Falling off the rocker...

July 14th, 2002 • 3 min read #Journal

I don't know whether to feel sad or to laugh at this story:

"PASADENA -- An eccentric ex-engineer known for wearing tutus and turbans around town, Ed Simmons appears unable to hurt a fly. The frail 91-year-old has for years haunted City Hall and other government offices, claiming he's the victim of various acts of fraud and conspiracy. "

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Published: Saturday, July 13, 2002, Pasadena Star News

Simmons more than a nuisance?

By Elizabeth Lee Staff Writer

PASADENA -- An eccentric ex-engineer known for wearing tutus and turbans around town, Ed Simmons appears unable to hurt a fly. The frail 91-year-old has for years haunted City Hall and other government offices, claiming he's the victim of various acts of fraud and conspiracy. But Simmons' visits once considered merely nuisances by city employees have turned into frightening encounters in the last two weeks, Pasadena Police say.

Police arrested Simmons at the Pasadena Water and Power offices Wednesday after he allegedly yelled racial epithets at employees.

The slipper-clad Simmons then tried to kick out the rear windows of a squad car, according to Lt. Randell Taylor.

Police say Simmons, a former Caltech student and successful inventor, has prompted increasingly frequent calls to the department.

"It's almost daily now that we get calls from city workers, either the city clerk's office (or) some building where he goes in and harasses the workers," including other instances where he allegedly shouted racial epithets, Taylor said. "(It's) to the point where city employees are seeking restraining orders to keep him from going in there. He's gotten out of control."

Simmons was charged with four counts of a trespassing-related offense, and six counts of using offensive words in public that are "likely to provoke an immediate violent reaction," as defined by the penal code. Deputy Public Defender Allison Drew entered a plea of not guilty at Simmons' arraignment Friday at Pasadena Superior Court.

Judge Barbara Burke ordered that Simmons be held for 72 hours at a facility where officials can evaluate his mental condition.

They will determine whether the Pasadena resident is competent to go through the judicial process.

Simmons said nothing during Friday's court appearance, sitting impassively in a black skirt, white slippers and purple blouse.

He's hard of hearing, and when Burke called his name, he stared straight ahead and didn't answer.

Three members of a city mental health outreach team, a police officer, social worker and nurse, watched from the gallery.

Officer Robert Hoyt said afterward that Simmons also needs a medical evaluation. He suffers from macular degeneration, which has diminished his eyesight, and Hoyt worries about his poor diet. But he has refused help before.

Simmons was originally booked on hate crime charges, including one felony, according to Hoyt. But the D.A.'s office filed only misdemeanors, because he doesn't appear to pose a serious threat.

"The issue is, is he a credible threat? As a felony, no ... right now, his biggest weapon is his mouth," Hoyt said.

City spokeswoman Ann Erdman said many employees, especially former Assistant City Manager Prentice Deadrick, tried to talk to Simmons and help him sort out his problems. Sometimes Simmons would turn his anger on them.

"It's unfortunate," Erdman said. "It has been escalating in the past several months and his behavior in city offices with employees has gotten more and more out of control, to the point where security has had to be called because people feel threatened."

-- Elizabeth Lee can be reached at (626) 578-6300, Ext. 4461, or by e-mail at elizabeth.leesgvn.com.

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