Police hopeful in Clay murder investigation

By on October 1, 2014

Police continue to investigate the armed home invasion late Thursday in Clay Township where masked shooters killed a 23-year old man and wounded his father.

Brett J. Simmons, a 2009 Ephrata High School graduate, was killed at the family’s residence at 580 Clearview Road. His father James A. Simmons remains hospitalized from a gunshot wound.Simmons Brett
The bold attack — in which Brett Simmons was shot at least once with an undisclosed weapon —that occurred less than a mile from the Northern Regional Police station has unnerved residents in the rural township.

Northern Lancaster County Regional police Chief David Steffen and Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman have offered differing views on the case.
While Stedman indicated the shootings were planned, Steffen was noncommital when asked about it.

“We don’t in this particular case feel that there is any indication that the threat to the community was not from a preplanned perspective,” Steffen said.
“There’s no elements that we have identified that indicate that it was a purely random event. But there’s nothing that indicates it was a targeted event 100 percent at this time either.”

While it is “yet to be determined” what initiated the home invasion murder, it appears investigators are working on promising leads. Still, police have disclosed little about the shooting, including the weapons and caliber of the guns used.

Steffen would not speculate about a motive.
“What motivates people to do specific things we can’t state at this point,” he said.

However, Steffen was optimistic that evidence collected would solve the case.

“But we’re closing in on some of those details and hopefully we’ll have some answers to that at a point down the road,” he said. “But at this point that would be merely conjecture on our part because we don’t have suspects in custody.”

(SEE VIDEO INTERVIEW with Northern Lancaster County Regional police Chief David Steffen on The Ephrata Review Facebook page.)

In a phone interview from the hospital with a Lancaster Intelligencer Journal reporter, James Simmons suggested the intruders knew where to go in the home. He also suggested that police know who they’re looking for though he did not know the intruders.

Simmons presumed the intruders, who entered the home through the garage at about 11:05 p.m. on Sept. 25, thought Brett had money, according to the report.

The father opened his bedroom door to investigate and noticed men wearing hoodies and some sort of make-shift masks coming out of Brett’s room. James Simmons said he tried to grab one of them coming down the hall.

“I didn’t have a chance to say, ‘What the hell are you doing in my house?'” before a second man appeared behind the first, raised a gun and shot him in the chest, Simmons told the reporter.

The two shooters are believed to be white or light-skinned males. Police described the intruders as a young adult male, between 5’9″ and 5’11”, with an average build; the other is a young adult male with dark eyes, blonde hair, about 5’9″ and of average build.

Lancaster City/County Crime Stoppers is offering a reward up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and/or conviction of the people responsible for killing Simmons.

Patrick Burns is a staff writer for The Ephrata Review. He welcomes your questions and comments and can be reached at pburns.eph@lnpnews.com or at 721-4455

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