ATLANTA - Police need to talk to a man seen in surveillance video sitting with the former Atlanta Housing Authority executive who was gunned down outside his home in southwest Atlanta Saturday.
Atlanta Police released a picture from that video on Monday afternoon during a press conference. Investigators believe he may have been one of the last people to see Barney Simms alive. The images were captured at a Waffle House near Simm's Connally Drive home.
Family members, Emmanuel and Justina Dix said they don't recognize the man in the photo, but they're hoping police figure out who he is soon.
“He spent time with Barney and it would be nice of him to come forward and tell us what happened,” says Justina Dix.
Dix said the entire family is still in shock about what happened, and they're struggling to figure out who would do it.
“Whoever did this needs to be caught, it's awful to take away a man who is loved by so many,” said Dix.
The 70-year-old man was found dead in the front yard. Police said his Lexus was missing and the front door of his home was open. That same Lexus was recovered Sunday by East Point Police.
Family friends and community members, including former Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin, gathered outside his home Saturday evening, waiting for answers while investigators searched for evidence.
Simms was well-known in the Atlanta area with ties to numerous community organizations including Chairman for the Fulton County Department of Family and Children Services, Co-Chairman of the Board for the Walter and Andrew Young Family YMCA in southwest Atlanta and the Antioch Urban Ministries.
"People of that kind of ability to sit high and still touch all around them are unique and uniquely positioned to do so much good," said Atlanta City Councilman Andre Dickens who is also a deacon at Antioch Baptist Church North where Simms attended for more than 45 years. "That is what he did with his talents and all his relationships is to draw people near and get them to be helpful."
Church members at Antioch Baptist Church North remembered Simms Sunday during their service.
"Just a guy you look up to," said Michael A. Jackson who sat behind Simms at church. "I am 58 years old, he is 70, he is the kind of man I want to be as I grow older."
Simms also served as Chairman of the Board for Atlanta Victim Assistance.
"I hope that this unfortunate senseless murder is a clarion call to the citizens of Atlanta that we need to get more involved in stopping the violence in our community," said Brenda Mohammad, Director of Atlanta Victim Assistance.
A statement has been released from Atlanta City Council member Keisha Lance Bottoms:
“I am simply heartbroken by the senseless killing of Barney Simms. As an active and gracious leader of the Bonnybrook community, there was no task, too big or too small, that he engaged in to make his neighborhood, and city, a better place. From donning t-shirts and jeans to pick up trash and cut brush alongside his neighbors, to wearing the finest suit to meet with leaders who could be held accountable for change, he epitomized the active engagement and leadership we wish for in all of our neighborhoods. Southwest Atlanta has truly lost a pillar of this community.