NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A chaotic scene unfolded Tuesday night in Queens. NYPD Det. Brian Simonsen was killed by friendly fire after police said the suspect pointed a gun at responding officers.
That gun turned out to be fake.
CBS2’s Lisa Rozner has learned the suspect, 27-year-old Christopher Ransom, has a troubled past involving impersonating law enforcement officers.
The robbery of a T-Mobile store on Atlantic Avenue in Richmond Hill was like a replay of what police said Ransom did at a phone store a few miles away in South Jamaica last month.
“When he took the gun out and point it at me I looked at the gun and it did look fake, but I couldn’t take any chance,” store manager Tanvir Sheikh said.
Sheikh said he handed over a bunch of iPhones and around $800 in cash, and then prayed.
“God, do anything make this guy caught. Make this guy caught. Make sure nobody goes through what I went through that night,” Sheikh said.
Ransom is now caught, but 42-year-old Det. Brian Simonsen lost his life. As officers responded to Tuesday night’s report of a robbery, Simonsen was fatally shot in a case of friendly fire, and a sergeant was injured.
Ransom’s family sent out two representatives to speak on their behalf outside their apartment on St. John’s Avenue in Brownsville on Wednesday afternoon. His mother claims he hasn’t lived at home in a year.
“This is a mother who is 77, who is now trying to wrap her head around what has taken place,” community activist Christopher Banks said.
“The family is giving their condolences to that individual, that officer, that detective that lost his life,” said Rev. Kevin McCall of the Crisis Action Center.
Ransom is no stranger to police. Including last month’s robbery, he has been arrested 25 times. Most of Ransom’s cases are sealed, however. Looking at public records, it appears he’s served about five months in jail.
In photos, Ransom has been seen wearing a fake FBI jacket and a police badge. He has even plead guilty to lying about being a college student to get an internship and access restricted areas of Brooklyn Supreme Court.
Videos on YouTube show ransom doing stand-up comedy and walking into a police station wearing a cape.
“I love the law enforcement. You guys get paid for it. I’ll do it for free,” he says on one video.
Ransom’s supporters are reminding everyone he is innocent, unless and until a jury says otherwise.
He’s facing a slew of charges related to Tuesday’s tragedy, including second degree murder, aggravated manslaughter, and robbery.
The NYPD asked anyone with additional information about Ransom that might help their investigation to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-577-TIPS.