Cops: Rittenhouse Stabbing Just Over a NJ Devils Hat

Police say Colin McGovern and his friends made a comment about Simminger's hat, and that the resulting argument quickly turned physical.

Steven E. Simminger is charged in the murder of Colin McGovern.

Steven E. Simminger is charged in the murder of Colin McGovern.

In the end, it really was all about a stupid hat.

Colin McGovern and three pals poured out of a taxicab at 18th and Rittenhouse just before 3 a.m. Sunday, looking for a hotel to crash at after a night of bar-hopping in Philadelphia.

Their path crossed, for a fleeting moment in the darkness, with Steven Simminger, who had been in the area visiting some friends.

In the space of a few moments, an encounter that should have been fleeting and unremarkable turned deadly.

McGovern and his friends made a comment to Simminger about the New Jersey Devils hat that was on his head, Homicide Captain James Clark explained during a press conference this afternoon at Police Headquarters.

“He then turned and said something along the lines of, ‘What did you just say?'” Clark said. “Then it escalated from there, as far as nastier words being said.”

Surveillance footage obtained by homicide investigators showed Simminger, McGovern and one of McGovern’s friends arguing. The fight quickly turned physical.

McGovern and Simminger ended up on the ground. McGovern was “actually on top of the suspect, and [Simminger] stabs him a couple of times from underneath him,” Clark said.

McGovern, a 24-year-old Bucks County native who graduated from Council Rock High School South in 2009, got up and staggered away before collapsing. He died a short while later at Hahnemann University Hospital.

Clark said Simminger, 40, went to a Veterans Affairs hospital in Southwest Philadelphia about 7 a.m. Sunday to have a cut on his hand treated. Simminger asked for a mental health evaluation, and told hospital personnel that he’d been involved in a fight in Center City, Clark said.

Simminger has been charged with murder and related offenses. Investigators confiscated two knives from Simminger, including one they believe to be the murder weapon.

“He gave us a brief statement, but then backed off of it,” Clark said.

The homicide charge doesn’t mark Simminger’s first brush with the law. Court records show that he’s been arrested five times in Delaware County. In 1999, he was found guilty on a charge of recklessly endangering another person and simple assault, which brought a sentence of three years’ probation.

A year later, Simminger pleaded guilty to driving under the influence of alcohol, and received a sentence of two days to 23 months in prison. In 2002, he was found guilty on a charge of corruption of minors, which netted another two years’ worth of probation. He was also found guilty of indecent assault that same year.

Simminger lives in New Jersey with a girlfriend, Clark said. He also has family in Delaware County.

He is a veteran, but Clark said he doesn’t know which branch of the military Simminger served in, or if he had any history of mental illness.

The slaying, the captain said, was senseless. “This is over a hockey hat,” he said.

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