Father struggles to understand allegations against daughter who was killed by police

Published: Friday, Jan. 11 2013 2:40 p.m. MST

Family photo of Kelly Fay Simons, 38, and her father Scott Simons. Kelly Simons was fatally shot during a confrontation with a police officer who was investigating her in a string of armed robberies. Scott Simons said he can't reconcile the daughter he knew with the description of her as an armed robber.

Family photo

SALT LAKE CITY — Police believe she was half of a female duo involved in an armed robbery at a Murray restaurant and later in a shootout with a Murray police officer.

But the father of Kelly Fay Simons, 38, says he can't believe the woman police describe and the daughter he knew were the same person.

"It doesn't fit her profile of who she was. You talk to any of her friends and all she did was help people. There's a lot of inconsistencies with the act and actually how it ended," Scott Simons said. "She plays bass in our worship group and she reads her Bible, and she takes good notes. … If you saw her Bible, you would know she read it regularly."

Simons described his daughter as a "good Christian girl" who taught Sunday School. That's why he had a hard time believing the news Wednesday when he was told she had been shot and killed by a member of the Joint Criminal Apprehension Team.

But police say she was not only a suspect in the robbery and shootout in Murray, but also in six to nine other recent armed robberies in the Salt Lake City area.

"I don't know what the police know, they may be correct. But something's still not right about the whole situation because it's not like my daughter was hurting for money. She had an income, she rented her house. She had a credit card with still $7,000 worth of credit," her father said.

"I'm just really seeking for the answer. I'm not trying to blame the police. I'm not trying to blame my daughter. It just seemed out of control the way things went down," Simons said.

Law enforcers around the valley, including members of JCAT, had stepped up their efforts to find two people believed to have been involved in a shooting with police on Jan. 5. A Murray police officer approached a suspect believed to have just robbed a Scaddy's restaurant, 5430 S. 900 East. The officer got into a foot chase with the suspect. The suspect fired several shots at the officer before jumping into a waiting getaway car driven by a woman. The officer returned fire. No one was injured. Police initially couldn't tell if the second person was a man or woman because she was wearing a disguise.

Wednesday, a JCAT officer spotted Simons on a street near Liberty Park, at 974 S. 740 East. After some type of confrontation, Simons was shot and killed. Scott Simons said police have not given him a lot of information about the incident, but he was told that his daughter reportedly tried to hit an officer with her vehicle.

Both the Salt Lake City Police Department and the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office are investigating the shooting.

Scott Simons said he doesn't know what to believe. He said he also feels bad for the officer who shot her. But he wants to know the truth about what happened. Simons said he had been cooperating with police, providing them with numbers and names to help with their investigation.

"I love my daughter, and I know she wouldn't hurt anybody," he said.

Simons said his daughter was at Bible study on Jan. 2 and had a doctor's appointment on Jan. 4. But she missed church on Sunday, the first time in a long time that she had done so, he said. The Scaddy's robbery was the night before.

Kelly Simons had a drug problem a few years ago, her father admitted, and she was still taking prescription medication to deal with it. Simons said he believed his daughter was using heroin before. She was charged in 2009 with possession of drug paraphernalia and retail theft in Salt Lake County Justice Court. She pleaded no contest to the drug charge in a plea in abeyance deal and the charge was later dismissed after she reportedly sought drug treatment. She also had drug-related charges in 2004, 2001 and 1999, according to state court records

"I had no indication she had been doing drugs again," her father said.

Hours after Simons was shot, police were able to contact Sandra Chotia-Thompson, 40, and convinced her to surrender without further incident. Police believe Chotia-Thompson was the other woman involved in the Scaddy's robbery and shootout with the officer.

Simons said his daughter and Chotia-Thompson were friends several years ago and Chotia-Thompson even went to church with them for awhile. But she later became "too weird," Simons said, and he and his wife feared she was using drugs.

"My wife told her she didn't want her hanging around with Kelly or coming over anymore. I guess she got influenced again with her or something. We're just like struggling, it's hard to even stop crying. She was just a good girl, would never hurt anybody," he said.

Kelly Simons painted murals for a living, in businesses, nurseries, stores and other places. Her father said he doesn't believe his daughter would harm anyone.

"You lose a daughter, your only child of 38 years, you cry. It's hard. We're drained," he said. "She was at church last Wednesday and she seemed very attentive and loving. … Now I just cherish those last moments I had with her."

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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