Chest Township man charged with homicide in shooting death of wife

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Feb. 24—PATTON, Pa. — A Chest Township man has been charged with criminal homicide and related counts in the shooting death of his wife Thursday, according to a Pennsylvania State Police affidavit.

William E. Simmons, 69, allegedly opened fire on Rebecca A. Simmons, 66, after an argument in which she allegedly said she was leaving him, police wrote.

The incident took place on the 300 block of Grozanick Road, near Patton, and Pennsylvania State Police responded after 3 p.m. when the 911 call came in.

"Rebecca Anne Simmons had called Cambria County 911 ... and informed them that her husband, William Edward Simmons, had shot her in the back and she was dying and that she needed help," the affidavit said.

State police allege that William Simmons admitted in an interview that during the argument with his wife, he used a 12-gauge single-shot shotgun to shoot Rebecca Simmons.

After the first shot, authorities said the woman retreated to the furnace room of the house and shut the door.

Williams Simmons attempted to gain access to the room, authorities wrote, and when he couldn't because the woman was holding it shut, he fired into the middle of the door with the shotgun.

Upon opening the door, William Simmons saw his wife lying on the floor with the house phone next to her — he presumed her deceased.

Cambria County Coroner Jeffrey Lees said in a release that Rebecca Simmons was pronounced dead at the scene, and an autopsy was performed Friday that confirmed she died from two gunshot wounds to the lower torso.

He ruled the manner of death as homicide.

Once William Simmons entered the furnace room, he reportedly could be heard on the phone call by 911 operators saying he was going to shoot himself.

State police called the suspect back and spoke to him, and he allegedly said "everything was fine" and that he "had just shot and killed his wife."

When state police arrived, they found William Simmons on the front porch of the home where he was taken into custody without incident and transported to the PSP Ebensburg barracks where the interview was conducted.

During that conversation, he told officers that before they arrived, he had picked up the telephone and called his daughter to let her know about the incident.

William Simmons has been charged with criminal homicide and two counts of aggravated assault.

Court documents show he was arraigned Thursday by District Magistrate Brian Subich, and has a preliminary hearing scheduled for March 5 in front of District Magistrate Michael Zungali.

Bail was denied, and Simmons remains in Cambria County Prison, according to court records.

The state police forensic services unit, major case team from troop headquarters, CARS unit, Cambria County Coroner's Office and Cambria County District Attorney's Office responded to the scene.