Police name suspect in killing of gay civic leader

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UPDATE | Police arrest alleged killer of Barney Simms

Atlanta police are on the hunt for a 17-year-old they say is suspected of gunning down and killing gay civic leader Barney Simms in the front yard of his southwest Atlanta home on Saturday. 

On Thursday morning, Atlanta police announced they were charging Eric Banks with the killing.

A warrant has been secured for 17 yr old Eric Banks, B/M, for the murder of Mr. Barney Simms on April 9th. He should be considered armed and dangerous. If you know his location, please call 911 ASAP.

An Atlanta police spokesperson could not say if Banks is the man who shared a meal with Simms at a Virginia Avenue Waffle House a short time before he was killed. On Monday, homicide investigators released surveillance footage that showed Simms and the man walking in the restaurant and asked for the public's help to identify him.

Simms, 70, was a former executive with the Atlanta Housing Authority and served on several city-related boards and commissions as well as neighborhood and civic groups.

When Simms was killed, the front door to his home was open and his black Lexus – found early Sunday morning in neighboring East Point – was missing. Lt. Charles Hampton, an Atlanta police homicide investigator, would not say during a press conference on Tuesday what motivated the homicide or if the person that killed Simms had been inside the home.

“I am not going to speculate on that,” he said. “We still haven't verified a motive or anything so it could be robbery, it could be anything.”

Simms' killing prompted an outpouring of grief from public officials, community activists and church members who knew or worked with Simms. LGBT activists and elected officials called his death “devastating.”

A vigil was held for Simms outside his Connally Drive home on Tuesday.


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