Career criminal at center of NYPD detective’s death nicknamed ‘detective’ over past arrest for impersonating a cop

NEW YORK -- Police are asking the public's help in getting more information about the suspect allegedly involved in the robbery of a T-Mobile store in Queens that led to the fatal shooting of an NYPD veteran detective Tuesday night.

Christopher Ransom

Detective Brian Simonsen known since childhood as "Smiles" for his bright, welcoming nature died in a hail of police gunfire as officers faced off with 27-year-old Christopher Ransom, who had a fake gun and a long rap sheet that includes an arrest for pretending to be a cop, authorities said Wednesday.

Simonsen was struck once in the chest when he and six other officers fired 42 times as suspect Ransom charged toward the entrance of the T-Mobile store and simulated pulling the trigger of his imitation handgun, police said.

Another officer, Sgt. Matthew Gorman, was shot in the leg. The shooting started as he and two uniformed officers retreated from the store when Ransom, 27, emerged from a back room and came at them, Chief of Department Terence Monahan said. Gorman is in stable condition.

Ransom was wounded from the incident and is hospitalized in stable condition.

"We're going to be looking for the public's help in getting more information about him, about what he may or may not be involved in," Chief Monahan said.

Ransom has been arrested at least 11 times since 2012, records show, and he was wanted by police in connection with a Jan. 19 robbery at another cellphone store.

Ransom was charged in 2016 with impersonating a police officer after allegedly climbing over a gate and walking up to a desk at a Brooklyn police station while wearing a fake SWAT vest and police badge. Police records list his alias as "Detective." Ransom pleaded guilty to criminal trespass and was sentenced to 20 days in jail.

Four years earlier, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to jail time for pretending to be an intern to gain access to a judge's chambers and later violating an order to stay away by flashing a photocopied identification in an attempt to gain access to the courthouse.

Ransom sued the city over a 2015 disorderly conduct arrest, alleging officers approached him on a Brooklyn street corner for no reason, cornered him in a food store with guns drawn and took him to a psychiatric ward against his will.

The charges against Ransom were later dismissed, and Ransom dropped the lawsuit in 2016. A message was left for Ransom's lawyer in the lawsuit.

Five officers captured parts of Tuesday's chaotic scene on body cameras, Force Investigation Division Chief Kevin Maloney said. Investigators are also reviewing surveillance footage from the store. None of the video has been made public.

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