THEY GOT THE WRONG MAN INCARCERATED.
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HELLO, MY NAME IS ERNEST JAMES SIMMONS, I WAS ARRESTED ALONG WITH 2 OTHERS ON MAY 30, 2007 AND I HAVE BEEN SENTENCED TO 2 LIFE SENTENCES FOR SOMEONE ELSE CRIMES. I NEVER GOT MY PLEA AND I NEVER HAD A TRIAL.
I ADMIT I HAVE A HISTORY OF CAR THEFT DURING MY TEEN YEARS, I AM NOW 34 YEARS OLD FIGHTING FOR MY FREEDOM AND OF COURSE I FOUND GOD IN HERE AND LEARNED MY LESSON AND BEGGED FOR FORGIVENESS, I AM WILLING TO TELL TGE TRUTH IN A TRIAL I'M PRAYING AND HOPING TO GET SOONER OR LATER.
AND I DO HAVE WITNESSES. MY BESTFRIEND JUST RECENTLY TOLD MY PARENTS & GRANDPARENTS THAT THE DUDE WHO I AM IN HERE FOR IS BRAGGING ABOUT HOW DUMB I WERE FOR TAKING HIS SENTENCED.
I ERNEST J. SIMMONS NEVER TOOK THE BLAME FOR THIS CRIME, I HAPPENED TO RIDE ALONG IN MAY 2007 WITH THE TWO OTHER GUYS. MY FAMILY RECENTLY ASKED THE YOUNGEST GUY WHO WAS WITH US WILL HE WRITE A STATEMENT STATING THE TRUTH IN 2017 HE AGREED YES, AND HE ALSO SAID THE REASON HE DIDN'T ADMIT IT IN 2007 WAS BECAUSE HE WAS AFRAID OF THE DRIVER WHO GOD KNOWS REALLY DID DO IT.
I MUST ADMIT, I WAS ALWAYS CLAIMING TO NOT BE A SNITCH AND DID TOO THINK THE GUY WILL HAVE SOMEONE TO DESTROY ME AND MY FAMILY IF HE WERE TO GO IN.
I ALSO FEEL STUPID TODAY FOR RUNNING DURING THE TIME THIS INCIDENT HAPPENED KNOWING IT MADE ME LOOK BAD AND GUILTY AND THAT IS WHY NOW I FEEL IS WHY I GOT THE MOST TIME.
KEVIN BEARRY IS THE ONE WHO MADE SURE THAT I ERNEST JAMES SIMMONS GOT THE 2 LIFE SENTENCES, WHEN FOR A FACT THE GUNMAN IS THE RIGHT HAND SHOOTER BUT I AM LEFT HANDED.
The three burglars were brazen enough to break into a sport utility vehicle within view of at least a dozen patrol cars parked outside a convention hall hosting the 22nd National Conference on Preventing Crime in the Black Community.
State Attorney General Bill McCollum, keynote speaker for the conference that begins today, called the shooting a "tragic irony."
"I hope this sobering incident will serve to encourage the conference's attendees in their efforts to address the crimes that are tearing apart their neighborhoods and communities and prevent those crimes from continuing to occur," McCollum said.
Sheriff Kevin Beary gave a much more personal view after visiting the wounded deputies at Orlando Regional Medical Center.
"People better wake up. I've got two cops lying in there, and I'm a little pissed," Beary said. "I'll bet you a paycheck these guys are multitime offenders."
Beary said Deputies Curtis Barnes and John Siller came upon the car burglary in progress and "walked into a hornet's nest. . . . One guy was just relentless in pulling the trigger."
One bullet hit Barnes, 42, in the right arm. Another hit Siller, 40, on the left side of his chest, which was protected by a bulletproof vest, according to the Sheriff's Office.
"He's going to be bruised up pretty good and sore, but the vest saved his life," spokesman Deputy Carlos Padilla said.
The number of shots fired by the suspects and the deputies was not released Wednesday as the investigation continued late into the evening. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement responded to help investigate but withdrew after learning none of the shots fired by deputies struck the suspects.
A pistol thought to have been dropped by one of the three burglary suspects was found by deputies in the parking lot behind Tower III at the Caribe Royale Resort. A vehicle thought to have been used by the trio was found and seized as well.
Deputies captured two of the three suspects in the parking lot. The third was captured about a half-mile away, 90 minutes after the shootings, when deputies and K-9 teams tracked him north along State Road 535, the Sheriff's Office said.
As Beary had predicted, the suspects turned out to be repeat offenders.
Clark, 25, had been arrested at least 25 times, records show. Most of the charges involved drug possession, car theft and one count of armed robbery.
Simmons, 23, previously had been arrested at least 12 times on charges including car theft, burglary and carrying a concealed firearm, records show.
Rivera, 18, had been arrested four times on charges including possession of counterfeit money and car theft.
The outcome of those cases could not be immediately determined Wednesday night.
All three were charged with two counts each of attempted murder of a law-enforcement officer, a life felony. Other charges are pending. They are being held at the Orange County Jail without bail.
Participants arriving to register for the conference said the shooting was symptomatic of violence facing many communities across the country, regardless of race.
"It makes me think we need to do more as a community to curtail these violent acts," said Steven Miller, a probation officer with the state Department of Juvenile Justice in Palm Beach County. "I believe in a village concept where we work together."
Within minutes of the shooting, caravans of patrol cars from many of the cities and towns in Orange and Osceola counties raced toward the Caribe Royale's convention center.
Joining them were undercover drug agents with long hair and ratty beards who pulled on sheriff's gear to join an armed cordon that prevented anyone from leaving the hotel near the corner of World Center Drive and State Road 535.
A K-9 team from Walt Disney World security also showed up, along with FBI agents and the Florida Highway Patrol, as sheriff's helicopters circled overhead looking for the third suspect.
An unidentified detective from Osceola told Orange sheriff's officials that the suspects may be the same men sought in a recent string of car burglaries along U.S. Highway 192.
Car burglaries in Orange County's tourist district around International Drive are what prompted the Sheriff's Office to assign Barnes and Siller to patrol the Caribe Royale's parking lots during registration and the conference on crime.
Both wounded deputies were treated and released from ORMC late Wednesday afternoon, the Sheriff's Office said.
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