A New York City police detective was shot and killed by friendly fire Tuesday night as officers confronted a robbery suspect who turned out to be armed with a replica handgun, Commissioner James O'Neill says. "This appears to be an absolutely tragic case of friendly fire," O'Neill says. Det. Brian Simonsen, 42, was struck in the chest as multiple officers fired on the suspect at a T-Mobile store in Queens, O'Neill says. Simonsen, a 19-year NYPD veteran, was put in a squad car and taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead, the AP reports. Sgt. Matthew Gorman was shot in the leg, O'Neill says. A passerby stopped and drove him to the hospital in his car. The suspect, a 27-year-old man with an extensive criminal record, was wounded and is hospitalized in stable condition.
Police swarmed the store around 6:10pm, after a 911 caller reported seeing the suspect take two employees to a back room at gunpoint, according to dramatic dispatch audio. Simonsen and Gorman were working on another case nearby when the call came over and arrived around the same time as patrol officers, O'Neill says. At first, the front of the store appeared empty, he says. Then a man matching the suspect's description emerged from the rear of the store pointing what appeared to be handgun and police started shooting, he says. "Shots fired! Shots fired!" an officer is heard yelling on the dispatch audio over a barrage of gunshots. About a minute later, Gorman tells dispatchers that he's been hit and an officer screams for dispatchers to rush an ambulance to the scene.
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