Candlelight vigil for murdered community leader

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A large crowd gathered Tuesday night at a street corner in Southwest Atlanta for a candlelight vigil for slain community leader Barney Simms.

Emotions flowed and love poured out from local ministers to support the sole family member present.

"Just continue to pray for us cause we're still kind of confused and shocked. Pray for the family, even pray for who did this. There's no anger," said Natalie Quiller-Jones, who identified herself as Simm's daughter.

Simms was shot to death in the front yard of his Southwest Atlanta home Saturday afternoon. The front door was open. His black Lexus was gone. It was recovered the next day in East Point.

Police said prior to the murder, Simms ate at the Waffle House on Virginia Avenue with a young African American man. Police also released video of Simms and the young man, who police said is a person of interest, and perhaps the last person to see Simms alive.

"We have got numerous tips, very positive leads. Homicide investigators are working those now," said Sergeant W. Pickard with the Atlanta Police Department.

Several Atlanta City Council members were also present, including Keisha Lance Bottoms, Mary Norwood and Kwanza Hall.

"I'm sure we're going to find the culprits. The mayor, all my colleagues on council, we want to see this person brought to justice," said Hall.

Fulton County Commission Chair John Eaves also addressed the crowd.

"I want you to know I hurt like you hurt because he was a friend and an advocate for our community," said Eaves to the crowd.

The 70-year-old was a prominent community leader, and a retired executive at the Atlanta Housing Authority. He served on numerous boards, including the YMCA and DFACs.

The Southwest Atlanta neighborhood where the vigil was held was his long-time home. He was a member of the Bonny Brook Estates Neighborhood Association.

The vigil was organized by the association on the second Tuesday of the month, the same night Simms would regularly lead a monthly meeting.

"I'd just like for them to remember Barney as being the leader that everybody wouldn't mind following," said Gloria Leonard, with the Bonny Brook Estates Neighborhood Association.

Atlanta Police are offering a $5,000 Crime Stoppers reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction of the person responsible for the murder.

Anyone with information is asked to call 404-577-TIPS.