New York City Detective Killed by Friendly Fire After Approaching Man Holding Replica Handgun: Police

A New York City Police Department detective was fatally shot Tuesday evening after he was caught in friendly fire, top law enforcement officials said.

Brian Simonsen, 42, a 19-year-veteran of the NYPD, was rushed to Jamaica Hospital Medical Center in Queens, where he died of his wounds. The detective and his sergeant, Matthew Gorman, had responded to a 911 call about a robbery in progress at a T-Mobile store in Richmond HIll, Queens.

Two separate callers had contacted the police at 6:10 p.m. to report the robbery. The suspect, later identified as Christopher Ransom, was described as male and armed. Gorman was shot one time in the leg and is currently in stable condition.

Simonsen and Gorman had been in the area working on an unrelated case when they heard the call and responded.

Preliminary information provided by NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill said they entered the store and immediately saw a man who matched the description of the suspect emerging from the back. He appeared to be pointing a handgun at them, O'Neill said.

The officers discharged their weapons and retreated from the store. That was when Simonsen was shot, seemingly by a bullet from a patrol unit that had also arrived at the crime scene in response to the 911 call. Simonsen's fellow officers put him in a marked police car and transported him to hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

Officials said Simonsen's wife had been notified. Gorman, who has been with the NYPD for more than eight years, was transported to the same Queens hospital after a passerby in a civilian vehicle stopped and came to his aid, O'Neill said. "This appears to be an absolutely tragic case of friendly fire," the commissioner told reporters.

Ransom, the suspect, was described as a 27-year-old career criminal. He had been shot multiple times and was taken by ambulance from the scene to New York–Presbyterian Hospital Queens, where he was listed in stable condition. It emerged that he had been carrying an imitation firearm.

"Make no mistake about it. Friendly fire aside, it is because of the actions of the suspect that detective Simonsen is dead," O'Neill said at a news conference Tuesday evening.

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told reporters: "I want to just note how difficult it is for our men and women in uniform to go into a situation like this one. To go into a situation where people's lives are in danger, where there is someone with a weapon ready to recklessly use it at any moment, our officers, our detectives, our sergeants go in selflessly to protect others.

"They know it is a moment where they cannot hesitate," he continued. "Even a moment of hesitation could mean a life is lost. That bravery and that resolve is something we all need to understand even though most of us have never experienced that kind of split-second decision."