Outpouring of respect, donations continues for Simmons, his family

Sunday, March 2, 2008 @ 01:03 PM Author:
Outpouring of respect, donations continues for Simmons, his family Slain SWAT officer prized as Fairfax grad Lisa Simmons Speaks at Fairfax High Angelenos on Saturday honored slain Los Angeles Police Department Officer Randal Simmons, with high schoolers from his alma mater dedicating a baseball season to him while others washed cars to raise money for his family.Fairfax High School’s baseball team dedicated its 2008 season to the officer in a midmorning ceremony. Simmons, a SWAT team member who was killed during a shootout with an armed man in Winnetka last month, graduated from the school in 1974. With a smile, Lisa Simmons accepted a glass plaque in her late husband’s honor, telling the assembled baseball players, fans and families about his fondness for the campus. “This was my husband’s school. He loved Fairfax,” she said, clutching the plaque. “I know he’s looking down, smiling.” The widow of the former cop, who doubled as a minister, said her husband would have told the kids to stay in school and stay off drugs. “God wants you to have a good life,” she said. “That’s what you were designed for.” She grinned and called out the school’s pregame battle cry: “Fairfax, you ready?” The players responded: “You know!” As they left the field to the sound of applause, Simmons’ 15-year-old son, Matthew, said his father had come back to visit Fairfax High School about a year ago. “He said it’s beautiful now,” Matthew Simmons said. “He would be happy.” At Reseda High School, about 80 kids in the Police Academy Magnet program braved the cool, cloudy weather and hosed down hundreds of cars, collecting money that would go to help the family Simmons left behind.The magnet program puts students on track for careers in law enforcement. Several of the kids who were there washing and vacuuming cars – for $5 to $7 a pop – had attended Simmons’ funeral. “I cried. It was a very gloomy day,” said Amanda Lillard, a 17-year-old senior. “When you hear that – someone risking their life to save another – you want to go. … His legacy will live on forever. He’s a hero.” Simmons and his partner, Officer James Veenstra, were shot Feb. 7 during a gunbattle that ended an 11-hour standoff. It began after 20-year-old Edwin Garcia killed three family members and told police to “come get me.” Simmons was the first LAPD Special Weapons and Tactics officer killed in the line of duty. Veenstra was seriously wounded but was released from the hospital to attend his partner’s funeral. An LAPD sniper killed Garcia as he fled from his family’s house, which caught fire after police fired flash-bang grenades inside to smoke him out. On Saturday, several other groups also put on fundraising events to benefit the officers. The San Fernando Valley Jaycees held a pizza benefit at California Pizza Kitchen. Niko’s Pizzeria in San Pedro said it would donate 50 percent of the restaurant’s Saturday sales proceeds to Simmons’ widow and two children. Two weeks ago, owners of a Burger King near downtown Los Angeles raised $75,000 for the family. And today, 30 LAPD officers will run in the Los Angeles Marathon in honor of Simmons. “It’s comforting, having all the outpouring of love,” Lisa Simmons said. “We can’t mourn his death. We have to celebrate his 51 years of life.”

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One Response to “Outpouring of respect, donations continues for Simmons, his family”

  1. Sean Collins Sr. says:

    I love this picture because you are all smiling. This is a good road to healing and great trip for rememberance.