Flag at half staff outside Riverhead High School

1010 WINS

Tributes pour in for fallen NYPD Detective Brian Simonsen

February 13, 2019 - 10:11 am

NEW YORK (1010 WINS) -- Tributes and messages of condolence were pouring in on Wednesday morning, for an NYPD detective who was shot and killed while investigating a robbery at a Queens cellphone store on Tuesday night.

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Brian Simonsen, 42, was a married father of two children with 19 years on the force. He was killed in what Police Commissioner James O'Neill called a 'tragic case of friendly fire.'

Flags at Simonsen's alma mater Riverhead High School were flown at half-mast for the fallen detective.

Following the shooting, Mayor Bill de Blasio rushed to the hospital, where hundreds of officers were gathering. 

“We lost a very good man,” the mayor said.

Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner O'Neill met with Simonsen's wife and mother on Tuesday night.

"It was heartbreaking. Absolutely heartbreaking,'' de Blasio said. "His mom, who has suffered so much. His wife. The shock that they're feeling was so painful to see.''

Detectives Endowment Association President Michael Palladino said Simonsen wasn't supposed to be working, but opted to go in so he could track a robbery pattern in the 102nd Precinct.

"He didn't have to be at work today," he said.

Those in the neighborhood who knew Simonsen were devastated by the news.

A bodega worker told 1010 WINS' Glenn Schuck about his friend, who he just saw last Tuesday.

"We're going to close down for a couple hours to pray for him," the worker said. "He always asked how are things going and if anybody bothering us. He always there for everybody."

The worker said he's so upset he can't sleep. He has a photo with Simonsen on his phone that he says he will never take off. 

"I just miss this guy. I can't believe I'm not going to see him anymore," he said.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered flags to be flown at half staff on all state government buildings in honor of Simonsen.

"I am deeply saddened by the shooting of NYPD Detective Brian Simonsen," he said. "This tragedy is a heartbreaking reminder of the risks the brave men and women in law enforcement face every day to keep us safe. On behalf of all New Yorkers, I offer my deepest sympathies to Detective Simonsen's loved ones and fellow members of the NYPD."

The last NYPD officer killed in the line of duty was a 12-year veteran and mother of three who was gunned down in 2017 while sitting in a police vehicle.

Officer Miosotis Familia, 48, was writing in her notebook when ex-convict Alexander Bonds strode up and shot her through a window. Bonds, who had railed about police and prison officers in a Facebook video months earlier, was fatally shot by officers soon after the attack.

In December, a police officer on Staten Island survived being hit by friendly fire as officers responding to a domestic dispute call shot and killed a man carrying a knife.