42-year-old Brian Simonsen, a 19-year veteran of the New York Police Department tragically lost his life when he was fatally shot during an attempted robbery in Queens on Tuesday.
Authorities believe that this was an incident of friendly fire. The detective Brian Simonsen sustained a bullet wound in his chest and died at a local hospital as a result of the injury. According to NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill who spoke at a press conference, the incident took place after Simonsen and his sergeant responded to reports of a robbery at a T-Mobile cell phone store in Queens.
#UPDATE: The NYPD says seven officers fired 42 shots in 11 seconds during a Queens robbery last night. One hit Det. Brian Simonsen in the chest: https://t.co/R8EsRTk95c pic.twitter.com/NLq9B3sbbF— WCBS Newsradio 880 (@wcbs880) February 13, 2019
Simonsen and his sergeant had been with the NYPD for around eight and a half years and were working on an unrelated case when they received reports of the robbery. They entered the T-cell store after callers claimed that they had seen the suspect holding a handgun.
Simonsen was stationed outside the store, while the sergeant went inside as it is the protocol that the highest rank officer remain outside. 27-year-old Christopher Ransom, one of the suspects in the robbery, was carrying a fake weapon and charged at officers. Seven officers then fired 42 shots from both sides of the store, striking Simonsen, his sergeant and Ransom. O'Neill shared, "With the suspect advancing toward them, the officers discharged their weapons and retreated from the store. That was when Det. Simonsen was shot." He did identify the suspect by name but described the suspect as a 27-year-old "career criminal".
The authorities eventually determined that the suspect's weapon was an imitation firearm. Simonsen who was shot in the chest died on his way to the hospital. Simonsen's sergeant was shot in the leg and is in a stable condition at a local hospital. The suspect was shot many times but is in a stable condition at the New York-Presbyterian Queens Hospital.
19 yr #nypd veteran Det Brian Simonsen killed tonight in Queens. @NYPDONeill says it was a tragic case of friendly fire @fox5ny pic.twitter.com/AIVvNvrRLc— Stacey Delikat (@StaceyDelikat) February 13, 2019
A neighbor Arwin Singh spoke to the New York Daily and revealed that he had heard around 15-20 shots through the entire incident and said, "I thought, ‘Who plays with firecrackers in the rain? It’s crazy. The store has been robbed before but nothing as bad as this."
Detective Simonsen who leaves behind his wife and two children was assigned with the 102 Precinct and his death is the first New York City officer killed in the line of duty since 2017. O'Neill added, "Make no mistake about it — friendly fire aside, it’s because of the actions of the suspect that Detective Simonsen is dead."
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio also spoke about Simonsen and praised the late officer as well as his fellow officers. He shared, "I want to just note how difficult it is for our men and women in uniform to go into a situation where people’s lives are in danger, where there’s someone with a weapon ready to recklessly use it at any moment."
"[They] go in selflessly to protect others. That bravery and resolve is something we all need to understand," he continued. Bill also added that on Wednesday all the flags in the city would be lowered to half-staff in honor of Simonsen.