What to Know
- Det. Brian Simonsen, 42, was killed after being hit by gunfire at the T-Mobile store at Atlantic Avenue and 120th Street in Richmond Hill
- Simonsen died in what NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill said appeared to be 'an absolutely tragic case of friendly fire'
- Suspect Christopher Ransom, 27, is facing murder and other charges in the robbery that sparked the deadly friendly fire
NYPD service members fired a total of 42 rounds in 11 seconds at the scene of a robbery where a police officer was killed by friendly fire, officials said.
Det. Brian Simonsen, 42, was shot and killed by friendly fire as officers confronted a cellphone store robbery suspect who turned out to be armed with a replica handgun. Simonsen was a 19-year veteran.
The suspect, 27-year-old Christopher Ransom, was charged Wednesday with second-degree murder, second-degree aggravated manslaughter, robbery, assault and menacing. It's not clear if he has an attorney who could comment on the charges.
At a press conference Wednesday, NYPD Force Investigation Division Deputy Chief Kevin Maloney said Simonsen was hit once in the chest by friendly fire.
Simonsen didn't have his bulletproof vest on when he was hit, Maloney noted.
Simonsen and his sergeant, Matthew Gorman, were working on an unrelated case in the area when police received a 911 call from a witness who said a man had put a mask on and entered a T-Mobile store at Atlantic Avenue and 120th Street in Richmond Hill with a firearm, NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan said at the press conference.
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The two responded to the store with six uniformed NYPD officers, according to Monahan. When they arrived at the scene, a man later identified by police as Ransom pointed what looked like a gun at the officers and ran in their direction, Monahan said.
Seven police officers then discharged a total of 42 rounds, he said. Simonsen was fatally shot once in the chest by friendly fire; Gorman was shot in the leg.
Simonsen wasn't wearing a bulletproof vest when he was hit, but the other uniformed officers at the scene were wearing vests, Maloney said.
Police later determined Ransom was wielding an imitation pistol, according to Maloney.
Gorman was still at the hospital being treated for leg wounds as of Wednesday afternoon, Monahan said.
"I can tell you, [Gorman's] not the least bit concerned about his own injury. He's overcome by the emotion of losing his friend and his partner," Monahan said.
Ransom was shot multiple times and taken to a local hospital, where he was listed in stable condition.
The NYPD is continuing to review Ransom's social media accounts, Monahan said. He has numerous previous arrests, including criminal impersonation, larceny and fraud.
Monahan said it still wasn't clear who fired the shot that hit Simonsen.
"We don't know at this point who shot who," he said, adding that it was a "chaotic scene."
Several NYPD officers have been wounded by friendly fire within the past few years. At the beginning of 2016, Officer Sherrod Stuart was shot in the ankle while exchanging gunfire with a suspect involved in a brawl in the Bronx; two months later, an NYPD officer shot his partner during a drug bust in Bushwick.
Later that year, a bullet fired by one NYPD officer grazed another as police were trying to arrest a man who attacked an officer with a meat cleaver near Penn Station. This past December, meanwhile, an officer was hit by friendly fire while responding to a domestic violence call on Staten Island.
Simonsen, who was a veteran of the 102nd Precinct in Queens, loved the community he worked with, Monahan said. He is survived by his wife and mother, Monahan added.
"This was his life — he loved the 102nd," he said. "Everyone knew Brian was the cop that you reached out to if there was a problem."
A wake for Simonsen is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 18 from 7 to 9 p.m. and Tuesday, Feb. 19 from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. at Saint Rosalie Roman Catholic Church in Hampton Bays. The funeral will be held at the same church on Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 10 a.m.