Commuters heading east to the Hamptons on Montauk Highway found delays near Exit 65 to Hampton Bays on Wednesday morning as hundreds of police and mourners gathered at the funeral mass for fallen NYPD Detective and Calverton resident Brian Simonsen, 42, who was killed by friendly fire during a robbery in Queens last week.
Both sides of the long stretch of highway was lined with cars parked for the service at nearby Church of St. Rosalie on East Montauk Highway in Hampton Bays. The long line of cars included multiple police cars and SUVs from the NYPD and various Long Island departments, as well as vehicles from towns around the Tri-State Area, such as Passaic and others in New Jersey, Sands Point in Port Washington and Troy in Upstate NY, to name just a few. Officers could be seen walking along the highway in their dress uniforms, heading to the church where they would honor and remember Det. Simonsen’s life.
According to Newsday, Det. Simonsen, a 19-year veteran of the force—all at the 102 Precinct—was accidentally shot and killed on February 12 when he and his supervisor Sergeant Matthew Gorman, a Seaford resident, responded to an armed robbery report at a T-Mobile store in Richmond Hill, Queens. The New York Times reports that Simonsen and Gorman were caught in a hail of bullets from responding officers as they attempted to take down the robbery suspect, 27-year-old Christopher Ransom, who brandished a realistic looking toy gun. Seven responding officers, who arrived after Simonsen and Gorman, fired 42 shots in 11 seconds, hitting Ransom eight times, seriously wounding Gorman’s left leg and killing Simonsen with a shot to the chest.
Gorman and Simonsen were the first at the scene and neither man was in uniform. They were caught in the crossfire, according to the Times, when Ransom pointed his fake gun at police. Simonsen was not scheduled to work that day, but had attended a meeting that morning as part of his duties as union delegate.
Despite suffering eight bullet wounds, Ransom survived the shooting. His accomplice, Jagger Freeman, fled the scene after hearing gunfire, but was apprehended. Both men have been charged with second-degree murder, among other charges relating to the February 12 robbery and a previous T-Mobile store robbery four days earlier, The New York Times reports.
“This absolute tragedy highlights the incredibly brave actions our members perform each day in the name of driving down violence and disorder in every neighborhood. And I hope that it helps all New Yorkers understand just how difficult it is to be an NYPD officer,” Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill wrote in a statement released on February 13.
Following the service at Church of St. Rosalie in Hampton Bays—which was chosen, according to Newsday, because it could accommodate 750 people—Simonsen’s body was laid to rest at Jamesport Cemetery in Jamesport, the town where he was born and raised.
Simonsen leaves behind a wife, Leanne, and mother, Linda. He is buried alongside his late sister, Melissa, who was hit and killed by a car at age 13 in 1992, and his father, Paul, who died less than six months after her death. His family requests donations to Long Island’s Healing Haven Animal Foundation in lieu of flowers.