The friendly fire death of a NYPD detective in Queens came from 42 police bombers fired on a masked professional criminal who has indicted officials with a false weapon.
When the smoke cleared, the suspect Christopher Ransom survived eight shots – while veteran detective Brian Simonsen was killed by a single bullet in his chest.
Another policeman, Sgt. Matthew Gorman, was hit in the leg by another officer's shot.
"Mr. Ransom's bizarre behavior is a case of tragic irony," said Michael Palladino, president of the Detectives Endowment Association, for whom the 42-year-old Simonsen was delegate of his team. "[Ransom] Confronted police officers with an imitation gun while committing a robbery, implying that he wanted to commit "policeman suicide".
"The irony is that he lived and the policeman died."
A department insider agreed that, given his desperate situation, Ransom "definitely" had a death wish: "By no means did he shoot himself out of it."
Ransom, who was hospitalized Wednesday, faced a series of charges including murder, assault, robbery and aggravated manslaughter.
The deadly barrage, officials said it would unfold in a minute, was the chaotic climax of Ransom's interrupted raid on a T-Mobile store on Tuesday, police said.
Ransom, 27, stormed into the Richmond Hill store around 6 am. With a black mask, two workers ordered her to take her to a back room and tie her up, according to police sources.
He filled a travel bag with cash and SIM cards.
Out on the corner of Atlantic Avenue and 120th Street, police officers were being alerted by two 911 callers. Among them was 19-year-old NYPD veteran Simonsen, who broke a predator pattern before a CompStat meeting on Thursday, sources said.
Gorman, 31, and two officers were the first to find the mobile store they found abandoned – until Ransom jumped out of the back room, pointed the wrong gun at her and pulled the trigger, the authorities said.
Assuming that Ransom's firearm was genuinely and simply trapped, the trio took no chances and retreated to the street where, according to Simonsen, they took tactical positions with Simonsen and four other policemen.
Ransom still held the gun up and let it shoot dry. He came out of the shop and found himself in the midst of two blue waves, with a group of policemen, including Gorman to his right, and Simonsen beside a group on his left.
"He's coming out of the store and they're the block to the right and left," NYPD department head Terence Monahan said at a Wednesday meeting. "They are investigating a possible crime and suddenly someone shows that a firearm is aimed at you."
Seven officers opened the fire and squeezed a total of 42 rounds.
Gorman scored 11 times. Simonsen shot twice.
"Be advised, I'm shot," says a policeman, presumably Gorman, who tells a dispatcher in a police recording of the drama, posted by @NYScanner on Twitter. "Please set up a route to Jamaica [Hospital], "
Although the recording seems to have been partially edited, Simonsen's voice is never heard above the noise of the shots and the frantic calls of "shots fired".
The chaos was over in a few seconds.
"It was only about a minute, from the time everyone arrived until the time of the shootings," said Chief Kevin Maloney, head of the Force Investigation Division of the NYPD, who is investigating the wildcat incident.
As soon as Ransom had gone down, the delivery of the Fusillade, of all NYPD rounds, became visible to the police.
Gorman had a round in the leg, while Simonsen, who had not worn a bulletproof vest, was shot through the chest.
Gorman was treated at the Jamaica Hospital, where he stayed on Wednesday.
At the same hospital, Simonsen was pronounced dead and left behind a wife and a mother.
"At this time, I would like to tell you that this seems to be an absolutely tragic case of friendly fire," a ragged police commissioner James O'Neil said in the hospital. "Do not make a mistake, kindly set fire aside, it's up to the suspect's actions that Detective Simonsen is dead."
Ransom, who recovered from his own wounds in the intensive care unit at the New York Presbyterian / Queens Hospital, was formally arrested late Wednesday.
Defendants may be charged with murder if a crime is committed for committing a serious crime, even if they were not directly guilty, said Michael C. Farkas, a former city murder prosecutor who is currently in private practice.
"If the suspect was in the course of a robbery and someone is killed during this robbery, it seems that the situation is calling for a murder charge," Farkas said.
Dan Ollen, another city defender who became a defender of the city, added, "Given the fact that causation is defined as behavior that forms a critical link in the chain of events that led to the death of the detective , it seems like Mr. Ransom is in serious trouble. "
Meanwhile, the cops are working to find out if a proper protocol has been adhered to and who has shot anyone in the Pandemonium, a process that involves tedious reviews of both street surveillance videos and Bodycams shots of up to six officers.
While this investigation is under way, the officers involved are holding their breaths, fearing that they would have fired the shot that killed their brother in blue.
"I do not think anyone knows," said a senior police officer. "I'm sure that each one of them thinks they did it."
Another source of Gorman, who had seen on Atlantic Avenue, say, as his team-mate died at his feet, said, "He has that thousand-meter view. He had a kind of silence about him. "
Monahan left no doubt that although the bullets that had killed Simonsen and mangled Gorman had been spent by the NYPD, responsibility lay with the career offenders who began the deadly course of events.
"The scene is caused by a man acting against these officers," said the department head at the Wednesday meeting. "He's pointing a gun at her.
"The blame lies with this person."
Additional coverage by Emily Saul, Rebecca Rosenberg and Ruth Weissmann