Editor’s Note: The suspect was waving a “fake” hand gun and Detective Simonsen was not wearing a protective vest…..Carol
Forty-two Shots Fired By Police In Friendly Fire Fusillade That Killed Decorated Queens Detective
Cops unloaded a 42-shot fusillade in 11 chaotic seconds during a Queens cellphone store holdup where a decorated NYPD detective was killed by friendly fire with a single bullet to the chest, police officials said Wednesday.
Slain Detective Brian Simonsen, a 19-year veteran widely admired by colleagues and neighbors, was not wearing a bulletproof vest when the shooting started without warning outside the T-Mobile phone store at 6:12 p.m. Tuesday, officials said.
“Everything happens in seconds, it goes from zero to 60 (mph),” said NYPD Chief of Department Terence Monahan. “Your adrenaline is high. It’s horrible … You’re reacting to something happening very fast.”
Eight cops, including Simonsen and his partner Sgt. Matthew Gorman, arrived at the scene just seconds apart to find suspect Christopher Ransom was inside, armed with what turned out to be a fake handgun.
He pointed the “weapon” at the officers and feigned shooting — even recoiling his arm as if the gun had fired, according to a source.
The officers were on either side of the store entrance when the gunfire erupted barely 30 seconds after exiting their cars.
Ransom, 27, remained in Booth Memorial Hospital with gunshot wounds. He had yet to make any statements, and no charges were yet brought against him.
But Monahan laid the killing of the 42-year-old Simonsen at the feet of the wounded suspect: “This scene is caused by a man charging police officers. The blame goes to that individual for doing that.”
The smell of gunpowder filled the February night from the volume of shots fired, according to witnesses at the scene. The officers were responding to a 911 call of a gunman holding store workers hostage.
Gorman fired 11 shots, Simonsen squeezed after two rounds and five of the other officers were responsible for the other 29 bullets.
Dozens of evidence markers remained Wednesday in the crime scene area surrounding the Richmond Hill store, with a line of police officers scouring the area for additional evidence.
The detective’s unmarked black Ford, pocked with gunshots, remained parked outside the store. A constellation of bullet holes in the glass bore witness to the gunfire.
Gov. Cuomo directed all state government buildings to fly their flags at half-staff from Thursday through the detective’s burial.
Simonsen spent his entire career working in the 102nd Precinct in Queens, where he was viewed as a cut above the average cop by local residents.
“This is a man who was doing his job, and he was happy with his job, and his job was to make sure that the street was safe,” said lifelong neighborhood resident Polo Savinon, 26.
“You lose somebody like that, you lost more than just an officer,” he continued. “It really is a shame.”
During his long career, Simonsen logged 569 arrests – including 446 felony busts. He also earned five Excellent Police Duty Medals and one Meritorious Police Duty Medal.
He was working on a local robbery pattern when killed, and could have skipped his shift after attending a union delegates meeting in the morning.
Mayor de Blasio recounted speaking with the detective’s wife and mother at New York-Presbyterian Queens Hospital after the shooting.
“It’s a particularly painful responsibility to speak with family who have just lost their loved one in service to our city,” he recounted. “And you can imagine how devastated they were …. The bravery it takes to go into an unknown situation like that is extraordinary, and he gave his life for us.”
Gorman, shot in the hip Wednesday evening, remained in the Queens hospital. Family members at his Seaford, L.I., home declined to speak with reporters, and a local police car was parked outside. He responded to the call with Simonsen.
“He seems like a nice guy, I see him walking his dog,” said Gorman’s neighbor Tom Sofia, 84. “It’s a big relief to know he is going to be released.”
The married Simonsen joined the NYPD in March of 2000, and landed at the 102nd Precinct just seven months later. He was assigned to the precinct Detective Squad in November 2006, and promoted to detective in May of 2008.
The New York Police & Fire Widows’ & Children’s Benefit Fund will provide the Simonsen family with $25,000 to cover their immediate expenses — including the slain detective’s funeral.
“We are heartbroken for his family, for the NYPD, and for our entire city,” said Lauren Profeta, executive director of the fund. “It is a tremendous loss. We vow to honor Detective Simonsen by helping those he loved the most — his family.”