A pair of glasses knocked from the shooter’s face, a deluge of tips from the community and a sleepless 24 hours for Baton Rouge law enforcement officers led to a prompt arrest in the Friday morning fatal shooting of LSU basketball star Wayde Sims.
Sims, 20, was killed after stepping in to a fistfight to defend his friend outside a fraternity party just off Southern University’s campus, Baton Rouge police have said. Investigators now say 20-year-old Dyteon Simpson, of Baker, pulled the trigger, shooting Sims in the head just hours before what would have been Sims’ first official practice of his junior year.
The shooting happened near a Subway restaurant in the 600 block of Harding Boulevard. An autopsy Friday determined he died of a gunshot to the head that traveled into his neck, said East Baton Rouge Coroner Dr. Beau Clark.
LSU basketball player Wayde Sims' funeral service has been set for Saturday, Oct. 6, in Baton Rouge.
Simpson was arrested on second-degree murder on Saturday morning and held on a $350,000 bond. Police had released a video of the fight on Friday, asking for help identifying the people involved. They received an “overwhelming” number of tips in response, Baton Rouge Police Chief Murphy Paul said.
Investigators zeroed in on Simpson after several tipsters identified him by his full name or his nickname. But a pair of glasses left on the scene provided investigators with DNA evidence.
The glasses, which witnesses said were knocked off of the shooter, had the murder suspect's DNA on them. Investigators processed the glasses at the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab soon after the shooting, but the DNA profile didn't match anything in their database.
Once they obtained a search warrant to take a DNA sample directly from Simpson, who had been named in the tips, they found it to be a match.
“In this particular case we received an overwhelming number of tips and assistance from the community to help solve this,” Paul said. “That’s what it’s going to take for us to continue to stop this violent culture that’s going on in this city.”
The tips really started rolling in after the department released a video showing about eight men fighting in the street. Two men, now identified as Sims and Simpson, break from the group before the shot is fired. Everyone else ran.
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After Simpson was arrested Saturday, he confessed to punching Sims’ friend and then intentionally shooting Sims, according to his arrest report.
It’s unclear to investigators if Simpson and Sims knew each other before the deadly interaction or what led to the initial fight.
One common denominator in many of the city’s homicides is “the lack of conflict resolution” among young men, Paul said.
“I believe in my heart that we’re dealing with a young generation of men that needs a change of heart,” Paul said. “And the only institutions that I know of that are in the heart business are faith and family. It starts at home.”
Simpson, of 4310 Burgess Dr. in Baker, has been booked into East Baton Rouge Parish Prison on a count of second-degree murder. Bond for Simpson has been set at $350,000, East Baton Rouge Parish District Attorney Hillar Moore III said, adding that the case will go to a grand jury since it involves second-degree murder.
"This case is a little unique in that we had video evidence, physical evidence, scientific evidence," Moore said. "You had all of the other people that were continuing to call. To me, that makes a big difference in the ability to solve cases."
Paul said they continue to investigate, including following up on leads and interviewing potential witnesses. He declined to comment on the number of participating witnesses.
Deputy Chief Robert McGarner said many of the detectives barely slept, if at all, during the roughly 24 hours that it took to make an arrest.
“That’s the price of doing business,” McGarner said. “We have a calling and that calling was to bring justice to the family and they did an outstanding job on it.”
Moore and Paul both touted local law enforcement agency’s rate of clearing homicides, especially in the summer months of July and August when East Baton Rouge Parish saw a relatively small number of killings. A lot of the arrests come from community involvement, Moore said.
“If we get a response for every homicide like we got in this one, I assure you that 60 percent clearance rate that we have will significantly go up because the response that we got from the community on this particular homicide was different,” Paul said. “Everybody wanted to help.”
Wayde Sims loved his school. He loved his hometown. He had, as his coach Will Wade reminded Friday, a Tiger tattoo on one bicep and a 225 tatt…
After Saturday’s arrest, memorials and tributes to Sims popped up across Baton Rouge: A basketball and flowers where he was killed, his photo across the video boards in Tiger Stadium and an anti-violence memorial held on Southern University’s campus before their homecoming football game.
Louisiana State University released a statement Saturday morning after the arrest, thanking all the law enforcement agencies that were involved for their “hard work, diligence and pursuit of justice.”
“Along with LSU Athletics, the entire LSU family continues to mourn the loss of Wayde Sims,” the statement read. “Our thoughts today are with his family, friends and teammates.”
A former standout at University High, Sims was entering his third season at LSU. A 6-foot-6 forward, he averaged 5.6 points and 2.6 rebounds per game this past season with 10 starts in 32 games. Sims was majoring in sports administration.
“This young man was loved by so many, with potential and what he represented,” Paul said. “A young athlete from the community, playing at our great university. I think we all looked forward to him playing in the NBA.”