Hamilton pastor’s brother latest shooting victim in deadly year

Police say Simmons’ death was a targeted crime.

Deadly year in Hamilton

There have been eight fatal shootings in Hamilton since the first of the year. In addition, there was one officer-involved fatal shooting in 2016. They include:

Jan. 13: Christopher Sandle

Jan. 15: Robert Goens

March 11: Jaylon Alexander Knight

July 24: Kalif Goens

Aug. 3: Todd Berus and Orlando Gilbert

Aug. 22: Kelley Forte (Officer-involved shooting; Officer was cleared by Butler County Grand Jury)

Sept. 7: Timothy Dugan

Sept. 16: Calvin Simmons Jr.

SOURCE: Journal-News archives

In a year of deadly shootings, Hamilton pastor Shaquila Mathews has pleaded for peace, promoted better relations with police and comforted grieving families.

On Friday, the woman called Pastor Shaq needed the support of the community when her brother, 37-year-old Calvin “CJ” Simmons Jr., was shot and killed.

Simmons is the eighth person fatally shot in the city in 2016 and the second shooting victim in Hamilton this month.

Several pastors and community members were shaken by Simmons’ death and were quick to reach out to Mathews and her family.

“There’s a lack of value on human life,” Pastor Mike Pearl of Hamilton said. “We have to do what we can to show people, everybody, that they have tremendous value and so does our neighbor. We have to embrace each other instead of erasing each other.”

The recent shooting deaths are not a reflection of Hamilton and are happening in cities across the country, Pearl said.

Simmons was found unresponsive with a gunshot wound to his stomach at his home about 3:45 a.m. in the 2200 block of University Boulevard. He was transported to Fort Hamilton Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

Mid-morning Friday, police spokesman Sgt. Brian Robinson said investigators were actively involved with the investigation. He also said police were stressing this was not a random act and it is believed that Simmons had been targeted. No arrests had been made as of Friday evening.

Mathews, pastor at Truth & Life Church, told the Journal-News that she is appreciative of the prayers and concerns for her family that have been shared by many after her brother’s death.

Former city councilman and pastor Archie Johnson said Simmons was well-liked in Hamilton and that clergy have been appreciative of Mathews’ outreach to help a part of the community that faces uphill challenges.

“Pastor Shaq is reaching those that are tough to reach in the community,” Johnson said. “A lot of folks from talking to them today are really surprised and hurt by CJ’s passing … But I know that he has always been respected and people liked him.”

A frantic woman called 911 early Friday morning to report that Simmons had been shot in his Hamilton residence.

In the more than 7 1/2-minute 911 call, the woman told dispatchers that two men came through the back door, one of the men was in all black clothing, wearing a black hoodie, wearing latex gloves, jewelry and a mask from a Scream movie.

Dispatchers tried to calm the woman and asked her often to check if Simmons was still breathing. The woman said the other man was wearing a black hoodie and wearing black gloves and jewelry. She said one of the men put a gun in her mouth and threatened her.

The Butler County Coroner’s Office ruled the fatal shooting as a homicide with the primary cause of death as a gunshot wound. The coroner reported an autopsy was conducted.

Hamilton police Chief Craig Bucheit has spoken with Simmons’ family and said, “They are devastated by this loss.

“I have pledged our full efforts at finding those responsible and at continuing our work on ending the violence that has claimed the lives of too many young men in the 2nd and 4th wards.”

Bucheit added, “Tragically, but not surprisingly, this latest shooting death, like many before it, is tied to a culture of violence rooted in guns, gangs, and drugs. The solution to this violence, in part, must address the underlying issues that perpetuate this culture.”

In addition to the eight homicides this year, one other fatal shooting involved a police officer who was later cleared by the Butler County grand jury. The person shot had held a knife to the throat of a pharmacist during a robbery attempt.

According to annual reports available on the Hamilton police website for 2010, 2012 and 2013, it reported:

2013: 7 criminal homicides; 22 assaults with firearms.

2012: 4 criminal homicides; 25 assaults with firearms.

2010: 2 criminal homicides; 13 assaults with firearms.

Information for 2011, 2014 and 2015 were not available online. A public records request has been made for other statistics but were not readily available on Friday.

The Investigations Division is asking if anyone has any information about Simmons’ death to call 513-868-5811 ext 2002.

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