The neighborhood around his house went from White to Blacks and Hispanics... He stayed his ground...The 13 year old colored boy from next door broke into his house and stole his stuff... as John H. Spooner said in his own words... I TOOK CARE OF WHAT THE POLICE DIDN'T!Everyone around W. Arrow and S. 20th streets knew John H. Spooner, the older white man who had lived there for decades, much longer than his younger Hispanic and African-American neighbors, and who was always walking his dogs around the block.
And they knew he was upset about a break-in at his house earlier this week, when burglars took some expensive shotguns and other items.
He suspected his new next door neighbor.
According to a criminal complaint filed Friday:
As 13-year-old Darius Simmons was moving a garbage cart from the curb Thursday morning, Spooner, 75, confronted him and demanded the boy give back his stuff and the shotguns.
Darius told him he didn't have his stuff.
The boy's mother chimed in, telling Spooner he should just go back inside. Then suddenly, as the mother watched, Spooner raised a black handgun and shot Darius in the chest from five feet away.
Darius ran around the cor ner and collapsed on Comstock Ave., about 10 feet from a small play area marked "Children's Park." As he ran, Spooner fired a second shot that did not hit the boy.
When police arrived, Spooner was still on the sidewalk, holding the gun. When told to drop the weapon, he placed it on the ground and told police, "Yeah, I shot him."
A second witness, who had been across the street, also told police he saw the shooting.
Spooner is now charged with first degree intentional homicide, use of a dangerous weapon, and faces life in prison if convicted.
The shooting occurred about 10 a.m.
Earlier that morning, Spooner had told Ald. Bob Donovan, whom he met inside a George Webb's restaurant, that burglars had taken about $3,000 worth of shotguns from his home two days earlier, that he suspected his neighbors and that he was frustrated police had made no arrests.
Donovan said he mostly listened as the men sat at the counter, and Spooner ate a breakfast of two pancakes, eggs and sausage.
He said he has known Spooner for years and knew Spooner had been a crime victim many times in the past and had even installed surveillance cameras on his home's exterior. He said Spooner mentioned that he was lonely since his wife died in 2004 and that he was dying of lung cancer.
"He seemed burdened, truly burdened," Donovan said Thursday.
He said Spooner also said something else - that "there are other ways to deal with situations" the police couldn't solve. Donovan said he didn't really take it as more than a passing comment at breakfast.
Was Spooner telegraphing vigilante actions?
"I'm not going to speculate," Donovan said, "but that's what you wonder now."
Attempts to reach Spooner's several adult children were unsuccessful Thursday and Friday.
Darius' family members said Friday that his mother, Patricia Larry, was still not up to talking with reporters, but that they planned a news conference Saturday at their home on W. Arrow St. They had moved in about a month ago.
Roseann St. Aubin, a spokeswoman for Milwaukee Public Schools, said Darius was a sixth-grader at Gaenslen School, 1250 E. Burleigh St., where the district's grief counseling team was dispatched Friday to talk with his classmates and others who may have known him or were disturbed by the news of his death.
Darius was the 10th MPS student to die this school year, St. Aubin said, and the eighth by violent means.
Residents have described Spooner as a good neighbor, mostly friendly and helpful and seen frequently walking his two dogs, Polly and Penny, in the area. But he did express his frustration with mounting crime and harassment by some in the community.
According to court records, police seized 16 guns from Spooner's house in December 2006. According to his handwritten form to reclaim them, the guns were taken because a felon had been a guest at Spooner's house.
The guns included eight rifles, four shotguns and four handguns. A judge ordered them returned to Spooner in April 2007.
At the crime scene Thursday, detectives recovered two .32 caliber shell casings, one from the porch of Darius' house and one from the grass next to it. There were two rounds still in the gun, including one in the chamber with strike mark, suggesting the gun had misfired on an attempted third shot