Dwane Simmons family, coach speak out after shooters arrest, thankful for ‘justice’

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TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT)– A family now has their questions answered as to who killed their son Dwane Simmons.

On Friday, an 18-year-old Topeka man was arrested and charged for killing Dwane.

Prosecutors said the man responsible for pulling the trigger that night was 18-year-old Francisco Mendez.

Dwane, a Washburn University student and football player, was shot and killed during a party in April.

Dwane’s best friend and teammate Corey Ballentine was also shot, but he survived.

Mendez is now facing murder charges and is in the Shawnee County Jail, with a bond set at a million dollars.

“You took away a wonderful young man,” said Navarro Simmons, Dwane’s dad. “Dwane was a good person. So, we still continue to pray for you, but we hope that justice is served and you get exactly what’s coming to you.”

Justice for Dwane is all his parents wanted, after a three-month search for the shooter is finally over.

“Wish he was here,” said Navarro. “I feel like he knows that.”

After feeling like this may have been another forgotten case, Dwane’s stepmom, Yasmine Simmons, said Dwane kept giving her signs it wasn’t over.

“When it looked like justice wouldn’t be served,” Yasmine said. “When it looked like the case was going to go cold. When it looked like nobody was paying attention, he kept coming to us and saying to us justice will be served.”

While the Washburn Football team will miss one of their own, their coach, Craig Schurig, is relieved Dwane’s family has gotten the answers they were desperate for.

“It lifted a little weight off your chest,” Schurig said. “To hear them say that they felt some justice served, that’s a big relief. Cause that’s who your heart goes out to. His family. He was such a neat kid, and brought a lot of smiles to our faces.”

Recognizing the hard work the Topeka Police Department put in finding justice for Dwane.

“I just want to thank them just for being diligent, being determined to get this case closed,” Navarro said.

Knowing Dwane will always be in people’s hearts.

“Keep Dwane’s memory alive,” Navarro said. “He was a good kid. He didn’t deserve this.”

Schurig said this year at every game, one of the players will wear Dwane’s number in his honor.

Dwane will also be honored during this year’s senior night.

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