Tears Of Blue:
- Officer’s Widow, Wounded Partner Among Throngs Of Mourners At Second Day Of Det. Simonsen’s Wake
- Family, Fellow Officers Honor Simonsen At Emotional Wake
- Det. Simonsen Remembered As Community Giant
- Suspect Had Troubling History
- 2nd Man Charged With Murder
- Complete Coverage
NEW YORK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – The funeral for fallen NYPD detective Brian Simonsen was held Wednesday morning at the Church of St. Rosalie in Hampton Bays, N.Y.
Fond memories and precious moments were mentioned as family, friends and fellow officers paid tribute to the fallen detective, who vowed to serve and protect New York City. He ended up losing his life in the process.
There was a sea of blue outside the church as thousands of officers lined the streets in solemn tribute. Southampton police estimated that more than 10,000 people could be in attendance. Police officers flooded the small town as Simonsen’s widow and mother made their way into the church. Grey skies above matched the heartache below.
Inside, an overflow crowd packed the pews for his final sendoff.
NYPD Chaplain Monsignor David Cassato offered words to the fallen detective’s heartbroken widow and mother – also a widow – who buried her second child Wednesday.
Watch The Full Funeral Service, Part 1
“I don’t think there’s one word humanly speaking that any of us in this packed church here at St. Rosalie can say that goes to the pain you feel,” he said.
The funeral Mass marked the end of more than a week of remembrances for Simonsen, 42, who was killed in the line of duty in a tragic case of friendly fire while responding to a call in Richmond Hills, Queens last Tuesday.
Watch The Full Funeral Service, Part 2
Those who knew Simonsen nicknamed the football and baseball player “Smiles” in high school.
“Smiles, it’s like he should have been the mayor. He was the glue,” said friend Melissa Weir. “He’s such a good guy, such a larger than life personality, and a stand up guy.”
For a GoFundMe to help support Simonsen’s family, click here.
The impact of his loss spread far beyond Queens, where he worked all 19 years of his career, or the east end of Long Island, where he called home. His funeral drew officers from around the country and mourners who never got to meet him.
“All of these police officers come from all over, it chokes me up,” said Mary Howell of Shirley.
“You’re all family, no matter what department your with. And someone in your family passes away, you attend the funeral, if you can,” another man said.
“Because the men and women in blue, both here in New York City and across the country, have showed so much love and support for my family when I lost my husband, Sgt. Paul Tuozzolo, two years ago. It is the utmost importance and respect that we come and support another line of duty family. They need all of the love and care wrapped around them right now,” she said.
Mayor Bill de Blasio and Police Commissioner James O’Neill also offered their condolences.
“Take a moment to appreciate these people, your neighbors who are putting themselves in harm’s way to keep you safe. They will do everything in their power: Put your lives above their own. That’s who they are. They are the very best among us. They are the NYPD. They are Detective Brian Simonsen,” an emotional O’Neill said. “And they will always be there, fighting against violence, against brutality, against cruelty, and against anyone who wishes you harm.”
O’Neill promoted Simonsen posthumously to Detective, First Grade.
As helicopters flew overhead in the poignant missing man formation, his widow Leanne was presented with the NYPD flag that draped his casket.
Simonsen’s partner was brought to tears as he remembered his friend.
“I will miss the comfort of having Brian sit across from me in my office. I will miss his infectious laughter and the way he lit up a room. I will miss our daily conversations, whether at work or home. I will miss my partner, but mostly I will miss my friend,” Det. Ricky Waters said. “May God bless you. May God bless Detective Brian Simonsen. And may God bless the NYPD.”
“Today, New York City is heartbroken. We have a tremendous sense of loss in our community. A city so large, and yet we’re all united right now in profound grief because we have lost such a good man,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “Our hearts go out to the Simonsen family. We can only begin to imagine your pain but we feel at one with you, and we all should feel at one with our men and women who are suffering this loss.”
“I ask every New Yorker, when you see a police officer today, offer them condolences as you owuld if they lost a family member, because in fact they have,” de Blasio said.
“I think we can all agree that we have lost one of our very best,” de Blasio said.
“His oversized personality made you want to be around him. His oversized personality led his friends to call him ‘Smiles.’ My cousin was always smiling, always trying to include everybody in his life,” Simonsen’s cousin Sean Peterson said. “Brian, you lived your life to the fullest. We love and miss you. You were truly one of New York’s Finest.”
Throughout this week, mourners paid their respects to the 19-year veteran who was killed last week while responding to a robbery in Richmond Hill, Queens.
Authorities say Simonsen was shot by friendly fire, along with Sergeant Matthew Gorman, who attended both days of the wake and the funeral while still healing in a wheelchair.
“It’s a tragedy of the deepest, most painful kind. Why him? How could this happen? We will learn every possible fact and draw every appropriate lesson. But it won’t be enough. It will hurt forever,” O’Neill said.
Men and women in blue from across the country and beyond, as far as the eye can see, showed up in support.
“I came from Florida. I’d come from Alaska if I had to because this means something: This family, this brotherhood,” said Officer Corey Bogus of the Miramar, Fla. Police Department.
“It sends a message of unity that we all stand together no matter where we are from in this country,” said Deputy Tammy Bennetts of the San Diego Police Department.
The funeral was punctuated with emotional, and occasionally humorous, moments.
“He taught me how to ride a bike. He put me on his bike, gave me a push, and said ‘Good luck,'” said Peterson, garnering laughs from the audience. “On March 1, 2000, Brian and I fulfilled our lifelong dream. We became part of New York’s Finest. It’s pretty safe to say it was the proudest moment of our lives.”
“When chaos erupts, most run away from the danger, but a few run toward the danger. Brian was all that and so much more. He ran in when everybody else ran out. His death was not in vain. He died doing what he loved to do,” said Peterson.
“Brian was a great detective but a better person,” said Waters. “Brian was a true friend. He never wanted anything other than to know I was OK… We would laugh every day to the point where our stomachs would hurt. He loved all you guys very much.”
In a final act of giving, Simonsen also donated his organs.
To share a message of sympathy on the funeral home’s website, click here.
Simonsen was an animal lover, so in lieu of flowers, his widow is asking that donations be made to the Healing Haven Animal Foundation. To make a donation, click here.
For a GoFundMe to help support Simonsen’s family, click here.