A New York Police Department detective was shot and killed, and a sergeant was wounded in a furious gunbattle Tuesday night with an armed robber in Queens, law enforcement sources said.
The death of hero Detective Brian Simonsen is the first gunshot line-of-duty fatality since 2017.
According to sources, police were responding to an armed robbery at a T-Mobile cellphone store in Richmond Hill at around 6:14 p.m.
Simonsen, a 19-year veteran detective, and 102nd Precinct squad Sgt. Matthew Gorman were struck by gunfire as two suspects holed up inside the store, sources said.
Simonsen was hit in the chest. He leaves behind a wife and two children, sources said. Gorman was shot in the hip. It wasn’t clear if the officers were wearing bulletproof vests.
One of the robbery suspects was shot and critically wounded in the confrontation, sources said. He was taken to New York-Presbyterian Queens hospital. The second suspect was apprehended later.
According to police sources, the suspects were wanted in a robbery pattern in the area.
Police Commissioner James O’Neill confirmed the bloodshed, tweeting, “An on-duty NYPD officer has been shot in Queens during what appears to be an armed robbery.”
Officers frantically called for help after a hail of bullets.
“Shots fired! Shots fired!” one frantic officer can be heard screaming on emergency radio transmissions. “Central, he’s in the store. He’s going to the back … He’s still in the store, central. He’s still in the store.”
At another point, a sergeant radios: “Be advised, I’m shot. The perp’s in the location.”
Police officers on the scene desperately called for a “blood bank” – a sign that an officer was in life-threatening need of a transfusion.
Dozens of stunned and grieving police officers rushed to Jamaica Hospital, where the wounded sergeant was being treated. Inside the packed lobby, cops were seen hugging and crying. A grim-faced Mayor Bill de Blasio arrived at the hospital an hour later.
One neighborhood resident said he saw the mayhem as he was walking home.
“The police officers were yelling and after that they started shooting,” said resident Jason Brodi. “There were five or six shots, then there were 10 or 11 shots.
“There was so much gunfire you could smell the smoke in the air,” he added.
Another neighbor, Manny Singh, said the store has been robbed before.
“They were so close to our house,” Singh said of the deadly shootout. “It was terrifying.”