NYPD Detective Brian Simonsen killed by friendly fire during Queens robbery

RICHMOND HILL, Queens (WABC) -- The New York Police Department and New York City are in mourning after an NYPD detective was killed by friendly fire during a robbery in Queens Tuesday night.

Detective Brian Simonsen, 42, a 19-year veteran of the force, died from injuries suffered in the shooting. NYPD Sergeant Matthew Gorman was also struck by gunfire but is expected to survive.

The incident unfolded as the officers responded to a report of an armed robbery at a T-Mobile store around 6 p.m. near Atlantic Avenue and 121st Street in Richmond Hill. A 911 caller reported seeing the suspect take two employees into the back of the store at gunpoint.

Authorities said Simonsen and Gorman were in the area conducting an unrelated case when the call came in and went to investigate, arriving at the same time as other officers.

Gorman entered the store with other responding officers, police said, while Simonsen did not, consistent with protocol that requires the highest rank to remain outside

Related: Who is NYPD Detective Brian Simonsen?

Police said the suspect, 27-year-old Christopher Ransom, was carrying a fake weapon and charged at officers. Seven officers then fired 42 shots from both sides of the store, striking Simonsen, Gorman and Ransom.

"This happens in seconds," NYPD Chief of Department Terrence Monahan said. "It goes from zero to sixty."

Simonsen was shot in the chest and died on the way to the hospital, while Gorman -- an 8-year veteran -- remains hospitalized with a gunshot wound to the thigh.

It isn't clear if Simonsen was struck directly or by a ricochet off metal framing, and authorities don't yet know which gun fired the shot.

"This scene is caused by a man advancing toward police officers," Monahan said. "The blame goes toward that individual."

Friendly fire aside, Police Commissioner James O'Neill said Simonsen's death was due to the actions of the suspect, described as a career criminal.

"I ask that every New Yorker keep Brian's family and every cop in the 102 Precinct in their prayers," Monahan said.

Ransom is currently listed in stable condition.

"Brian was a good man, he was a good detective, just to tell you a little bit about him, I saw him this morning and whether you know it or not, he's the elected delegate of the 102nd Precinct Detectives Squad," said Michael Palladino, with the Detectives' Endowment Association. "What that means is his fellow detectives saw leadership skills in him."

The detective was so dedicated he was not even required to be at work that evening.

"Because he's the delegate in the 102 Detectives Squad and today was the delegate meeting, he was actually excused from duty," Palladino said. "But we had this pattern going, so he felt compelled to go to the delegate meeting, ignore the excusal and go to work. He was the kind of guy that led by example, not by words."

"Dangerous situations that we ask our men and women to go into every day," said Monahan. "They're human. And the emotion that they're feeling right now, losing a great friend, it's hurting. They're hurting. One of their best friends died."

Earlier Wednesday Mayor Bill de Blasio began his public schedule paying tribute to Det. Simonsen and asking for a moment of silence in his memory.


Officers from all over the city responded to Jamaica Hospital after news of the shooting.

This is believed to be the first fatal shooting of an officer in the line of duty in New York City since Miosotis Familia on July 5, 2017.
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Josh Einiger has the latest from Jamaica Hospital.


Governor Andrew Cuomo directed flags to half-staff on all state government buildings in memory of Detective Simonsen.

"I am deeply saddened by the shooting of NYPD Detective Brian Simonsen," he said. "This tragedy is a heartbreaking reminder of the risks the brave men and women in law enforcement face every day to keep us safe. On behalf of all New Yorkers, I offer my deepest sympathies to Detective Simonsen's loved ones and fellow members of the NYPD."

A ceremonial procession carried Simonsen's body to a Long Island funeral home Wednesday night.

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