The Boston Marathon bombing trial has captured the interest of many people, and there’s one Randolph family that’s watching very closely.
That’s because they believe their son is the fifth victim of the attacks.
DJ Simmonds was planning for the future, studying for the police sergeant’s exam and buying a house, when he died suddenly after passing out at the Police Academy.
His parents say it was not his time to go.
“He continued to see flashes of light. Apparently when the pipe bombs went off that’s what they were seeing; a flash,” DJ’s dad Dennis Simmonds Sr. said.
With his Boston Police badge close to his chest, Officer Dennis Simmonds Jr., known by friends and family as DJ, found himself in the middle of the Watertown shoot-out with the Tsarnaev brothers.
“During the firefight, two explosives were thrown in his direction. He lost his footing, fell, injured his back and hand. On the way to the hospital his vision was blurry,” DJ’s mother Roxanne Simmonds said.
He survived, but his parents said he wasn’t the same.
“He had pretty severe headaches, ringing in his ears, just a really difficult time sleeping at night,” Roxanne said.
Years before, while growing up in Randolph, DJ was fearless.
He was a protector, guarding and looking out for his younger sister, caring for friends and family always. So it only seemed natural that he felt destined to become a police officer.
“When you ask when did he want to become a police officer? I want to say the day he was born because I can’t think of any other career he talked about ever,” Roxanne said.
He studied criminal justice at Lasell College and began his life in law enforcement.
But after getting hurt in Watertown he took a leave of absence from the force to recover.
“He actually loved the job so much that he was really fearful that he wouldn’t be able to come back when the initial injury happened,” Dennis Sr. said.
He eventually did return to work and the BPD recognized him with its highest award for bravery. President Obama planned to honor him as well, but nearly a year after the marathon bombings Simmonds passed out at the police academy.
“At that point hopped on a flight immediately,” his parents said. “He was gone by the time we landed.”
DJ Simmonds was 28 years old.
“I know in my heart that those injuries caused his death. I know that in my heart,” Roxanne said.
Most people know of the first four victims, Krystle Campbell, Martin Richard and Lingzi Lu during the blasts and Officer Sean Collier the night of the shootout.
“We believe he’s the fifth victim, and as a parent we’re gonna fight to make sure he’s not forgotten,” Roxanne said.
“What I would like to see in terms of justice is for every community to come out in support of the officers,” Dennis Sr. said.
That’s what they’ve done.
Their son never made it to the White House to pick up his “Top Cop” award, but they did.
And Dennis Sr. wore the Boston Police badge that DJ wore with such honor around his neck.
“It kind of gave us a way of bringing DJ with us,” Roxanne said.
The Simmonds family and DJ’s alma mater, Lasell College have started a scholarship in his memory.
It will help students studying criminal justice.
They’ve already held one fundraiser, a charitable basketball game, and have a gala on the horizon.
Bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev faces 30 charges for his alleged actions during the Boston marathon bombing and the Watertown shoot-out that followed.
He is not charged with Simmond’s death.