That Adolphus Simmons dressed like a woman was of no consequence to his neighbors at the Bradford Apartments in North Charleston. To them, his shooting death Monday night was a senseless loss of a beloved friend.
The effeminate 18-year-old charmed them with his always jovial and sometimes flamboyant personality, they said.
It was about 8 p.m. when Mary Ivory heard a commotion outside the apartment complex on Bream Road and saw flashing blue lights. A few doors down, Simmons lay on the ground with gunshot wounds, and a man neighbors said was his brother held him in his arms, weeping. A woman cried out for someone to call police, she said.
"It was so cold," said his friend Tiffany Wells. "It seemed like it took forever for EMS to come."
Simmons, a former student at Stall High School, was pronounced dead at Medical University Hospital at 9:08 p.m., Chief Deputy Coroner Judy Koelpin said.
Police were working on leads in the case late Tuesday. There was no indication that his slaying was a hate crime, said Spencer Pryor, police public information officer.
Simmons had moved into the complex about a year earlier and quickly made friends with other tenants. Most notable was his feminine manner of dress. He experimented with creative weave hairstyles and colors, and he became pretty good at it, Wells said.
Soon, he was doing everybody's hair and making money at it, she said.
Wells said Simmons made sure that you didn't just get a nice hairdo but a lift for your spirits as well.
"He was a jokester," she said. "He liked to tell jokes and make you laugh."
About a month ago, Simmons quit his job at Captain D's on Rivers Avenue to focus on the hairstyling. His mother, Felicia Moultrie, had her hair done for free.
Moultrie spoke with her oldest son just three hours before he was shot. He was cooking crabs, and invited her over for dinner.
"He was cuttin' a fool, and laughing and joking," Moultrie said.
She was busy shopping and told him she would call him back later. It was a return call she never got around to making, and that causes her painful regret now, she said.
Witnesses told police Simmons had been eating crab before taking out the trash, according to the incident report. They heard gunfire but told police they didn't think much of it since neighbors often shoot guns. When they noticed that Simmons had not returned, they opened the door to find him unconscious on the steps.
"He was so young," Wells said.
Like his neighbors, Simmons' family looked past the clothes and hair he wore and saw only a loving human being, Moultrie said.
"He chose his lifestyle the way he wanted it," she said. "We all accepted him for who he was."
Simmons' death was the fourth homicide this year in North Charleston. Police are searching for suspects in the Jan. 12 deaths of John Burgess, 48, of Hollywood and Sheila Stannard, 48, of West Ashley. They were shot at Pepperhill Park. The city's other slaying was a murder-suicide Jan. 2 in which Ted Davis, 63, shot his wife 58-year-old Theresa Davis, then himself at their Northwood Estates home.