Loved ones gathered Monday evening to remember an NYPD detective killed in a hail of police gunfire last Tuesday after responding to a reported robbery in Queens.
"To be working in one location for so long, to get to know the people and the people to know him, where you don't see that often nowadays and it's just such a credit to him," said Thomas Reilly, one of the detective's friends.
- Man Charged in Death of NYPD Detective Has Odd Criminal History
- NYPD Detective Killed by Friendly Fire While Responding to Queens Robbery
Hundreds of New York City's finest joined friends and family members at the Church of Saint Rosalie on Long Island for the wake of NYPD Detective Brian Simonsen.
"You just think 'Oh my God,' that could have been me, and then you think about their family and then, like I said, we all try to just come together," one officer said.
Mourners have also added to a growing memorial for Simonsen outside the 102nd Precinct in Queens where he worked for nearly 20 years. Dozens gathered outside the Richmond Hill station Sunday to pay tribute.
Two men face multiple charges for the reported robbery that led to the shooting.
The NYPD said seven officers fired 42 shots at a robbery suspect pointing what turned out to be a fake gun at a T-Mobile store in Richmond Hill last Tuesday. Simonsen was hit in the chest by one of those bullets from a fellow officer.
27-year-old Christopher Ransom, the one police said had the fake firearm, faces a slew of charges, including murder, manslaughter, assault, and robbery. Ransom's lawyers argue he has been "overcharged" in the incident, which police are still investigating. The NYPD has not yet confirmed which officer ended up striking Simonsen.
Another NYPD officer, Sergeant Matthew Gorman, was shot in the hip and taken to Jamaica Hospital for surgery. He returned to his Long Island home Thursday.
"This whole idea of no bail and no jail, what that equates to is people that are out on the street that really shouldn't be," Michael Palladino, president of the Detective's Endowment Association, the union for NYPD detectives, said about Ransom not being in jail despite his lengthy criminal record.
Simonsen was 42 years old and just two years away from retirement.
"The ultimate irony is that he was supposed to be off that night, but he volunteered to come in, so that shows, again, a dedicated cop" New York Rep. Peter King said.
Simonsen leaves behind a wife and mother, who now mourn along with those who say he'll be missed.
"Giving his heart and soul and, ultimately, his life to the area, to Richmond Hill and to the city of New York," Reilly said.
"This fella was every bit of his nickname 'Smiles,'" Palladino said. "He had a very charismatic personality. Nothing short of a humanitarian."
It was the second time a police officer has been shot in the city in the past three months. In December, a police officer on Staten Island was hit by friendly fire as officers responding to a domestic dispute call shot and killed a man carrying a knife. That officer did not die.
The last NYPD officer killed in the line of duty was Miosotis Familia, who was shot shortly after midnight on July 5, 2017 as she sat inside a NYPD mobile command center in the Bronx. Familia was posthumously promoted to detective.
The last NYPD detectives shot and killed while on duty were Bobby Parker and Pat Rafferty in 2004.
The second day of the wake will be Tuesday. Simonsen's funeral is set for 10 a.m. Wednesday.