Will Sims: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

Authorities say a talented Bay Area pianist and musician was murdered because he was black and was left to die in a roadway.

Daniel Porter-Kelly, 31, is accused of murder, robbery, and a hate crime in the slaying of Will Sims, 28, who was described by those who knew him as a gentle person with a gift for music.

As of November 23, police were seeking two other men in connection with beating and shooting of Sims on November 12. They identified Porter-Kelly’s alleged accomplices as Ray Simons and Daniel Ortega. The men were believed to be armed and dangerous, said the San Francisco Chronicle.

The men are white; Sims was African-American.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Police Say Sims Was Jumped & Robbed at a Pool Hall

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, authorities say that Sims was jumped inside a pool hall called the Capri Club in El Sobrante, California.

The Sheriff’s Department says he was robbed. He was then beaten and shot, police say. Police have not released why they believe that Sims was targeted because of his race; they attached a hate crime enhancement to the charges.

The Costa County Sheriff’s press release says, “On Saturday, November 12, 2016, at about 2:11 a.m., a Sheriff’s Office Sergeant discovered William Sims lying in the roadway in the area of Appian Way and Garden Lane in El Sobrante. Sims had been beaten and shot and was pronounced deceased at the scene. Sims was 28-years-old and was from Richmond, where he was a musician and worked in retail. He had no gang ties and no criminal history.”

Some on Twitter have criticized the media for reporting that Sims had no criminal history. That information came from authorities.

2. Sims Was a Musician & Accomplished Pianist

The East Bay Times described Sims as “a retail worker and musician.”

The newspaper said that a sheriff’s deputy found Sims lying dead in the road. Police have asked those with tips to contact the Office of the Sheriff at (925) 646-2441.

According to The San Francisco Chronicle, Sims’ sister, Stacey, said: “He loved music. He loved making friends. He was the best brother a sister could ever have. It’s been very difficult. It still seems unreal.”

Sims played in an award-winning university jazz group, the newspaper said, adding that Sims was described as charismatic and kind.

3. Sims Was Remembered as a Gentle Soul With a Great Singing Voice

Friends of Sims created a poster seeking information on his killers. “I was a kind person and gentle soul,” it reads. “…I loved to play the piano and was a great singer. I played at our local CCC with the music group called Jazzology. I was only 28-years-old. I had my whole life ahead of me.”

The poster says Sims was last seen leaving the Capri Club.

His friends also created a memorial to him. It is covered with musical notes.

The Sheriff’s release, posted to Facebook, further says, “Additionally, detectives have also arrested 54-year-old Renee Brown of Novato, the mother of outstanding suspect Daniel Ortega.”

Daniel ortega

Daniel Ortega mugshot.

“Brown was booked into jail on an accessory charge for interfering in the investigation,” sheriff’s officials said. “She is being held in lieu of $500,000 bail.”

A man who had employed the suspects – and who was wearing a Make America Great Again hat – told the San Francisco Chronicle the men were hard workers and said he was surprised by the accusations.

4. Sims’ Facebook Pages is Filled With Images of Piano Playing & Music

On Facebook, people have left messages of sadness since Sims’ death. “So sorry you are gone… love to you and all of yours,” wrote one person.

Will Sims

Will Sims. (Facebook)

Sims’ cousin posted an emotional statement on Twitter, although aspects of the statement have not been verified. He called Sims caring, quiet, reserved, and helpful.

“Very sad day,” wrote another person on Sims’ page, which showcases his love of music. It’s filled with photos of Sims playing the piano.

5. There is a Twitter Hashtag in Sims’ Name as People Call His Death a ‘Lynching’

Will Sims

Will Sims. (Facebook)

The response to the hate crime charges and Sims’ death was emotional and intense on Twitter.

People questioned why there wasn’t more media coverage outside the Bay Area on Sims’ death.

People have called the death of Sims and that of 15-year-old James Means in West Virginia the equivalent of modern-day lynchings. A 62-year-old white man, William Pulliam, was charged in Means’ shooting death. He claims Means approached him and he felt threatened after they exchanged words, but police say Means was unarmed.


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Mary Davis

The murder of Mr. Sims is absolutely tragic and heartbreaking. The fact that investigators have determined it to be racially motivated at a time when we find our country so divided makes it even more devastating. I believe that journalists should be extremely careful, however, not to inflame an already tense and emotional situation with innuendo, spin or opinion. The fact that the employer of the three suspects was wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat is completely irrelevant, and you know it! The only purpose for that statement was a blatant attempt to somehow try to link Trump supporters to this violent crime. Mr. Trump does not support such hatred and neither do over 99% of the people who voted for him. And to insinuate that they do is throwing fuel on a fire. It is detrimental to the future of our country, and is hateful and hurtful to ALL. Seriously, are you trying to start a war? Let’s break down some facts here. Alt Right was a term that was originally used to refer to those on the more extreme right. This is the context under which Mr. Bannon used the term when he referenced it in a quote. More recently, a white supremacist organization known as the National Policy Institute, led by a man named Richard Spencer has taken to using the term To refer to his organization. He even credits himself for having “coined the term”. Make no mistake, this is nothing more than a sad attempt to “normalize” their ideology, as if there is any way to “normalize” a bunch of crazed Nazis! These people are not Republicans. These people are crazy. They just want others to believe that they are linked to the Republican Party or Trump Supporters to make their ridiculous ideology appear widely accepted. It is NOT! Now to put some of this in perspective, over 61.2 million people in this country voted for Mr. Trump. The NPI recently held a rally in Washington DC to which a generous estimate of 200 people attended. The FB page of this group has approx 1700 followers, and you can bet that not all of them are supporters (as journalists and investigative agencies generally monitor such activity). The Alt Right community on FB has 5200 followers, again likely not all supporters. And keep in mind that not ALL people who may consider themselves to be extreme right support this ideology. In comparison, Mr. Trump has 15.5M followers. Just 1/4 of 1% of those who voted for Mr. Trump would be over 150,000 people. So, let’s just say, worst case scenario, you could find 50,000 nut cases who agree with these Nazis; or are involved in the KKK, Aryan Nation or some other insignificant hate group. That still leaves MILLIONS of us who loathe such hatred and bigotry and stand with all others who are against it. So why is the media insinuating that somehow all Trump supporters and Mr. Trump support such nonsense. It is not statistically sound and makes no sense. And it is doing nothing but ripping our country apart. For the love of God, just STOP!!

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