BOULDER, Colo. – The University of Colorado Police Department named the two officers involved in the fatal shooting of a man wielding a machete on campus Wednesday as it came to light the man was a former Marine.
Brandon Simmons, 28, of Thornton, allegedly threatened a sports medicine patient with a machete at CU-Boulder Wednesday before police confronted him and eventually shot him dead.
Friends of Simmons’ on Friday told Denver7 he was a former Marine who was discharged earlier this year after around a decade of service. Simmons had two children and an ex-wife, who all live in California, where Simmons used to be stationed.
Friends say he recently moved in with his father in Thornton after the divorce.
Simmons had been a drill instructor during his time in the Marines. A friend of his said he was the "epitome" of what a good drill instructor should be and called the incident and Simmons' death "shocking."
Friends say he was always upbeat and the life of the party.
"He could light up the whole room. He had such a positive outlook on everything," said former friend, Chase Cain.
A photo of Simmons posted to Facebook publicly by a friend shows Simmons in his Marines dress uniform, with sergeant bars on his sleeve.
But the Boulder Daily Camera reports Marines officials say he was discharged from the service as a lance corporal, which is two ranks below sergeant. It also reported he said he was "looking for sinners" before he was shot.
The military spokesman the Daily Camera talked to said he couldn’t disclose the reason for Simmons’ discharge or the lower ranking, only saying “the character of his service was incongruent with Marine Corps’ expectations and standards.”
Numerous attempts to confirm those details made by Denver7 have so far returned no response from the Marines Corps.
CUPD named the officers involved in Simmons’ shooting as CUPD Officer Clay Austin and Boulder Police Department Officer Jason Connor.
Austin has been with CUPD for nearly four years, and Connor is a three-year veteran of BPD, according to CUPD spokesman Scott Pribble. Both are on paid administrative leave during the investigation, which is standard protocol during an officer-involved shooting.
Pribble said 14 CUPD officers and nine BPD officers responded to the scene Wednesday morning. Simmons was shot after he allegedly failed to comply with officers’ commands to drop his weapon, then allegedly advanced toward them, police said.
The Boulder County Investigation Team continues to look into the incident and is looking for any witnesses who have yet to talk with police. If you were involved in the incident, contact the Boulder County Sheriff’s Office at 303-441-4917.