By Jeff Todd
BOULDER, Colo. (CBS4)– Friends of the discharged marine killed by police on the CU campus on Wednesday say they were shocked to hear the news.
“Brandon was a standup guy, always the guy that would bring smiles to people’s faces, telling jokes in the worst of situations,” said Robert Gildea.
Gildea met Brandon Simmons while on tour in Iraq. The two became friends and spent time together at Camp Pendleton. They reunited when Simmons came to Colorado a few months ago.
“He was an outstanding Marine, most devoted Marine, he lived for the Marine Corp,” said Chase Cain, another former Marine and friend of Simmons. “Every moment I was around Brandon he would express how much he loved his kids and missed them.”
After serving 10 years Simmons was discharged from the Marine Corp in May. Gildea told CBS 4 Simmons reunited with his biological father and moved to his home in Westminster.
“From my impressions of Brandon, he was struggling to adjust to civilian life and finding his way,” Cain said.
“The Marine Corp kind of crumpled him up like a piece of paper and threw him away. Maybe he lost a piece of his family you know,” said Gildea. “I wish I could have seen some signs maybe could have been there a little bit more. I don’t know it’s just devastating. I feel like there’s a little guilt on my end, I mean one more phone call or one more day hanging out.”
Gildea and Cain invited Simmons to a family night at the Adams County Fair just a few weeks ago. They said the guy they spent time with that night wasn’t capable of what police said happened this week.
“He carried my daughter around on his shoulders for hours at the Adams County Fair. Nothing really adds up,” Cain said.
“Not having a job, he spent the last dollars he had at the moment to make sure my kids and my niece had a stuffed animal,” Gildea said.
On Wednesday, police say Simmons began threatening someone in the parking lot of the new Champions Center on the CU campus, a building that houses sports medicine doctors’ offices. Simmons allegedly followed a patient into the building with a machete. He encountered police in a stairwell.
Police say Simmons didn’t obey orders to drop the weapon. He was shot and killed by officers from both the CU Police Department and Boulder Police Department.
“It’s just so out of character for Brandon,” Gildea said. “Telling someone to put a weapon down, and then they don’t and then shooting them is just unjustified to me. It’s really sickening being a pro-police officer type of guy and seeing something like this happen to a buddy.”
Jeff Todd joined the CBS4 team in 2011 covering the Western Slope in the Mountain Newsroom. Since 2015 he’s been working across the Front Range in the Denver Headquarters. Follow him on Twitter @CBS4Jeff.