The 19-year veteran of the NYPD spent his entire career with the 102nd Precinct. Simonsen was killed by friendly fire on February 12 while responding to a robbery at a T-mobile store on Atlantic Avenue in Richmond Hill. He was 42.
Detective Nicholas Perez worked with Simonsen for years, which resulted in a close friendship between the two officers and their families. Perez’s two daughters sang “Wind Beneath My Wings” on Sunday afternoon.
“My dad said he was like a brother to him,” said Nicole Perez. “He meant a lot to me.”
Members of the 102nd Precinct were joined by leaders from various faiths and community members who wanted to show their support.
Sam Esposito, president of the Ozone Park Civic Association and a former police officer, helped organize the prayer vigil.
“I felt the community needed to come out in force and show support,” Esposito said. “Everyone’s so quick to call the police when they need something, but now they need to come out and be here for them.
“They help people and we decided to come here out of respect,” said Christine Langan, who attended the event with her mother, Dorothy. “No matter who you are or where you’re from, you’re family.”
Dorothy has lived in the neighborhood for 47 years.
“It’s so tragic, but you could see he was well liked,” she said.
Many came bearing flowers for Simonsen’s memorial outside the precinct. On Sunday morning, there was a worship service dedicated to Simonsen at Emanuel United Church of Christ.
“What the community did for us is extraordinary,” said 102nd Precinct commanding officer Courtney Nilan. “The flowers, the food, the prayers really mean a lot. Brian was a great man and a great police officer and detective."
Two men, 27-year-old Christopher Ransom and 25-year-old Jagger Freeman, were arrested in connection to the shooting.
Police say Ransom robbed the store with a fake gun, which he pointed at responding officers, prompting the gunfire. Freeman served as Ransom‘s lookout.
Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association, said the two suspects are the only ones to blame for Simonsen’s death.
“Those police officers that were there that day will always have that on their minds and on their hearts,” Lynch added. “We should always remember that the person that pulled that gun and walked in to rob that T-Mobile, that’s who caused his death.”