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NYPD releases image of imitation gun that sparked deadly shooting

The suspect in a Queens robbery Tuesday night used an imitation handgun in the confrontation with police that led to the death of a veteran NYPD detective from Calverton.

The NYPD on Thursday released an image of the model weapon that Christopher Ransom brandished at officers who entered the T-Mobile store in Richmond Hill after reports of an active armed robbery. The image shows the weapon had “Colt 1911 Target” written on it and is made to look like an actual Colt 1911 pistol. In the image, the gun does not appear to have a colored tip at the barrel designed to distinguish an airsoft or target weapon.

At a press conference Wednesday, NYPD Deputy Chief Kevin Maloney said the police response began at 6:09 p.m. when a 911 caller reported seeing a man with a gun and mask attempting a robbery inside the T-Mobile store. Mr. Ransom, described as a career criminal with 25 prior arrests, took the two employees to the rear of the store and inside an office to begin the robbery, the deputy chief said.

Detective Brian Simonsen, 42, and Sgt. Matthew Gorman, 34, were conducting surveillance around the corner when the call came over the police radio. Members of the 102nd Precinct, they responded about three minutes after the 911 call. Six uniformed officers arrived almost simultaneously.

Sgt. Gorman and two uniformed officers entered the store and Mr. Ransom emerged from the back office and pointed the weapon at the officers. It did not appear Det. Simonsen entered the store.

Brian Simonsen

“At that time, the officers exit the location as the perpetrator continued running in their direction,” Deputy Chief Maloney said. “When the perpetrator gets to the front of that store, shots are fired.”

Mr. Ransom appeared to simulate the shooting motion with his weapon as he charged toward the officers, he added.

Seven officers fired shots, totaling 42 rounds, he said. All the shots fired were outside the store, both to the left and right of the entrance in about 11 seconds.

“This happens in seconds,” said NYPD Chief of Department Terrence Monahan. “It goes from zero to 60. You’re investigating a possible crime and then all of a sudden someone’s charging at you pointing what you believe to be a firearm simulating firing at you. It raises everything very quickly.”

During that time, Det. Simonsen and Sgt. Gorman were both shot from friendly fire. Mr. Ransom was shot as well and is currently in a hospital while under arrest. No formal charges have been released yet and they are pending with the Queens District Attorney’s office.

Riverhead Fire Department displayed a large American flag as the procession brought back Det. Simonsen Wednesday night. (Credit: Tara Smith)

Det. Simonsen, who did not have a bulletproof vest on, was struck once in the chest. Sgt. Gorman was shot in the leg and is recovering from his injury. The preliminary evidence showed Det. Simonsen fired two shots and Sgt. Gorman fired 11 times, Deputy Chief Maloney said.

The deputy chief said five officers were equipped with body cameras that investigators are reviewing, in addition to surrounding surveillance video.

While police said Mr. Ransom has a long history of arrests, all his prior convictions were for misdemeanors, according to Chief Monahan. One conviction was for impersonating a police officer, he said. Police are seeking the public’s help to learn more about the 27-year-old suspect. He said there are no documented mental illnesses for the suspect, but said it’s something investigators are looking into.

The NYPD public information office said on Thursday no additional updates were available.

Det. Simonsen, a 19-year veteran of the department, leaves behind his wife, Leanne Kinnavy, and mother, Linda.

In advance of services next week, Det. Simonsen’s body was brought back to the North Fork Wednesday night. A NYPD procession, including a helicopter, arrived at DeFriest-Grattan Funeral Home in Mattituck after 8 p.m. Firefighters from multiple departments placed large American flags between ladders. Firefighters, emergency medical services members, police officers and residents stood along the road to pay respects to Det. Simonsen.

The family will receive friends at Saint Rosalie Roman Catholic Church in Hampton Bays Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 18 and 19. Wake hours are Monday from 7 to 9 p.m. and Tuesday from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. The Liturgy of Christian Burial will be celebrated Wednesday morning, Feb. 20, at 10 a.m. The funeral Mass will be followed by interment at Jamesport Cemetery.

Friends remembered Det. Simonsen as a “generous, heartwarming person who always had a smile on his face.”

His nickname since high school was “Smiles.”

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