Montauk Highway in Hampton Bays was a solid sea of blue Wednesday morning, February 20, as thousands of police officers from the New York City Police Department and other departments from across the state, the region, and as far away as Canada gathered for the funeral Mass for Detective Brian Simonsen, who was killed in the line of duty in Queens on February 13.
The hamlet’s Main Street was closed from Old Riverhead Road to the east and Route 24 to the west to provide a staging area around St. Rosalie’s Catholic Church, where the funeral took place.
After a two-hour Mass, which was relayed via loudspeakers to the huge crowd gathered in the street, three NYPD helicopters flew over the church as hundreds of officers, elected officials, family, and friends stood by as Simonsen’s coffin was carried from the church.
The funeral procession made its way down Main Street, as NYPD officers, their badges partially covered by a black band of mourning, stood in their dress uniforms as many as eight deep. Simonsen, 42, a resident of Calverton and graduate of Riverhead High School, was buried at Jamesport Cemetery on the North Fork.
The detective, a 19-year veteran of the NYPD’s 102nd Precinct, was shot in the chest as he and several other officers responded to an armed burglary at a T-Mobile store in Queens. Police opened fire when the suspect emerged brandishing what appeared to be a real gun but was later revealed to be fake. When police opened fire, Simonsen was mistakenly struck by another’s officer bullet. His partner was wounded in the leg.
Photos by Stephen J. Kotz and Gianna Volpe