NYPD officials gave an update 20 hours into an investigation into a case of friendly fire that left one detective dead and another injured in the 102nd Precinct Tuesday night.
The NYPD revealed that 42 rounds were fired when up to seven officers responded to a robbery in which the suspect was wielding an imitation firearm.
Det. Brian Simonsen and Sgt. Matt Gorman arrived at the T-Mobile store at 91-62 120th St. when he and a sergeant were caught in the crossfire of five other members of the 102nd Precinct who arrived moments after the two plainclothes officers.
An NYPD spokesman said the 27-year-old suspect was seen going into the store with a ski mask and when officers arrived, the man charged law enforcement. Simonsen fired two rounds alongside Gorman but was struck in the chest by a fellow officer, NYPD said, and transported in an unmarked car to Jamaica Hospital.
“At this hour, I will tell you that this appears to be an absolute tragic case in friendly fire,” Commissioner James O’Neill said at a press conference at Jamaica Hospital on Tuesday night. “This is an absolute tragedy. The worst outcome any police officer or family of a police officer could ever imagine. And the sympathies and prayers of the entire New York City Police Department are with a family and colleagues of Detective Simonsen tonight. And I hope that all New Yorkers understand how difficult the job that have an NYPD officer is.”
Gorman is recovering from a gunshot wound to the leg in Jamaica Hospital while the suspect was in stable condition at New York-Presbyterian Queens.
All shots were fired in front of the building, not inside, NYPD said, and they are currently analyzing footage from five body cameras worn by officers at the scene to gain further information about the events that led to Simonsen’s death. Cops are additionally asking the public for more information on the suspect, Christopher Ransom, 27, who had multiple misdemeanor convictions along with impersonating an officer at the 77th Precinct.
Simonson, who is from Calverton L.I. was 42 years old with 19 years on the job. He had no children, but is survived by a wife and his mother, according to NYPD Chief of Department Terrence Monahan.
“He was the one that you called if you had a problem,” Monahan said on. “He was a 19-year veteran who spent his entire career in the 102nd Precinct. There wasn’t a person in the 102 who didn’t know Brian.”
As Simonsen was in plainclothes at the time – investigating an unrelated robbery pattern at the precinct house – he was not wearing a protective vest when he responded to the call that would be his last, NYPD said.
“We lost a very good man – Detective Brian Simonsen, 18 years on the job protecting the people of this city. And Commissioner O’Neill and I just spent time with Detective Simonsen’s family and it was heartbreaking, absolutely heartbreaking. His mom, who has suffered so much, his wife – the shock that they’re feeling was so painful to see,” de Blasio said. “I want to just note how difficult it is for our men and women in uniform to go into a situation like this one – the Commissioner will go over the details – but to go into a situation where people’s lives are in danger, where there is someone with a weapon ready to recklessly use it at any moment, and our officers, our detectives, our sergeants go in selflessly to protect others and they know it’s a moment where they cannot hesitate, where even a moment of hesitation could mean a life is lost.”
A procession followed the Tuesday night press conference announcing preliminary details of Simonsen’s death, and procession was held as an ambulance transported his remains in an ambulance.
Hundreds of police officers, both NYPD and state police, lined 135th Street behind Jamaica Hospital in salute to Simonsen who spent his entire law enforcement career at the 102nd Precinct.