Ex-Cougar Simmons mourned

Saturday, February 9, 2008 @ 10:02 AM Author:

Saturday, February 9, 2008 Last updated 12:17 a.m. PT

Ex-Cougar Simmons mourned

L.A. police officer killed in line of duty ‘a hell of a human being’


For the Washington State football team, a trip to Los Angeles usually meant a visit with a well-liked former Cougars cornerback, Randal Simmons. Simmons would arrive at the practice field the day before a game, as often as not stopping in at the end of his shift still wearing his Los Angeles Police Department uniform. He’d swap stories with former teammate and offensive coordinator Mike Levenseller, and check in on his team. Even 29 years after leaving Pullman for L.A., Simmons “kept his Cougar roots close,” Levenseller said Friday.

Now, those Cougs who knew him are grieving. Simmons, 51, was shot to death Thursday during a hostage rescue. “It’s a sad day for those of us who were around him,” Levenseller said. “He was just a hell of a human being.” Simmons, a 27-year veteran of the LAPD, was killed as he and other members of the department’s SWAT team moved in on a San Fernando Valley home where a gunman had killed his family, the Los Angeles Times reported Friday. The team, on which Simmons had served for two decades, had arrived at the house after the barricaded man shot several of his family members hoping to rescue survivors.

The gunman, Edwin Rivera, 20, was shot and killed by a police sniper after the man killed his father, Gerardo, 54, and two of his brothers, Edgar, 21, and Andy, 25. Another SWAT officer was seriously wounded in the raid.

Raised in the Los Angeles area, Simmons walked on to the Cougars squad in 1976. After a slow start with the team, he earned a starting spot his senior year. “He was the strongest guy on the team,” said Steve Swift, a defensive tackle who now owns a machine shop in Kent. “He was just a muscle.” In a weight room challenge his senior year, the 190-pound Simmons beat out teammates who outweighed him by more than 100 pounds, including Swift. Off the field, Simmons took his studies seriously, and stayed out of trouble, said Jeff Jones, a former Cougars middle linebacker. “He was very soft-spoken, just a very nice man,” Jones said. After college, Simmons tried out for the Dallas Cowboys but was knocked out of contention by an injury.

Unable to continue playing, he decided to put his education to work and joined the LAPD. On the force, Simmons drew some of the department’s toughest assignments. He was shot while working in the Watts neighborhood in the 1980s, then took a promotion to the SWAT team. After hours, Simmons devoted much of his time to youth ministry at his church, Glory Christian Fellowship International in Carson, James Hart, his SWAT partner of seven years, told the Los Angeles Times. Speaking to the Times, Hart recalled conducting patrols in a neighborhood where Simmons was working with area children. “It was amazing, they would see him, and all these kids would just light up and yell, ‘Randy! Randy!’ ” Hart said. Simmons is survived by his wife of 20 years, Lisa, his two children, ages 15 and 13, his parents and other family members.

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