Some people regarded Brian Simmons as the town nuisance, and he certainly did have a history of bizarre behavior around Maricopa.

Lee Shappell

This month in our InMaricopa magazine, Justin Griffin, our former editor, makes his debut as senior writer with an incredible package telling you the rest of the story.

Griffin’s uncovering the backstory about Simmons sheds new light and helps explain how a former All-American boy changes personality, fails to get mental-health help he needs despite 22 contacts in a year-and-a-half with law enforcement, and how a call for service to Maricopa PD on a noise complaint ends with Simmons dead in his side yard on a scorching August morning, his body riddled with six bullets.

There’s not much future in firing a weapon at police officers. Simmons got off a round with a shotgun before officers returned fire.

Griffin spent the better part of the past three months obtaining police and medical examiner records, and visiting with Simmons’ friends and family members, who had a very different story to tell about the person known to Maricopa. It’s a tale of officers’ hands often being tied and a system’s failure to help a man obviously in need. It’s a tragedy that should have been averted.

There are several other, lighter, stories in our magazine for you this month, too.

Tom Schuman, who always seems to find great tales, came across Maricopa resident DJ “Daniel” Giagni, whose lengthy tap dance and choreography career had him working alongside such luminaries as Gene Kelly, Liza Minnelli and Steve Martin. Now 72, Giagni works alongside Maricopa aspiring tap dancers, teaching tap at Province.

High school spring sports receive little coverage. We changed that, putting twin-sister softball players on our cover and featuring them in the first magazine story by our new reporter, Cameron Jobson. The Etzel sisters — Emma and Alyssa — will have foes thinking the Maricopa High Lady Rams are doing it with mirrors.

Words are good, and we’re certainly big fans of words, but sometimes just as effective are images. We struck the jackpot with our second new reporter, Monica D. Spencer, who doubles as an outstanding photographer. We sent her over to the Senior Center to see what’s going on. Be sure to see her photo gallery this month.

Life is a rollercoaster. We chronicle it. It’s the heartbeat of Maricopa.