controversy in Shawnee. The gathering was for John “Wes” Simmons. He’s one of the men suspected in the Sunday hold-up at a Wal-Mart of a woman putting her young child in the backseat of a car.
Simmons was shot and killed by someone being called a good Samaritan who was trying to save the woman. Simmons’ loved ones gathered for a vigil and balloon release in the same parking lot where it happened.
His sister, Kayla Blackmon, at one point said the family was there to apologize for Simmons’ behavior. They blame the action that claimed his life on a battle with drugs and depression. Blackmon said the brother she knew and loved would have never done anything like this had it not been for his struggles with drugs and depression.
“He’s not a bad person. The things that overpowered him that overtook him is what lead him to do this,” she said.
“He was working so hard to get on the right track. He was so close. His wife told me he just broke down and prayed not a day or two before this happened. He was in treatment. Monday September 12, he was going to in patient treatment,”
He was killed the night before.
“I know that my brother was wrong for what he did, and I will never try to defend that ever because we are not those type of people. We are against that. We are against violence, we are against drug and I need everybody to be against it as well. We need to come together at a time like this. This is an eye opener," said Blackmon.
At least two protesters showed up expressing their disapproval of the gathering, one of them calling it a disgrace.
Loved ones say Simmons leaves behind eight kids. Following her brother’s death Blackmon is planning an anti-violence event in November in KCK, hoping it will spark change for the better in a community where there have been several recent homicides.