Two NYPD officers were shot, one fatally, Tuesday night while responding to a call at a cellphone store in the Queens borough of New York City, CBS New York reports. The officer was killed in what appears to be "an absolute tragic case of friendly fire," NYPD Commissioner James O'Neill said in a press conference late Tuesday.
The officer was identified as Detective Brian Simonsen, 42, an 18-year veteran of the NYPD.
The police union, Police Benevolent Association, tweeted that a detective was killed in the line of duty and a sergeant was also wounded.
The incident unfolded as the officers, who were on an unrelated call nearby, responded to an armed robbery call at a T-Mobile store. The suspect had been described a man with a firearm, O'Neill said.
O'Neill said the officers saw the suspect emerging from the back, pointing at them what appeared to be a handgun. The officers discharged their weapons as the suspect advanced toward them. They retreated out of the store, and that's when Simonsen was shot, O'Neill said.
The sergeant, who has been with the NYPD for eight and a half years, was shot in the leg. He is in stable condition, O'Neill said.
O'Neill described the suspect, as a 27-year-old career criminal. He was shot multiple times. Police recovered an imitation firearm at the scene.
New York Sen. Chuck Schumer tweeted his condolences not long after the shooting.
Officials urged people to avoid the area in Richmond Hill due to a heavy police presence in response to the shooting. The Associated Press said the doors of the store were blown out by the gunfire and glass fragments littered the sidewalk.
A large number of officers had gathered outside the hospital, along with top police officials. It's the second time a police officer has been shot in the city in the past three months, AP points out. In December, an officer on Staten Island was hit by friendly fire as officers responded to a domestic dispute call.