A New York City Police detective from Calverton was killed in a shootout while responding to a robbery in Queens Tuesday evening.
NYPD Detective Brian Simonsen, 42, was killed “in what appears to be an absolutely tragic case of friendly fire,” NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill said at a press conference Tuesday night at Jamaica Hospital Center.
NYPD Sgt. Matthew Gorman was shot and wounded, O’Neill said. He is in stable condition.
Simonsen, a 19-year NYPD veteran, and Gorman, who has eight and a half years on the force, were plainclothes members of an anti-crime squad from the 102nd Precinct who were in the area working on an unrelated case when two 911 calls came in reporting an armed robbery in progress at a T-Mobile store on 120th Street in Richmond Hill.
Simonsen and Gorman were first on the scene. Patrol units pulled up behind them, the commissioner said.
Weapons drawn, the officers entered the store, which appeared to be empty, O’Neill said. A suspect emerged from the back of the store, pointing what appeared to be a weapon, and advanced toward them, O’Neill said. The two officers fired at the suspect and retreated from the store, O’Neill said.
“It was at that point that Simonsen was shot,” O’Neill said. Multiple officers fired multiple rounds.
Police put Simonsen in a patrol car and rushed him to Jamaica Hospital, where the trauma team worked very hard to save his life, the commissioner said.
Gorman was shot once in the leg and is recovering at the same hospital.
Police recovered “an imitation weapon” inside the store, O’Neill said.
The suspect was shot several times and is in police custody at another area hospital.
Simonsen grew up on Jamesport and was a 1995 graduate of Riverhead High School. He joined the NYPD in 2000 after graduating from college.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and the police commissioner met with Simonsen’s wife and mother at the hospital.
“We told them New York City and the NYPD would be there for them for as long as they lived,” de Blasio said. “We hope it was some small comfort for them in this moment of agony,” he said.
“Friendly fire aside, it is because of the action of the suspect that Det. Simonsen is dead,” O’Neill said.
The tragedy “highlights the brave actions NYPD members perform each day,” O’Neill said, and “how difficult a job” NYC police officers have.
“Brian was a good man. He was a good detective,” NYPD Detectives Endowment Association president Michael Paladino said. Simonsen was the elected delegate of the 102nd detective squad, a leader who “led by example.”
Simonsen had a delegates meeting Tuesday morning and was excused from work, but worked his shift anyway because of a pattern crime investigation he was working on, Paladino said.
“The suspect had an extensive arrest record. You have to ask, why was someone with such an extensive arrest record out on the street and not incarcerated,” Paladino said.
“Our hearts are broken again, because a career criminal put lives in jeopardy,” O’Neill said in a statement posted on Twitter last night. “He lost his life fighting crime and keeping safe all the people we serve. The sympathies of all New Yorkers are with his family and colleagues.”
A Suffolk County Police Department escort accompanied Simonsen’s family members to the hospital last night.
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