Detective Brian Simonsen, 42, (above) was shot and killed during a shootout with two armed robbery suspects at a T-Mobile store in Queens on Tuesday night
One NYPD officer has been shot dead and another is injured following a shootout at a T-Mobile store in Queens on Tuesday night.
Police were responding to a call about an armed robbery at the phone store in Richmond Hill just before 6.15pm when a gun battle broke out.
Det Brian Simonsen, 42, was shot in the chest and later died. Squad Sgt Matthew Gorman was also shot in the hip during the confrontation. It is unclear whether either officer was wearing a bulletproof vest.
Simonsen and Gorman entered the store and were confronted by a suspect wielding what appeared to be a gun, Commissioner James O’Neill said at a press conference Tuesday night.
The officers opened fire on the suspect, and as they backed out of the store, they were struck by bullets from cops outside, O’Neill said.
‘Make no mistake about it, friendly fire aside, it is because of the actions of the suspect that Detective Simonsen is dead,’ the commissioner said as he choked back tears.
Two suspects, whose names have not been released, were apprehended after the shooting. Police say they were wanted in connection with a string of robberies in the area.
One of the suspects – a 27-year-old ‘career criminal’ – was shot ‘multiple times’ and critically wounded in the hail of at least a dozen bullets.
Simonsen (left) and squad Sergeant Matthew Gorman (right) were reportedly struck by friendly fire as they emerged from the T-Mobile store following a confrontation with an armed suspect inside. Gorman was shot in the hip and is reportedly in serious but stable condition
Gunfire erupted after police responded to reports of an armed robbery at the T-Mobile in Richmond Hill around 6.15pm Tuesday. Two suspects reportedly took cover inside the store
Police salute as the body of Det Simonsen is moved from Jamaica Hospital by ambulance
Commissioner James O’Neill (above) said at a press conference: ‘Make no mistake about it, friendly fire aside, it is because of the actions of the suspect that Detective Simonsen is dead’
A witness told the New York Daily News that before police arrived, one of the robbers, dressed in black, could be seen forcing two employees to the back of a T-Mobile store at gunpoint.
Chaos erupted as soon as police pulled up and dozens of shots rang out.
Officers could be heard frantically calling for backup on emergency radio transmissions.
‘Shots fired! Shots fired!’ one officer exclaimed in audio obtained by the NYDN.
‘Central, he’s in the store. He’s going to the back… He’s still in the store, central. He’s still in the store.’
The sergeant wounded in the shootout could be heard saying: ‘Be advised, I’m shot. The perp’s in the location.’
Police officers on the scene had desperately called for a ‘blood bank’, indicating that at least one of the officers was in need of a life-saving transfusion.
Simonsen, whose 19th anniversary with the department was coming up in March, leaves behind a wife and two children.
‘We lost a very good man,’ Mayor Bill de Blasio said of the hero detective.
Simonsen’s death marks the NYPD’s first line-of-duty fatality since 2017.
Distraught family members are seen arriving at Jamaica Hospital, where the two officers were brought for treatment after the shooting
Dozens of police officers gathered at the hospital awaiting news about the officers’ conditions
Video from the scene appeared to show officers escorting one of the two suspects out of the store at Atlantic Avenue and 121st Street
Commissioner James O’Neill confirmed the shooting on Twitter, writing: ‘An on-duty NYPD officer has been shot in Queens during what appears to be an armed robbery.’
Both Simonsen and Gorman were taken by patrol car to Jamaica Hospital, officials said.
Dozens of officers were seen hugging and crying in the hospital lobby as Mayor Bill de Blasio arrived shortly after the shooting.
A heavy police presence remained on the scene hours after the altercation
Witnesses to the shocking shootout reported hearing at least 15 to 20 gunshots exchanged between police and the suspects.
‘There was so much gunfire you could smell the smoke in the air,’ neighborhood resident Jason Parodi told the NYDN.
Arwin Singh, a 31-year-old construction contractor who lives across from the T-Mobile store, told the outlet: ‘I looked out and the cops were running into [the store] to get them.
‘There were two guys who put their hands on their heads. I couldn’t tell if they were robbers or workers. Then the cops came out and put one guy in an ambulance.’
He added: ‘The store has been robbed before but nothing as bad as this.’
STATEMENT FROM POLICE COMMISSIONER JAMES O’NEILL
‘Once again, our hearts are broken in New York City and in the NYPD – because a career criminal put civilian and police lives in jeopardy.
‘With me here are Mayor de Blasio, First Deputy Commissioner Ben Tucker, Chief of Patrol Rodney Harrison, Chief of Queens South Dave Barrere, Chief of Detectives Dermot Shea, President of the Detectives Endowment Association Mike Palladino, NYPD Chief Department Surgeon Dr. Eli Kleiman, William Lynch, Chief Operating Officer here at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, and Chief of Surgery Dr. Ken Fretwell.
‘Tonight in Queens, on-duty Detective Brian Simonsen was shot and killed while doing his job. He was 42 years old and had 19 years in the NYPD, all of it serving the people who live and work in the 102nd Precinct. Detective Simonsen is married – and I just spoke with his wife and mother a short time ago.
‘His sergeant, also assigned to the 102 Precinct Detective Squad, was shot one time and is in stable condition here at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center.
‘The information I’m about to tell you is preliminary, just a few hours old, and is subject to change as the circumstances become more clear. At this hour, I will tell you this appears to be an absolutely tragic case of friendly fire.
‘This evening at 6:10 p.m., two separate 911 callers reported a robbery in progress at a T-Mobile cell phone store located at 91-62 120th Street in Queens. The callers described the suspect as a male armed with a firearm. At least one of the callers said two employees of the store had been forced at gunpoint to the rear of the store. Detective Simonsen and his sergeant were in the area – working an unrelated case at the time – when they heard the call come over the radio. They did not hesitate. They responded immediately and pulled up as Patrol units arrived. Through the windows of the store, the officers did not see anyone inside. The officers then entered the store and immediately saw a man fitting the description of the suspect emerge from the back, pointing at them what appeared to be a handgun. With the suspect advancing toward them, the officers discharged their weapons and retreated out of the store. That was when Detective Simonsen was shot. His fellow officers put him in a marked police car and transported him here, where the trauma staff did their best to try to save him. We thank them for that. They were unable to do so, however. The sergeant, who has 8 ½ years with the NYPD, was shot one time in the leg. A passerby in a civilian vehicle stopped and helped him into the car and transported him here, also. He is listed in stable condition.
‘Make no mistake about it – friendly fire aside – it is because of the actions of the suspect that Detective Simonsen is dead.
‘The suspect, a 27-year-old Brooklyn resident and career criminal was shot multiple times. He was taken by ambulance from the scene to Booth Memorial Hospital in Queens, where he is listed in stable condition. Recovered by the police at the scene was an imitation firearm.
‘Again, I want to thank all of the staff of Jamaica Hospital Medical Center for the high level of care they always show our police officers. And we’ve been here all too many times.
‘Tonight highlights the incredibly brave actions NYPD members perform each day in the name of fighting crime and keeping people safe in every neighborhood. 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 the family and colleagues of Detective Simonsen tonight. And I hope that all New Yorkers understand how difficult a job that of an NYPD officer is.’