Family, friends mourn death of 12-year-old boy

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Less than 24-hours after an accident took the life of 12-year-old Jerry Simmons, the sad reality is settling in with friends and family. Biloxi Police are still investigating, but all indications point to an accidental shooting.

Neighbors at the Biloxi Shore Apartments on Eisenhower Drive held a vigil in his honor Friday night. Teddy Bears, candles and other mementos are signs of a neighborhood in mourning.

Seven-year-old Emmanuel Salazar said Jerry Simmons was one of his best friends.

"He was a one of a kind friend that anyone could ever have," Salazar remembered. "Like they said, he brought joy no matter what he did."

Simmons' death is taking quite the toll on him and the many others left behind.

"He was a good hearted person," said the victim's uncle, Steve Hopson. "If anyone knew him, he could make you smile. He would make friends with anyone."

Residents at Biloxi Shore said on a sunny day like Friday, their pool would normally be filled with children. And the fact that it's empty is a sign of the grief that has struck the close-knit complex.

To help ease the overwhelming grief, property management decided to spearhead a candlelight vigil Friday evening, where they will also try to raise money to cover funeral expenses.

"We all decided that we wanted to do a benefit for him to help raise money for the family, because they didn't have insurance. Us here at Biloxi Shore, we all love each other and we want to help each other," said Property Manager Connie Pratt.

"We need the help. No church, I mean we've been to churches, we've been to other places and nobody is willing to set up this fund. So we need any organization out there that's willing to help," William Letarte said.

The neighbors also hope to sponsor various gun-awareness events to prevent anyone else from experiencing the pain they now feel.

"There's too many kids dying out here behind guns. They were just out here with a football and five minutes later they're shot. It's just not right," Katrina Wallace said.

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