A 42-year-old New York City police detective from Calverton was fatally struck by friendly fire at the scene of a robbery in Queens on Tuesday night, officials said.
NYPD officers responding to the robbery shot plainclothes Det. Brian Simonsen and Sgt. Matthew Gorman, at a T-Mobile store on Atlantic Avenue in Richmond Hill at 6:24 p.m., police said. Simonsen, a 19-year veteran of the force, sustained a gunshot wound to the chest that proved fatal. The sergeant was hit in the leg and is in stable condition at Jamaica Hospital.
“Make no mistake about it, friendly fire aside, it is because the actions of the suspect that Detective Simonsen is dead,” NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill told reporters.
The suspect — whom O’Neill described as a 27-year-old man and a “career criminal” — was shot multiple times and is now hospitalized in stable condition. The weapon he held turned out to be an imitation firearm that police recovered at the scene.
Based on preliminary investigation, O’Neill said, the NYPD received multiple 911 calls about the reported robbery. One caller claimed that an armed man had been holding several people inside the store at gunpoint.
O’Neill and Mayor Bill de Blasio met with Simonsen’s wife and mother at Jamaica Hospital. Condolences poured in in response to the news.
“Our hearts go out to the families and friends of the NYPD,” said President James McDermott, Nassau County Police Benevolent Association. “The men and women in law enforcement put their lives on the line each and every day for the safety and security of our community and others. This serves as a reminder of the bravery, courage, and everyday heroism of the men and women in blue.”