Veteran charged with murder for Rittenhouse Sq. stabbing

Steven Simminger was arrested and charged with murder (photo courtesy of Philadelphia Police Dept.)

Steven Simminger was arrested and charged with murder (photo courtesy of Philadelphia Police Dept.)

Philadelphia police are calling the stabbing death of a young man in Rittenhouse Square over the weekend a senseless act.

Authorities announced on Monday that the suspect has been arrested and is being charged with murder and related offenses.

A group of friends including Colin McGovern, 24, of Churchville, excited a cab around 18th and Rittenhouse after 3 a.m. on Sunday following a night of bar hopping. Police said the friends from Bucks County were en route to a hotel.

That’s when they walked past Steven Simminger, a 40-year-old veteran who was leaving a friend’s house. Simminger was wearing a New Jersey Devils hat, and that prompted McGovern to make a comment about it, inciting a confrontation, police say.

Surveillance footage captured the entire scuffle. 

“Punches thrown, then the fight instantly goes to the ground,” Philadelphia Police Homicide Capt. James Clark said. “The suspect is underneath the victim. He stabs him a couple of times. The decedent gets up, doesn’t think he’s that bad. About a block away, he collapses.”

McGovern was pronounced dead at 3:36 a.m. at Hahnemann University Hospital.

Around 7 a.m. on Monday, Simminger visited a veterans’ hospital to get treatment for minor hand injuries and to be mentally evaluated. Authorities captured him after recieving an anonymous call that the suspect was there.

Police say Simminger was living with his sister in New Jersey. It did not appear that Simminger was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, according to authorities. Police confiscated two knives from him. 

Court records show Simminger’s criminal history includes convictions for assault, recklessly endangering another person and a DUI.

As he waits for his first court appearance, a preliminary hearing scheduled for March 30, authorities are evaluating Simminger’s mental state.

“This was over a hockey cap” Clark said. “It was very, very senseless.”

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.