What to Know
- Det. Brian Simonsen, 42, was killed after being hit by gunfire at the T-Mobile store at Atlantic Avenue and 120th Street in Richmond Hill
- Simonsen died in what NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill said appeared to be 'an absolutely tragic case of friendly fire'
- Suspect Christopher Ransom, 27, is facing murder and other charges in the robbery that sparked the deadly friendly fire
Authorities have released an image of the simulated weapon officials say NYPD cops encountered a robbery suspect holding when they stormed a T-Mobile store in Queens this week, discharging 42 rounds in 11 seconds.
The picture released Thursday shows an item that from any distance could appear to be a real gun; it is black and about the same size with a ribbed grip. The barrel says Colt 1911 TARGET, a quick Google search for which indicates the product is available for online purchase on sites like Amazon and Walmart.
It's what NYPD Det. Brian Simonsen, 42, and his sergeant, Matthew Gorman, saw the suspect, 27-year-old Christopher Ransom, holding when they responded to a 911 call about a masked man with a gun at the phone store in Richmond Hill around dinnertime on Tuesday, officials have said. The two officers were working on an unrelated case in the area, but responded since it was nearby.
Also responding: six uniformed NYPD officers, authorities said. NYPD service members fired a total of 42 rounds in 11 seconds at the scene. Simonsen, a married 19-year NYPD veteran, was hit once in the chest. He later died. Gorman was hit once in the leg; he remained hospitalized early Thursday but was stable.
Simonsen wasn't wearing a bulletproof vest when he was hit, but the other uniformed officers at the scene were wearing vests.
Gorman was released from the hospital Thursday and was said to be recovering at home, sources said.
Ransom was shot multiple times and taken to a local hospital, where he was listed in stable condition. He was charged Wednesday with second-degree murder, second-degree aggravated manslaughter, robbery, assault and menacing. It wasn't immediately clear if he had an attorney.
The NYPD is continuing to review Ransom's social media accounts, Monahan said. He has numerous previous arrests, including criminal impersonation, larceny and fraud.
Several NYPD officers have been wounded by friendly fire within the past few years. At the beginning of 2016, Officer Sherrod Stuart was shot in the ankle while exchanging gunfire with a suspect involved in a brawl in the Bronx; two months later, an NYPD officer shot his partner during a drug bust in Bushwick.
Later that year, a bullet fired by one NYPD officer grazed another as police were trying to arrest a man who attacked an officer with a meat cleaver near Penn Station. This past December, meanwhile, an officer was hit by friendly fire while responding to a domestic violence call on Staten Island.
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Simonsen, who worked in the 102nd Precinct in Queens, loved the community he worked with, officials have said. He is survived by his wife and mother.
"This was his life — he loved the 102nd," NYPD Chief of DepartmentTerence Monahan said at a Wednesday news briefing. "Everyone knew Brian was the cop that you reached out to if there was a problem."
A wake for Simonsen is scheduled for Monday, Feb. 18 from 7 to 9 p.m. and Tuesday, Feb. 19 from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. at Saint Rosalie Roman Catholic Church in Hampton Bays. The funeral will be held at the same church on Wednesday, Feb. 20 at 10 a.m.