A well-known South Bend bar owner and his wife are dead after a double shooting. Autopsy results show 50-year-old Nicholas Simeri shot himself in the head after shooting his ex-wife, 49-year-old Lisa Martin-Simeri, to death in the chest.
Nick Simeri was the owner of Simeri's Old Town Tap on South Bend's west side. Lisa was the Director of Operations for several Taco Bell restaurants in town. Lisa's family told NewsCenter 16 Lisa and Nick had recently divorced. Their divorce was finalized on Tuesday. The Simeris had been married for a little more than a year. They had six children between them but none together.
"We don't know the circumstances of this terrible tragedy yet," said Nick Simeri's mother by phone on Sunday. “Our family is devastated.”
The St. Joseph County Metro Homicide Unit was called out to the Simeri’s home in the 55 thosuand block of Nature View Drive in New Carlisle just after 5 p.m. Saturday.
"You never know how deep it can get…what would set somebody off to do something like that,” shares Greg Rutherford, who lives in the neighborhood. “You just never know."
"Last week they were walking their dog down the street, holding hands," says another neighbor, Frank Shula.
A neighbor living across the street from the Simeris noticed a female body in the front yard and called 911.
"I think they were getting ready to leave to go somewhere and they noticed the body in the front yard. They immediately called 911," explains Sgt. Bill Redman from the St. Joseph County Police Department.
After calling for help the neighbor then notified a next door neighbor.
"Just so happens that one of the South Bend PD officers that works at Metro Homicide was immediately notified and made it to the house and was able to clear the home," says Assistant Commander of St. Joseph County Metro Homicide Michael Grezgorek.
Lisa Martin-Simeri was found dead immediately in her front yard. Neighbors say she must have run out of the house for help after getting shot. Police found Nick Simeri found still alive just inside the house. He too was pronounced dead shortly after at the hospital. Police say a gun was found near Nick Simeri along with casings in the front door entry way. Police had not been called to this home for domestic violence issues in the past.
The bar Nick owned, Simeri's Old Town Tap in South Bend, is closed. A sign outside reads, "closed due to family emergency." Another signs says the bar will reopen on Monday April 26th and thanks the community for their prayers.
While Nick is known for the bar, years ago he was also a basketball coach at Michiana Christian School. His two kids also went to school there.
"When I heard that it was their dad, my hands just went to my face and I was in shock, just total shock," explains Marilyn McDonald, a 4th grade teacher at Michiana Christian School. “What I heard on the news isn't the man I knew. Nick was very loving, very kind, very compassionate. Our hearts are with them right now because we know them and we know the pain that they're going through."
Lisa worked for Taco Bell and those who work nearby are also grieving from her loss.
"I'm sad and it's a tragic thing that happened so it's hard to take," says Kimberly Porter, who works in another shop nearby a Taco Bell on SR 23 in Mishawaka.
Tuesday afternoon, St. Joe County Metro Homicide the cause of death to be a homicide-suicide, and that Nick's handgun was used in the shootings.
“At this point his death has been ruled to be caused by a single self inflicted gun shot wound to the head, her death has been ruled a homicide that meaning she died by the hands of another because it was not consistent with a self-inflicted gunshot wound,” Grezgorek said.
It is still unclear why Nick was at the home that Lisa owned.
Visitation for Lisa will be Wednesday April 21, 2010 from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. and Thursday April 22, 2010 from 1-2 p.m. at Kaniewski Funeral Homes on Filbert Street in New Carlisle. Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. on Thursday April 22, 2010 at the New Carlisle Wesleyan Church.