Suspect in NYPD death a 'career criminal' behind dangerous pranks

RICHMOND HILL, Queens (WABC) -- The suspect allegedly involved in the robbery of a Queens T-Mobile store that led to the friendly fire death of an NYPD detective is described by police as a career criminal.

The suspect, 27-year-old Christopher Ransom, has been charged with murder, manslaughter, aggravated assault, menacing and robbery.

Detective Brian Simonsen and Sergeant Matthew Gorman responded to an armed robbery in progress near Atlantic Avenue and 121st Street in Richmond Hill around 6 p.m. Tuesday.

Police say Ransom was apparently seen taking two employees into the back of the store.

As officers entered the store, police say Ransom charged at them with a fake gun, prompting seven officers to fire 42 shots. Simonsen was killed and Gorman wounded in the crossfire, and Ransom was also struck.

"With the suspect advancing toward them, the officers discharge their weapons and retreated out of the store," Police Commissioner James O'Neill said. "Make no mistake about it, friendly fire aside, it's because of the actions of the suspect that Detective Simonsen is dead."

Ransom was wounded and is listed in stable condition.

Police say he has eight prior arrests dating back to December 2010 for mostly minor crimes but including petit larceny, grand larceny criminal impersonation of a police officer, violating an order of protection, and fare evasion. He has never served time in the state prison system.

Friends described him as a self-styled social media prankster, and when they learned he was the suspect in this case, they said they were surprised but not shocked and that they believe he was up to another prank.

One friend who asked not to be identified said Ransom seemed to revel in it.

In a video posted on YouTube, Ransom was dressed as a superhero and volunteering his crime fighting services to officers at the 71st Precinct. In another video, he appears to be calling in a false alarm before running behind the fire truck down the street.

In another video, he crawled down onto the subway tracks and tried to stop an oncoming train.

Another video posted on his Instagram account called "Ramsom_livesfortherisks," he can be seen getting on the ground while officers come running with their guns drawn.

"I told him to stop doing these things," his friend said. "When he had showed me the videos before, I told him he needs to stop. You don't run on the subway tracks. Don't do things where the cops tell you get on the ground because you can get shot. It's what happens. But I don't believe for a minute he was robbing the store. He was up to one of his pranks again."

He appears to have a fascination with police. Two of his arrests were for impersonating an officer, and police said that they are investigating if Ransom is the same gunman captured in surveillance video robbing another cell phone store in South Jamaica back on January 19.

Carmen Favourite lives two doors down from where Ransom grew up.

"That's not the Christopher that I know," she said. ""I never, never see Christopher in that way, never."

Two local community leaders, Chris Banks and minister Kevin McCall, led a moment of silence outside the home of Ransom's mother after meeting with her for nearly an hour.

"We do know at the end of the day that a life was lost, and we give condolences to that family," McCall said.

They answered questions but offered little insight into the suspect's state of mind or motivation.

The mother, identified by them as 77-year-old Gloria Ransom, has not spoken to her son in over a year, although they are not estranged.

They say she has not spoken to him since the shooting and has not gone to the hospital because she is in frail health.

The spokesmen expressed condolences to the family of the detective and reminded reporters that Ransom is "innocent until proven guilty."

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