NewsLocal News


Family mourns 20-year-old man killed in Otay Mesa recreation center shooting

Family mourns 20-year-old man killed in Otay Mesa recreation center shooting
Posted at 5:29 PM, May 10, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-10 20:54:03-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Loved ones are searching for answers, after a 20-year-old man was gunned down outside an Otay Mesa recreation center.

“I’m numb. Feels like it's a dream,” said Leann Vining.

Five days later, a heartbroken mother and sister are mired in grief after the death of Robert Simmons.

“Part of me is just taken, and it hurts,” said Simmons’ sister, Alanna, 18.

That hurt stems from violence on Friday night, just past 7 p.m., at Montgomery Waller Recreation Center at 3020 Coronado Ave.

It's believed Simmons was with several friends. Police say as soon as they drove into the parking lot, they encountered a group of men, with at least one of the men issued a gang challenge. Investigators say the whole group tossed glass bottles, before one of the men started shooting.

After a hail of gunfire, Simmons would die at the scene. A 19-year-old man was wounded.

That group of men drove off in a white car.

“My heart feels shattered. It’s hard to explain,” said Vining, Simmons’ mother.

Vining says the last days have been surreal.

“I'm angry. I'm hurt. I’m always asking, ‘Why? Why him?’” said Vining.

She calls her son, a Palomar High grad, a funny, outgoing, energetic young man, who had recently gotten a job working security at a shipyard.

“I was so happy and proud of him. He was excited,” said Vining.

The way her son died is hard to process. She doesn't believe he was in a gang, but his sister believes Simmons, who loved rap music, may have been targeted because of the way he dressed.

“Wrong timing, wrong place,” said Alanna.

Family members are now appealing to the public to find his killer.

“We all do need justice for this, because this was so wrong and cruel,” said Alanna.

“If you know something, just please … He didn't have to die, not my baby,” said a tearful Vining.

The shooter is described as a 19 or 20 years old with a thin build, driving off in a white sedan.

Anyone with information is asked to call the SDPD Homicide Unit at 619-531-2293 or Crime Stoppers at 888-580-8477.

A Gofundme campaign has been set up to help the family with funeral expenses.