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February 24, 2019

At Queens bodega, the friendly fire death of a veteran detective is cause for mourning

February 13, 2019
Amin Aleraki, Owner of a bodega across from the 102nd Precinct stationhouse in Queens, lights a memorial candle for NYPD Detective, Brian Simonsen, who was killed by friendly fire during a robbery Tuesday night. (David Wexler for New York Daily News)

NYPD Detective Brian Simonsen was a heartbreaking no-show Wednesday morning at the 227 Deli Grocery.

The 42-year-old police veteran, a regular at the bodega down the block from the 102nd Precinct stationhouse in Queens, stopped in most mornings to buy a bottle of water — and always rejected the offer of a freebie.

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“I told him ‘No pay,’” said employee Mural Jamil, 29 “And he pays, and he goes. He’s a nice guy … He’s a good guy, quiet. I feel bad.”

The bodega created an impromptu memorial to Simonsen, who spent his entire 19-year police career working in the neighborhood.

Jamil and a cousin closed the 24-hour store for an hour in the detective’s honor, arranging flowers, candles and an American flag in the front window. A copy of the Daily News front page with Simonsen’s photo was taped to the inside of the window and Jamil said a prayer for the departed cop.

“A very sad day,” said bodega co-owner Amin Al-Ariki, 35. “This is a very, very nice guy. I always, every morning, see him come here to my store.

“I’m very sad … I pray for him. I’m very sad.”

Jamil was still at home before starting his Tuesday evening shift when Simonsen and Sgt. Matthew Gorman were shot in the friendly fire incident while answering a robbery call.

“I saw the (police) cars running, I said, ‘Something’s happening,’” recalled Jamil. “When I come to work in the nighttime, somebody told me.”

Simonsen was fatally shot in the chest, while Gorman survived after taking a bullet to his hip, police said.

Both store workers recall the genial Simonson taking time to chat with the bodega staff during his daily visit.

Jamil said the detective always let the workers know he was there to help: “He was saying, ‘Any problem, let me know.’”

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