Local News

Hero cop retires from Fayetteville police force

Posted August 28, 2009 3:51 p.m. EDT
Updated August 28, 2009 4:02 p.m. EDT

— Assistant Police Chief Bill Simons was a lieutenant for the Fayetteville Police Department 16 years ago when he faced the toughest test of his law enforcement career.

Simons responded to a call at Luigi's restaurant on McPherson Church Road on Aug. 9, 1993, and arrived to find a shooting rampage going on inside.

He sneaked in a back door and saw the restaurant's cook wounded on the kitchen floor. He also could hear others moaning and whimpering in the restaurant.

Simons confronted a man armed with a 12-gauge shotgun and shot once, wounding him, to end the bloodshed.

"You train for situations like that your entire life in police work, and you hope you never have to use it," Simons said Friday as he recalled the incident. "You train really hard to try to be on top of your game for any situation you run into, and you're never really prepared for it."

Four people, including Pete and Ethel Parrous, the husband and wife who owned Luigi's, were killed in the shooting spree, and seven others were wounded.

Kenneth French, who was a 22-year-old Fort Bragg soldier at the time, is serving four life sentences in prison for the shootings.

Weeks after the 16th anniversary of the shootings, Simons was honored Friday as he retired after 32 years on the Fayetteville police force.

"A true hero helps his community heal. A true hero pours his heart and soul into the profession," Police Chief Tom Bergamine said, choking back tears, at Simons' retirement ceremony.

Simons, who will continue to work 16 hours a month as a reserve officer, still downplays the actions he took to end the Luigi's shootings.

"If it hadn't been me, it would have been somebody else," he said. "You're thrust into situations at times, (and) you've got to deal with it."

The real hero that night, he said, was a man who was killed shielding his son from the gunfire.

"It was a terrible night for the city," he said.

Luigi's remains a popular place to eat in Fayetteville, and Nick Parrous, the son of the slain restaurant owners, said the shooting has never defined the restaurant or Simons.

"His humility is something we should all aspire to," Parrous said.