A sea of blue lined Montauk Highway in Hampton Bays Monday, as hundreds of uniformed police officers from New York City and elsewhere waited in line to pay their respects to NYPD Detective Brian Simonsen of Calverton, who was killed in the line of duty while responding to a report of an armed robbery last week in Queens.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of the Diocese of New York, spoke to reporters about the grief experienced by friends and loved ones.
“We’ve got some extraordinarily brave and generous and heroic people there, and to see their tears and the lump in their throats causes the same in all of us,” he said.
Michael Palladino, the president of the Detective’s Endowment Association at the NYPD, was one of those in attendance at Monday’s wake. He also spoke briefly to reporters.
“That was definitely an act of suicide by cop,” he said. “And the terrible irony is [the suspect] is alive and this hero is dead.”
The suspect, Christopher Ransom, 27, pointed an imitation gun at officers, and Det. Simonsen died from friendly fire from other officers responding to that scene. A second suspect, Jagger Freeman, 25, of Queens, also was arrested, as police say he was the “lookout” in the robbery.
Both men face murder charges.
Another officer, Sgt. Matthew Gorman, was shot in the leg during the robbery and is recovering.
The wake at Saint Rosalie R.C. Church continues Tuesday from 2-4 p.m. and 7-9 p.m. The church was chosen because of its size to help accommodate the huge number of mourners.
His funeral will be held Wednesday morning at 10 a.m. and police are expecting thousands of people, and will close Montauk Highway to traffic from its intersections with Old Riverhead Road to Flanders Road from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Parts of Squiretown Road, Ponquogue Avenue and Springville Avenue will also be closed to traffic from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The line to get into the wake stretched from outside the church on Montauk Highway and down the road toward the intersection with Ponquogue Avenue. A local Starbucks store was offering free coffee to the officers, who waited for hours in the freezing temperatures.
Following Wednesday’s funeral in Hampton Bays, the procession will travel to Jamesport for the burial at Jamesport Cemetery. American flags were placed all along Main Road in Jamesport.
The only road closure expected is South Jamesport Avenue, but officials warned of delays all along Main Road from Route 105 to Laurel Lane from Wednesday morning into the afternoon.
Top photo caption: Mourners arrive at the wake Monday in Hampton Bays. (Credit: Elizabeth Wagner)