A long line of blue filed into Holy Child Jesus Church in Richmond Hill Wednesday as hundreds of NYPD officers honored fallen Det. Brian Simonsen at a memorial Mass marking the first anniversary of his death. Simonsen was killed by friendly fire on Feb. 12, 2019 while responding to a robbery at a T-Mobile store.
The 42-year-old man was a member of the NYPD’s 102nd precinct detective squad in Richmond Hill, where he worked his entire 19 years on the job. Burglary suspect Christopher Ransom allegedly charged at eight officers pointing a fake gun at them in an episode of “suicide by cop” he would later say.
The officers fired 42 shots and Simonsen was fatally struck and killed.
“To the entire NYPD family and especially to all the men and women of the 102 Precinct, you lost a brother, you’re feeling that pain, are hearts are with you as well,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said. “When we lose a member of our police force our whole city learns about the life of a good man and we learn it too late. We learn his story and with Brian we learned three things. I think very, very vividly. One, how much he loved his family. His blood family for sure but his Police Department family as well. He showed in so many ways the love and the pride he had.”
Simonsen, who made 600 arrests during his career, drove 140 miles round trip from his home in Calverton, Long Island to work in Queens.
“I kind of found out a little more about Brian, and I said to myself, wow, this guy, wow, impressive,” Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison said. “He is the police. He did what he had to do to take care of that community and keep them safe. He had 19 years on the job, a lot of people with 19 years on the job, they’re parked behind a desk, give me a desk, give me a phone, and leave me alone. He was still out there rocking and rolling, challenging the bad guys.”
In addition to Simonsen’s wife Leanna and family, students from Holy Child Jesus Catholic Academy attended the memorial. Msgr. Robert J. Romano, Assistant Chief Chaplain for the NYPD and concelebrant of the Mass, hoped that by attending the service, children of the parish would see how officers are more than people who just wear a uniform.
“They’re dads and moms just like theirs who try to bring a family together, raise a family,” he said. “I always use the imagery of the family of blood and the family of blue. When we put them together, it’s one family and we support those who have been killed in the line of duty. We support their families and they are never forgotten.”