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I-Team: Waltham suspect Peter Simon may have intentionally struck officer

I-Team: Waltham suspect has criminal past, history of mental illness
I-Team: Waltham suspect has criminal past, history of mental illness 02:45

BOSTON - The I-Team has learned the suspect in a Waltham crash that killed a police officer and National Grid worker has a long history of struggles with mental illness and a criminal past that spans decades.

Cell phone video shows Peter Simon in a stolen cruiser being chased by police, moments after he allegedly crashed into the road crew, killing Waltham police officer Paul Tracey and National Grid worker Roderick Jackson.

The I-Team is also now learning detectives are looking into the possibility that Tracey may have told Simon to slow down as he passed the utility work and that interaction may have caused him to turn around and drive toward the crew.

"If that's correct, that he deliberately did run into those people, I have no idea," said Simon's stepfather, Philip Cannella. "It's something we wouldn't think he would have done, had it not been for extenuating circumstances such as drug or alcohol or whatever, or not taking his prescription medications."

The I-Team has learned that Simon has a long history of mental health issues, substance use disorder and anxiety. He has been arrested a number of times in multiple states including Arizona, Kansas, Colorado and New Hampshire. Simon has also spent a number of years behind bars.

Simon was also involved in an oddly similar 2009 crash in Keene, New Hampshire that left two men injured, one seriously. In that case, Simon spent five years in a locked psychiatric hospital. His former attorney in that case, Michael Hulser, told the I-Team he has not seen Simon since 2011. "I represented Peter from prison to the state hospital to release for about two years and as he worked toward release with his psychiatrists. He became a different person he was a really good guy."

Simon's stepfather said he is heartbroken for the victim's families and said Simon seemed to be doing well when he called his mother just a few days ago. "He sounded good. I absolutely have no idea how to say that. We can say we are sorry but those words are inadequate. There's no way to express our feelings toward those people we feel extremely bad about it."

Simon's family said they believe Simon is safest behind bars and they have not heard from him or the police since his arrest.  

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